Notes and Editorial Reviews
Amy Beach's music has received increased attention in the late 1990s, due to renewed interest in both the achievements of women composers and American musical history. In addition to these concerns, Beach's work stands on its own merits, and her ambitious Grand Mass in E flat Major is among her most important achievements. More than an hour in length, the Mass was written in her early 20s and premiered in 1892.
Most impressive in this setting is the composer's exploration of a variety of musical textures, instrumental and vocal groupings, and styles of text-setting. Solo instruments--especially the English horn, on two heart-melting occasions--have prominent and effective roles. A dramatic sensibility infuses the Agnus Dei; the piece
builds from a soprano solo to full, massed forces before a transition to a peaceful conclusion, which includes reminiscences of themes from earlier in the work.
Recorded live at a 1995 Boston revival of the work, this recording falls short of doing it full justice, but there is much fine playing, and among the vocalists, soprano Margo Law and tenor Ray Bauwens stand out. Any shortcomings aside, this release is commendable for allowing this work to be heard once again. Read less
Works on This Recording
Mass in E flat major, Op. 5 by Amy Marcy Beach
Joel Schneider (Baritone),
Margot Law (Soprano),
Martha Remington (Mezzo Soprano),
Ray Bauwens (Tenor)
Stow Festival Chorus,
Stow Festival Orchestra
Written: 1890; USA
Date of Recording: 01/22/1995
Venue: Live Cathedral Church of Saint Paul, Boston
Length: 67 Minutes 12 Secs.
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