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Cat. No. CHAN 9847 Price: £0 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9847 - Rubbra: Four Mediaeval Latin Lyrics
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Available From: 14 September 2000
Rubbra’s own deep interest in religious and philosophical ideas, together with his knowledge and understanding of both Renaissance and Eastern music, gave all his work a spiritual dimension which is most individual. In selecting texts, Rubbra was particularly attracted to those within the mystical tradition; writers whose strong sense of the spiritual was expressed through the sensual. This is reflected in Rubbra’s own sound-world which is at once both deeply restrained yet deeply passionate.

For the earliest work on this disc, however, the Four Medieval Latin Lyrics, Rubbra chose secular Latin texts from the Carmina Burana manuscript and from the poetry of Peter Abelard (1079-1142). These were originally set for chorus but regarded as too difficult in this form and revised for baritone and string orchestra. They had their first performance on 11 March 1947.

The choral Song of the Soul dates from 1952 and is set for six-part choir and string orchestra, with harp and timpani. The first performance was given by the London Bach Society under Paul Steinitz. The setting is far more homophonic than is usual with Rubbra, and the use of chromaticism to emphasise the sensuous nature of the text produces subtle dissonances.

Inscape (1964) was commissioned for the Stroud Festival of Religious Drama and Arts and first performed at the festival on 24 October 1965. Rubbra sets four poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1848-1889) which date from 1877. The form is based loosely on that of a sinfonietta and an accompaniment of strings and harp is used to provide, in Rubbra’s own words, ‘an enriching aura’ for the choir.

Veni creator Spiritus, a four-part choir and brass setting, dates from 1965-6 and was commissioned by the BBC. Rubbra deliberately avoids an exuberant setting and instead concentrates on harmonic growth from a hushed beginning.

The Advent Cantata: Natum Maria Virgine (1968) is written for baritone, four-part choir and small orchestra. Rubbra’s response to this poem is both poignant and direct. Musically continuous it falls into four sections: recitative; aria; acrostic hymn; chorale.

‘Hickox’s performances of all three works here… are models of clarity and articulation… the series will fill a gap in the catalogue that a noisy lobby has been demanding for years.’
The Guardian on CHAN 9401 (Symphonies Nos 4, 10 & 11)

‘Throughout it is difficult to imagine how the performances could be bettered and the recording is clear and warm.
International Record Review

Gramophone Critic's Choice of 2001 new releases

‘Thanks to all concerned are in order – for Hickox’s perceptive interpretation, the players’ dedication and sensitivity and last but not least, the exemplary recorded sound that we rather take for granted on this label. Strongly recommended.’
Gramophone on CHAN 9481 (Symphonies Nos 2 & 6)


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