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Ralph Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass

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Ralph Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass
Ralph Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass


Albion Records presents this Live 2011 world première recording from Fairfield Halls, Croydon, of the 1899 Mass written as a doctoral thesis by Vaughan Williams. Alan Tongue prepared the score from manuscript and conducts The Bach Choir and the New Queen's Hall Orchestra.

In 1899 Vaughan Williams completed his exercise what we now call A Cambridge Mass - for the degree of Doctor of Music from Cambridge University and was awarded the Doctorate in 1901. Alan Tongue transcribed the 155 pages of manuscript and this recording is of the world première at Fairfield Halls, Croydon on 3rd March 2011. After the first performance Michael Kennedy said of the work: 'To regard this Mass as an apprentice exercise would be a misjudgement. It is the real Vaughan Williams on his way to greatness'.

Alan Tongue has been conducting English music abroad for over twenty years. His Vaughan Williams conducting includes The Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains and Sir John in Love. He also features on ALBCD025 Vaughan Williams: Fair Child of Beauty and ALBCD033 Vaughan Williams: Beyond my Dream.


Musicweb Recording of the Month I rather fancy that this, Albion's latest release, may be the most important of all so far. The Mass is a work of genuine individuality. It shows a confident composer, one who is technically highly proficient and who has something to say. And already, working with the Latin text of the Mass, we can hear a composer for whom words matter. Alan Tongue must have put in countless hours of work to get this Mass into a performable state, but his work has been fully vindicated and all lovers of Vaughan Williams's music and indeed anyone with an interest in English music should be profoundly grateful to him. This is an important, assured piece in its own right and it is invaluable in helping our understanding of the composer's development. The work has been well served in this first performance. The Bach Choir sings very well indeed, and the orchestral contribution is equally good. The New Queen's Hall Orchestra plays on the sort of instruments that would have been used by London orchestras at the turn of the twentieth century and the somewhat softer sound, as compared to that produced by modern orchestras, is a boon here. Generally, the vocal soloists do well: I liked the contributions of the two ladies best. What an excellent idea it was to couple the Mass with a work by RVW's teacher, Parry. Blest Pair of Sirens is one of the greatest works in the English choral repertoire and it's good to hear it sung by the choir for which it was composed. The 2011 vintage of the Bach Choir do their heritage proud; this is a very good performance. It was also a delight to hear the clarity which the New Queen's Hall Orchestra brings to the orchestral introduction. The recorded sound is very good, and the documentation is as comprehensive as you could wish for. This is an important release which all English music devotees should hear as soon as possible. --John Quinn, Musicweb International

This is a portrait of an artist still under construction a vivid and fascinating glimpse of Vaughan Williams before he was truly himself. --Alexandra Coghlan, Gramophone Magazine


  1. Name
  2. Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass: Credo
  3. Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass: Qui propter nos homines
  4. Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass: Et resurrexit tertia die
  5. Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass: Amen
  6. Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass: Offertorium (orchestral intermezzo)
  7. Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass: Sanctus
  8. Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass: Hosanna
  9. Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass: Benedictus
  10. Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass: Hosanna (finale)
  11. Parry: Blest Pair of Sirens
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