Smyth: Mass in D; Mrs Waters’s Aria from The Boatswain’s Mate

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COMPOSERS: Smyth
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Mass in D; Mrs Waters’s Aria from The Boatswain’s Mate
PERFORMER: Eiddwen Harrhy (soprano), Janis Hardy (mezzo-soprano), Dan Dressen (tenor), James Bohn (bass); Chorus & Orchestra of the Plymouth Music Series/Philip Brunelle
CATALOGUE NO: CDM 5 67426 2 Reissue (1991)
It’s good to see Ethel Smyth’s Mass in D back in circulation. A powerful, large-scale work, which she considered her finest, the Mass had its first performance in 1893, but thanks to institutional sexism was not heard again for over 30 years.

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Taking Beethoven, Brahms and Haydn as her models, Smyth adeptly balances vigorous exaltation and pensive calm. The Kyrie eleison and Agnus Dei plead with fervent intensity, while the Gloria – which she placed last – is busily jubilant. Also included is the 1911 suffragette anthem The March of the Women, here sounding more jaunty than militant. Good performances; occasionally murky sound. Graham Lock