Delius’s ‘A Mass of Life’

The Bach Choir are currently preparing a performance of this piece, and a friend made an intriguing observation, to the effect that the piece has an almost cult status in secularist musical circles as one of the very few choral works without an explicitly religious text. It set me thinking about how this might have played out in the piece’s critical reception. It also made me wonder about what influence this might have had in its (very limited) performance history. I should be very grateful for any observations anyone might have on this. I don’t really know the literature on Delius at all; his own belief position seems quite well documented, but I don’t know about his reputation more widely.

Further details of the performance in the Royal Festival Hall on May 21st at the Bach Choir site. The Mass seems to have attracted relatively few recordings, to judge from the discography on the Delius Society site.

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