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.
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