ETHEL SMYTH (1858-1944): Mass in D, Overture to The Wreckers”.

Catalogue Number: 10V008

Label: Chandos

Reference: CHSA 5240

Format: SACD hybrid

Price: $18.98

Description: Smyth's splendid and rousing setting of the Mass still doesn’t get the recognition it deserves - surely we’re over the nonsense about 'women composers' that dogged its early years by now? The setting is bold and robust, perhaps too extrovert for liturgical use but certainly as suited to the concert hall or the great English choral festivals as anything else of the time. Smyth's European influences- Berlioz, Brahms, Wagner, the tradition going back to Bach - are certainly evident, but so is Smyth’s originality, especially in solo vocal writing. The Mass pre-dates Elgar's Gerontius by a decade, and it is not noticeably inferior to the choral works that he was producing around the same time, nor those of Sullivan, Parry or Stanford. Smyth’s massed choruses are thrilling, her orchestration full-blooded and weighty, and her solo writing eloquent and exquisitely sensitive. The overture to The Wreckers - as bracing as an Atlantic storm on the Cornish coast, with echoes of Berlioz, Brahms and Mendelssohn, is hugely enjoyable. Susanna Hurrell (soprano), Catriona Morison (mezzo), Ben Johnson (tenor), Duncan Rock (baritone), BBC Symphony Chorus, BBC Symphony Orchestra; Sakari Oramo.

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