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Richmond Symphony Performs Mason Bates and Vaughan Williams

By Pierre-Yves Lascar | Video of the Day | August 19, 2019
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Qobuz

This unique program is a good way to discover Mason Bates’ latest work. The tireless composer took on a request from the Richmond Symphony for the formation’s 60th birthday. The result is Children of Adam, a cycle based upon texts celebrating the Creation, from American poets or sacred writing by Native Americans. The sheet music is structured into 7 parts, and clearly highlights chorals, while adding some filler. Bates, by all accounts, prefers the orchestra to the choir. In other words, an excellent recording of his Anthology Fantastic Zoology by Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO Resound) is proof to that point.

The shining light in this album is the Dona nobis pacem incipit by Vaughan Williams, composed in 1936. The work was rarely recorded and was ordered for the Huddersfield Choral Society’s 100th anniversary. Parallels could be drawn between the former work and the rough, anxiety-inducing Symphony #4, completed two years earlier. The work’s text is based upon an extract from the Agnus Dei of roman catholic mass, passages from the prophetic books in the Old Testament, a John Bright speech given to the House of Commons during the Crimea War, as well as three striking Walt Whitman poems –one of Vaughan Williams’ favorite authors. This new album is an excellent reevaluation of Vaughan Williams’ significance in 20th century music history, as well as his deeply unique sonic personality.

Listen to Mason Bates: Children of Adam - Vaughan Williams: Dona nobis pacem (Live) by the Richmond Symphony on Qobuz!

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