Malcolm Williamson, the Queen's master of Music. celebrated a musical triumph last Friday when his "Mass of Christ the King" was performed for the first time in its entirety in Westminster Cathedral. The Queen Mother was the guest of honour.
The work had been commissioned for the 250th anniversary of the Three Choirs Festival, and dedicated to the Queen in her Silver Jubilee year.
It had not been completed in time for the festival, and until last weekend had been performed only piecemeal. The festival deadline had been a nail-biting affair, with individual sections of the work not arriving until the last moment.
Impatience with such a
tortuous and tantalising method of composition gave way to acclaim at the weekend. The work more than measured up to the challenge of its majestic theme.
It combined simplicity and consummate artistry. The 16 movements in the Mass span the spectrum of musical expression from the triumphant clamour of the choir and echo choir to the strength and purity of a single voice.