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William Mathias’s ebullient, joyful choral writing, drawing on a variety of musical traditions, is immediately accessible and likeable whilst demonstrating an architectural sophistication that brings it into the top rank of twentieth-century liturgical music. He had a particular flair for brilliance, drama and display, which made his music highly suited to ceremonial and festive occasions; present too in his music is a sense of Celtic mysticism and deep spirituality which enhances such works as ‘All wisdom is from the Lord’ and ‘O nata lux’.
This disc includes a comprehensive selection of his works for choir and organ, spanning his wide-ranging musical career and manifold influences. It is performed by Wells Cathedral Choir—recently described in Gramophone magazine as ‘probably the finest English Cathedral choir at the moment’—whose delightfully full-throated, vibrant sound is the perfect vehicle for this repertoire.
“Central to this valuable anthology of Mathias's church music is the tautly concentrated Missa brevis of 1973. It’s the outer movements that are most impressive, the Kyrie drawn tensely together in a mesh of tight major and minor intervals, the Agnus Dei uneasily stretching forth towards a still distant eternity.”
“What shines through this entire programme is Mathias's life-affirming energy and his unquenchable streak of optimism. …these are superbly polished performances that, together with Jonathan Vaughn's jovial accompaniments and lively solos… provide a showcase for one of the late 20th century's more distinctive composers for the church.”
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