MusicWeb International, April 2008
This disc is quite a departure from the Vasari Singer’s usual repertoire and there can be no doubt that Jeremy Backhouse and his choir proselytise most effectively on Will Todd’s behalf. I find the music itself variable but that’s a subjective reaction which other listeners may not share. Even so I’d say Mass in Blue is well worth investigating and Will Todd’s music receives the strongest possible advocacy on this CD.
MusicWebInternational - April 2008
"The prolific output of British composer Will Todd (born 1970) includes many choral works alongside operas and oratorios. Here the Mass in Blue (in which the choir is joined by a jazz combo) is complemented by some tuneful and predominantly meditative choral miniatures, many originally written for amateur or young performers. The melding of the Latin Mass and jazz styles may not be to everybody’s taste, but the result is vibrant and colourful and is performed with vitality and commitment." ****
Choir & Organ Magazine - December 2006
"...The performances are excellent, as is the recording."
Musical Opinion - September - October 2006
"...There you have it: a Jazz Mass (more Jazz than English mainstream) and a selection of Will Todd’s enjoyable choral pieces. Choral singers and directors (church and secular) on the lookout for enriching their choirs choice should get this as should anyone who appreciates a well-turned piece of sung music that brings off the balance between accessibility and sustained creative delight."
MuiscWebInternational - October 2006
"Jazz goes to church, for a Mass in Blue, praise the Lord"
"Liturgical jazz is nothing new: There have been worthy, if not particularly inspiring, sacred works by several accomplished jazz composers, including Jack Reilly, Michael Garrick, Dave Brubeck and Duke Ellington. Will Todd’s Mass in Blue, premiered in 2003 as Jazz Mass, is a very credible addition to that genre but, like its predecessors, provides little in the way of musical epiphanies or Damascene revelations. That said, it is an enjoyable listen. Todd clearly loves and understands jazz, qualities which don’t always go together in classically trained musicians professing an interest in what most dictionaries still hopelessly, inadequately and obsoletely define as garish, strongly-rhythmic, syncopated dance music. He does not use jazz forms and accents merely as exotic colourings but embraces their spirit and vibrancy. As a pianist, showcased especially well in the cadenza which opens the Kyrie and in the Sanctus, Todd is a respectable, workmanlike mainstream-modern player. There’s nothing to discommode anyone unwilling to come to terms with the developments of the last 50 years in jazz (or the past 95 years in classical music) but plenty to please listeners who appreciate skilful and entertaining writing. Todd is well served by the brass, reed and rhythm ensemble that joins the Vasari Singers for the Mass, and soprano Bethany Halliday solos with conviction.
The balance of the programme, with Todd accompanying on some tracks, comprises modest but effective settings of various psalms, poems and hymns. Mostly commissioned for school and church choirs, they are object lessons in economy and clarity, which the Vasari Singers perform impeccably."
Gramophone - Awards Issue 2006
"From the moment Gounod published the big beat Credo of his Messe solennelle de Sainte Cécile the affinity between the cadences of the latin mass and modern rhythmic music became apparent.
With his Mass in Blue Will Todd seizes these opportunities with gusto in a work of considerable depth and complexity.
The introduction to the Kyrie, for piano and orchestra, is overtly reminiscent of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with just a hint of Scott Joplin, but soon the perspective opens up to display a myriad of influences.
The Gloria has a simple plainchant opening before the voice of the soprano soloist floats apparently effortlessly above the ensemble. Todd writes with bold simplicity for the choir, and has the confidence to introduce some highly original harmonies and tempi.
Nonetheless, he adheres faithfully to the spirit of the Tridentine Mass and the clarity of words from both choir and soloist is exemplary. The work builds up to an extended Agnus Dei and a deeply satisfying conclusion."
MusicalPointers.co.uk - September 2006
"Will Todd’s Mass In Blue is a curious yet beguiling work that blends jazz and classical choral singing to stunning effect. Although it’s a bit odd hearing the Kyrie and Agnus Dei sounding like something that could be drifting out of a smoky speakeasy, once you get over the shock, it’s an addictive listen."
The Daily Express - 15 September 2006
Performances are excellent throughout, and the music becomes more absorbing on every playing. Fans of high-quality choral singing should not miss the opportunity to grab this with both hands as soon as possible.
Shirley Ratcliffe - musicOHM.com
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