Mathias: Ave Rex, Elegy, This Worlde's Joie / Atherton Et Al
This, of course, makes us think of Britten, and indeed it is difficult not to think of him, and to a lesser extent Tippett, throughout the disc. In his useful booklet-note, Geraint Lewis acknowledges this but expresses it in terms of ''occasional points of contact and homage'', which is probably excessively diplomatic. We are still, I think, too close to these composers of our time to avoid the word 'derivative': in a few more years it will probably not matter or affect enjoyment, which, irrespective of such questions, is still quite considerable. This Worlde's Joie moves delightfully from one good setting to another, always contriving to unify the structure and work effectively towards climax and contrast. The Prince of the Elegy is Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, killed by English soldiers in 1282: a stern mood prevails, the orchestral writing harder and more austere than the composer's usual style though it yields to some tender expression in the last section.
Sir Geraint Evans, who gave the Elegy's first performance at Llandaff in 1972, sings with authority and dark coloration (for the most part the tessitura is low, rising towards the end and finishing with a sustained soft high E). The soloists in the cantata are excellent and I couldn't help wondering why more was not heard on record of Janet Price. Willcocks and Atherton conduct with vigour and care for detail, and the recordings are admirably clean. In the original review of This Worlde's Joie Trevor Harvey found the words ''not all that clear'', but this seems largely to have been remedied, and indeed one of the best features of Mathias's writing for voices is that he is habitually careful to make the music serve the words and not obscure them.
-- Gramophone [2/1995]
Catalog Number: SRCD324
Composer: William Mathias
Conductor: David Atherton, Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble: Bach Choir, London Symphony Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Welsh National Opera Chorus, Windsor Castle St. George's Chapel Choir
Performer: Janet Price, Kenneth Bowen, Michael Rippon, Sir Geraint Evans