on 13 August 2003
Having sung both the Widor Mass and enjoyed it thoroughly, I decided to buy a recording to prolong the good memories! And this cd certainly does not disappoint... I have to confess to having been somewhat sceptical about Westminster Cathedral Choir's reputation, but this cd really does confirm that they are Britain's premier cathedral choir, Anglican or Roman Catholic. The 24 trebles on this highly acclaimed recording far surpass any sound I've heard St Paul's produce - and the three altos (three! in a double-choir line-up of over fifty singers!) are prominant, clear and rich in tone in a way that I've not come across before. The Widor Mass and motets are, of course, sung with gusto and grandeur, as is the astoundingly moving Vierne Mass - both backed by two fine organs that blend perfectly for a delicious French colour. It's also nice to see the rarely-performed Dupre motets given an outing, and they are a real joy to listen to. All in all a wonderful recording which presents the music exactly as it is - grand, impressive, but always highly moving - exactly what we've come to expect from the Hyperion label. Buy it, buy it, buy it. I cannot say enough good things about it. Definitely the highlight of my summer!
on 13 June 2012
I'm not particularly a fan of the recordings of these masses made by French choirs, so to hear them done by an English choir but still with the two organs (as most English performances tend to merge it to just one) makes this a winner. The choral sound is as full-blooded as you'd want it to be, but extremely well blended nonetheless. The organ sound comes across wonderfully, and you can hear the deep pedal notes in all the right places. In terms of the repertoire, I bought this with the Vierne Mass in mind but actually found its the Widor which is really the highlight. That's not to say the Vierne is a disappointment, nor are the selection of motets which sit nicely alongside the two masses - and these range from the more quiet, tender pairing by Vierne to Widor's 'Surrexit a mortuis' and 'Tu es Petrus' which are as full-blooded as the mass settings.
Overall, an exceptional recording.
My wife was about to sing Vierne’s Messe solennelle with her new choir; hence the purchase of this CD. The disc has in fact given us both a great deal of pleasure, even though its purchase would perhaps have been unlikely had she not been about to perform the Mass, the best and most substantial work on the disc.
The three composers featured here are today best known for their organ works; indeed, between them Widor and Dupré held the post of organist at the church of Saint Sulpice for a span of 101 years, while Vierne served as assistant to Widor.
I do not really think that any of the pieces here are masterpieces, but they are undeniably effective and tuneful. Vierne’s Mass in particular is well worth discovering; I know that my wife enjoyed singing it! I cannot imagine them being more persuasively performed than they are here by the Choir of Westminster Cathedral under their Master of Music James O’Donnell.
As ever with Hyperion, the recording (made in Westminster Cathedral in 1996) and booklet are immaculate, while the latter is graced by a lovely painting of Notre Dame, where many of these works were performed.