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This CD of Vaughan Williams’s church music follows on from several recent splendid recordings from the Choir of St John’s, Cambridge, under their music director Andrew Nethsingha; it is every bit as accomplished. Clean lines, rounded tone and a near perfect balance of voices characterise this performance of Vaughan Williams’s 1922 Mass in G minor (an odd title, as mostly it isn’t in G minor at all but rather in modal tonalities), its double choir and quartet writing the vocal equivalent of what the composer achieved in his celebrated Tallis Fantasia. The world of Tallis and his contemporaries is evoked in the Mass, and Nethsingha and his forces relish the parallels with the Tudor era as much as the differences. It’s a fine achievement and alone worth the price of the CD. But the remainder of the programme is not insignificant: it comprises some of Vaughan Williams’s Anglican church music, including the celebrated coronation anthem O taste and see, the ‘Antiphon’ from the Five Mystical Songs and Lord, thou hast been our refuge. There’s also a fine rendering of the organ prelude on Rhosymedre. A wholly enjoyable CD that reinforces the significance of the agnostic Vaughan Williams’s sacred music.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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