Andrew Nethsingha and The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge mark the centenary of the 1918 Armistice with a new recording of choral works by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Many of the works were composed in the years immediately following the event, including O clap your hands, Lord, thou hast been our refuge and the Mass in G minor which leads the programme.
Vaughan Williams turned his attention to liturgical music following his service as a wagon orderly during the Great War. Ursula Vaughan Williams, his second wife and biographer, wrote that such work ‘gave Ralph vivid awareness of how men died’. It is perhaps unsurprising that in many of the texts to which he turned after the 1918 Armistice, the fragility and weakness of humanity becomes a recurrent theme. Despite being described as a ‘confirmed atheist’ by the philosopher Bertrand Russell, his heightened exploration of Christian texts, symbols, and images after the War might rather be understood both as an attempt to grapple anew with what might lie, as he put it, ‘beyond sense and knowledge’, and to search for consolation in religious and other inherited traditions amid a world irrevocably changed.
I admire both the outstanding quality of the treble line and the excellent sense of ensemble – Cathedral Music Magazine
The great virtues of the disc are the way it brings RVW’s into a different focus yet also emphasises the transcendent mysticism which is the essential core to the music – Planet Hugill
This is a very fine disc indeed. Andrew Nethsingha has chosen the music with great discernment and conducts it with evident commitment and understanding – Music Web International