Stravinsky: Mass; Cantata; Ave Maria; Pater noster; Credo; Tres Sacrae Cantiones

Reviewed on Wed 30 Nov, 2016

The proto-serial Cantata is unusually warm and lyrical, thanks to the operatic tone of soprano Ruby Hughes and the clear but emotive singing of tenor Nicholas Mulroy.

Stravinsky intended his Mass as a work for choir with boy trebles, and the virtually unique selling point of this new recording is that trebles are used. In fact, the Choir of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh includes girls and boys, but the tone is impressively warm and even. Too warm, perhaps, for Stravinsky’s austere textures, but conductor Duncan Ferguson makes a virtue of the vibrant tone. Soloists from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra are more traditionally Stravinskian with their stentorian harmonies – a productive juxtaposition. The proto-serial Cantata is also unusually warm and lyrical, thanks to the operatic tone of soprano Ruby Hughes and the clear but emotive singing of tenor Nicholas Mulroy. The Gesualdo completions and three short earlier works all benefit from the impressive breath control and liturgical performance practice of the choir. The recording was made at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh, the acoustic warm but not overly resonant, and the engineering also contributing valuable clarity.
–Gavin Dixon