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Cat. No. CHAN 10423 Price: £4 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10423 - Rubbra: Missa cantuariensis/ Dormi Jesu/That Virgin's Child Most Meek
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Available From: 01 September 2007
Richard Hickox writes, ‘This recording has so many special memories for me. Not only was the choir of St Margaret’s Westminster in a particularly golden era, but I adored the music, and, above all, I knew what it meant to the composer himself. I had met Edmund Rubbra at the age of seven at a Guy Fawkes party. I remember him celebrating the fact that he had just completed a symphony that very day. Little did I think that three or four decades down the track I would have recorded his entire symphonic output for Chandos. The masses, and particularly the two carols, are perhaps the most personal music in Rubbra’s output. After I had not seen him for many years, he came to the recording sessions. As the last carol at the last session was completed, I went down to the recording room to find Edmund in the corner with tears running down his cheeks. The most humble of men, he said he was just so grateful that we had done the project at all, and I like to think too that he’d been moved by the performances we gave.’

As Rubbra states in his notes, Missa Cantuariensis, the first and largest of his five settings of the Canon of the Mass, was primarily designed for use on festival occasions. On receiving a commission by Canterbury Cathedral during the 1939 – 45 war, he was specifically asked to set the words of the English rites of 1662 and 1928. The Mass was commissioned whilst he was still serving in the army and written whilst on active duty. This is an a cappella work, but in the Credo features an important organ accompaniment, which Rubbra felt underlined the difference between a solitary personal statement of belief and the act of corporate worship and appeal. Written in 1948, Missa in honorem Sancti Dominici was designed for normal liturgical use. Rubbra therefore set the six movements as succinctly as possible, and in this respect the work differs greatly from the much more expansive Missa Cantuariensis.

In his notes to this CD Timothy Storey acknowledges how heartened he has been to see the recording restored to circulation as he considers it to be ‘definitive and utterly compelling made under the composer’s supervision’. He also comments that ‘These performances come up as fresh and convincing as ever, and should inspire a new generation of singers and conductors to get to know this music’.
Reviews

"These Masses were recorded in the prescence of the composer and are given with the greatest eloquence and finesse. They were composed in  1946 and 1948 and are among the most beautiful a cappella choral works of the twentieth century. A must for all collectors of choral music, even those who do not normally respond to Rubbra."
The Penguin Guide - 1000 Greatest Classical Recordings 2011-12


Considerable demands are placed on the singers in places, but St Margaret’s Westminster Singers perform with expert assurance here and throughout the disc under the young Richard Hickox… No admirer of Rubbra’s music should be without this disc.
International Record Review

Richard Hickox and the St Margaret’s Westminster Singers bring to both these rapt and timeless Mass settings an unhurried, intuitive understanding and devotional glow… The two unaccompanied carols are special too, in particular the ravishing Dormi Jesu.
Gramophone 'Reissue of the Month'

 

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