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This is St Mary’s Cathedral Choir’s fifth disc for Delphian, following their widely admired recordings of Taverner, Sheppard, Bruckner and Gabriel Jackson. It is Jackson, who enjoys a long association with the choir, who provides the excellent liner notes for the CD, which are an essential accompaniment to understanding and enjoying Ferguson’s well- chosen programme. Stravinsky’s Mass (1944-47) is the composer’s most substantial liturgical work. Its exquisite beauty references (even if the composer denied it) Palestrina and medieval music. It here receives one of the finest readings I’ve experienced. The choir sounds fresh and lively, thoroughly relishing Stravinsky’s angular vocal writing, while the SCO Soloists are no less engaged. Ferguson finds exactly the right tempi and a slightly detached level of expression for Stravinsky’s very brief settings of the Ave Maria, Pater Noster and Credo – all given here in their later Latin rather than Russian Orthodox versions. He is fortunate to have two fine soloists in Ruby Hughes and Nicholas Mulroy for Cantata (1952), an austere, canon-obsessed work written immediately after The Rake’s Progress. To round off their satisfying programme, Ferguson and his Edinburgh choir give an exemplary account of Tres sacrae cantiones, Stravinsky’s completions of Gesualdo, the canonic puzzles of which echo in spirit the complex counterpoint of Cantata. Highly recommended.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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