Canticle 1: Magnificat My soul doth magnify the Lord
Canticle 2: Nunc dimittis Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace
There is sprightly urgency and bright colouring in much of Mathias’s music: patently so in the anguishedly repeating ‘for ever’ at the Magnificat’s close. Yet such is Mathias’s musical dexterity and imagination that he is always able to spring a surprise, to tease out (à la Haydn) an unexpected twist, or evolve something unanticipated and magical out of an essentially simple idea. This is perfectly illustrated by the unforeseen breadth of the doxology, ‘Glory be to the Father’: an impressive final envoi whose nobilmente quality recalls the Evening Canticles by the English composer Edmund Rubbra. By contrast, the organum-like hushed opening of the Nunc dimittis veers between Orthodox-like simplicity and the shrewd inventiveness of Britten: someone who knew all too well how to write for boys’ (or indeed girls’) voices.
from notes by Roderic Dunnett © 2009