Bruckner: Mass in E minor & Motets (CD Review - The Daily Telegraph, 2007)

With its refracted echoes of Palestrina, Bruckner's E minor Mass for choir and wind band stands as a sublime anachronism in a worldly, sceptical age. Recorded in the sumptuous acoustics of Ely Cathedral, Polyphony and the Britten Sinfonia catch the music's starkness, exaltation and mysticism as movingly as I have heard. This is a searching performance, with soft singing of awed intensity, but also an unusually dramatic one. Stephen Layton never allows Bruckner's music, even at its most unearthly, to become becalmed; and he builds climaxes of molten intensity in, say, the Sanctus, or the fervent motet Christus factus est. A glorious disc of music that strives for, and ultimately attains, a state of transcendent peace.

Richard Wigmore

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