Dona nobis pacem became a somewhat unexpected hit for Vaughan Williams. A fervently anti-war plea from the heart composed in 1936 as a pièce d’occasion for the Huddersfield Choral Society, it remains to this day one of the composer’s most widely performed works. Coupled with it here is the first recording of Stephen Hough’s Missa Mirabilis (the title derives from an unfortunate motorway incident), a work which shares with the Vaughan Williams an ability to seem very much greater than the sum of its parts. Andrew Litton directs the Colorado Symphony and all-star soloists Sarah Fox and Christopher Maltman.
Vaughan Williams's Dona nobis pacem is a work that wastes no time cutting to the quick, and nor does this performance of it: in the opening Agnus Dei soprano Sarah Fox is immediately intense and focused, the Colorado Symphony coiled and ready to spring on the explosive tutti that rips forth from the softer textures. BBC ****