'Mass in G minor' released

Posted on: 24 May 2018

We are delighted to release Mass in G minor, our latest album on the award-winning 'St John's Cambridge' label. The disc features choral works by Ralph Vaughan Williams. In the first week of its release, the disc has reached No.2 in the UK Classical Specialist Charts.

The disc has already received critical acclaim, receiving favourable reviews in BBC Radio 3 Record Review, MusicWeb International, and The Guardian and 5*s from BBC Music MagazineChoir & Organ and Planet Hugill. It has been included on Spotify's "Classical New Releases" Playlist and Gramophone's 'The Listening Room' playlist.

On the day we launched the album, our service of Choral Evensong was video broadcast live by Classic FM on Facebook. This was a first for both the Choir and Classic FM, and we believe that it is the first time that any collegiate or cathedral choir has live-streamed Evensong on social media. Whist live we received 32,000 views, and thousands more have since watched the service.

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Director of Music Andrew Nethsingha says of the mass: “It is my belief that the Mass in G Minor is one of the great British liturgical masterpieces of the twentieth century… I know of nothing remotely like it in previous British a capella music.” The work was composed between 1920-21, and it is one of many liturgical choral works on this disc that were written directly after the composer’s experience of the First World War as a wagon orderly.

The disc was accompanied by Joseph Wicks – now the Assistant Director of Music at Truro Cathedral – on the organ. It also features trumpeter David Blackadder, who performed in the majestic 'Lord, thou hast been our refuge.' We were delighted to hear that David would be performing at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle the day after the release.

The sleeve notes for the disc are written by Dr Ceri Owen, a research fellow at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, whose research is concerned with late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British music and musical culture. Ceri gave a short lecture recital after Evensong on launch day, which included two Vaughan Williams songs – sung by current Gentlemen of the Choir James Adams and James Quilligan – that she accompanied.

The album artwork features the image of a poppy by Canadian photographer Garvin Hunter.

★★★★★ Performance ★★★★★ Recording. As a single-disc anthology of Vaughan Williams's choral music this new St John's College CD is formidably attractive

Choral disc of the month, BBC Music Magazine

The boys are evidently in fine form. The solos well-taken by all voices throughout... An outstanding disc of choral Vaughan Williams

Andrew McGregor, Record Review on BBC Radio 3

Director Andrew Nethsingha shapes a performance of profound dignity and power, beautifully sung by this always impressive choir
★★★★★ Clean lines, rounded tone and a near perfect balance of voices

Choir & Organ (May - June 2018)

I’ve included Vaughan Williams’s virtuoso Lord, Thou has been our refuge which cleverly laminates two great melodies together using the words of Psalm 90 in two versions: the tune for O God, our help in ages past stealing in with extraordinary and understated power
This is a very fine disc indeed. Andrew Nethsingha has chosen the music with great discernment and conducts it with evident commitment and understanding. The choir sings marvellously from start to finish
Nobody who enjoys the sound of an English cathedral choir and who is in the market for this particular programme will be disappointed by this lovely disc

The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society Journal

...their latest release of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s unaccompanied Mass in G Minor shows them off at their very finest
★★★★★ The choir is in very fine form indeed, giving us some lovely elegant lines and delicate textures, yet also moments of great power and intensity. This is a very dynamic performance, as they follow Nethsingha's fluid direction
★★★★ The Choir of St John's College, Cambridge – still, under Andrew Nethsingha, retaining much of that gutsy Italianate singing styled under the directorship if the legendary George Guest – captures both the piety and the punch in this characterful recording

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Recorded on
15 March 2022
  • Responses and Preces: Radcliffe
  • Psalm 18 vv. 1-6 (tone i)
  • Readings: Ezekiel 36.22-27, Acts 19.1-10
  • Howells (Collegium Regale)
  • Elgar: Give unto the Lord
  • Voluntary: Bach  Prelude in C minor
Nethsingha is his own man and absolutely his own musician, which is why his choir continues to evolve and lead

Andrew Mellor, Gramophone