Album Review

Posted: Tuesday 11th January 2000
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Kodály: Choral Works – BBC Music Magazine

Kodály’s choral music dominates his output and everywhere on these recordings, both of which are focused on the 1945 revision of the Missa brevis for organ, soloists and choir, there is abundant evidence of his expertise. Though tonal, at times strongly modal and direct in idiom, there is much subtlety in his settings, notably in the luxurious textures of Evening, his first published chorus, and the evocative Matra Pictures; in short, a marvellous resource for choirs.

Although the two performances of the Mass are quite different, the honours in terms of quality are more or less equal. The Danish National Radio Choir makes a fine sound with some lovely rich alto voices; just occasionally the vocal lines are slightly fragmented, and some may find the portamento a little excessive. The Vasari Singers, recorded in a less resonant acoustic, produce clean lines and give a pervasive feeling in the Mass that more is being communicated than just atmosphere, but the Danish choir in general provides the more homogeneous sound. One outstanding feature of the Vasari’s recording is the magnificent organ playing of Jeremy Filsell, especially in Laudes organi. A choice to be made on taste rather than quality.

Jan Smaczny
BBC Music Magazine