Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Josef Gabriel RHEINBERGER (1839-1901)
Motets, Masses and Hymns

Three Motets Op.133 (1881) [9.43]
Mass in F for male choir and organ Op.190 (1898) [21.30]
Tribulationes from Five Hymns Op.140 (1878) [3.14]
Mass in G minor for female choir and organ Op.187 (1897) [20.04]
Mass in Eb (Cantus Missae) (1878) Op.109 [19.36]
Gloriae Dei Cantores
David Chalmers (organ)
Elizabeth Patterson (conductor)
Rec. Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA, 1994


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Having just reviewed this group’s later CD of Bach (recorded five years after this one and the result not so consistently good), I am more than ever impressed by the strength and quality of the tenors and basses in this choir. There’s a creamy tone and sublime line to the tenors, while the basses take on an almost Russian quality of tone in places. The work in which to hear them at their best is obviously the Mass in F for male voices and organ, and for this performance alone I would recommend this disc.

Rheinberger is probably known for his writing for organ. His first appointment was at the age of seven at the Vaduz Chapel of St Florian, with its largely Catholic German congregation. His first Mass appeared only a year later, and in a performance the precocious child admonished the officiating bishop for singing out of tune. He spent his life in Munich, became an esteemed professor of composition at the Conservatoire, conductor of the city’s choral society, and organist at St Michael’s Church. He had two operas performed there and held the influential post of conductor of the Royal Chapel from 1877 to 1895. He flirted with Wagner, having been caught up in the preparation of Tristan in 1865 under von Bülow (who thought very highly of him). He was no doubt further disenchanted by the experience of being patronised by the mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, not having Wagner’s sleight of hand in turning such a situation to his own advantage. When it came to making a decision, Rheinberger threw in his lot with the Brahms camp and took a more conservative path. However he also explored the distant past of Orlando di Lasso and the Venetian School.

Such a love for the past is clearly manifest in the contrapuntal character of his choral writing. He wrote eighteen masses of which four come from his student years. Only two are accompanied by orchestra. One, like Bruckner’s in E minor, is for male voices and wind instruments only. The one for female voices, subtitled sincere in memoriam takes its cue from Brahms’ writing for female voices, harp and two horns and is dedicated to the memory of the master who had just died. It is a strikingly beautiful work, colourful and rich-textured despite its limited vocal range. Its strengths are particularly apparent at the end of the Gloria and the Crucifixus in the Creed. The ladies of Gloriae Dei Cantores perform it effortlessly and with expressive colour. The disc ends with an idiomatic account of the a cappella Mass Op.109. This is another fine work with some sublime moments. It is scored for two choirs, was dedicated to Pope Leo XIII and earned Rheinberger admission to the Order of St Gregory.

This is an illuminating and revelatory disc which reflects great credit on this forty-strong choir, its organist David Chalmers, and upon the conductor Elizabeth Patterson.

Christopher Fifield

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