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Cat. No. CHAN 241-34 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 2
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CHAN 241-34 - Howells: Choral Works
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Available From: 01 June 2006
This collection is drawn from four successful discs that were released in the early 1990s.

Howells studied with Stanford and his music follows in the best English tradition of Elgar, Walton and Vaughan Williams. Mass in the Dorian Mode, which received its premiere recording when originally released on Chandos, is an early work and his first big score. It edges towards the ‘glamorous anguish’ of the Howells we know in the exquisite Salve Regina. Under Paul Spicer’s direction, the Finzi Singers produce sounds of melting beauty.

Howells’s choral music has a clear religious cast to it, even in works of a more secular nature. His Two Madrigals are medieval laments of love, appropriately Gregorian in character. The Summer is Coming was composed in 1965 in memory of Arnold Bax and manages to conjure some of the composer’s spirit. Take him, Earth, for Cherishing, Howells’ ‘Motet on the Death of President Kennedy’, in fact derives much of its emotion from the composer’s grief at losing his own son, Michael, in 1935 at the age of nine. That event galvanised Howells’s creativity in the latter half of his life. The piece is not heroic or maudlin, but has a refreshing, even-tempered balance that walks a fine line between grandeur and common tragedy. Howells’ Requiem is the work which prepared the way for Hymnus Paradisi, providing some of the material for it.

This is a comprehensive anthology of Howells’s choral works and an important document for fans of British choral music.
Reviews

Spicer’s singers lovingly shape his warmly laid-back melodies and ravish the ear with his sweet and sour harmonies on this worthy re-release.
The Times

The Finzi singers are among England’s finest choirs devoted to music of the 20th Century. Their smooth technique, rich tome (for Brits), and beautifully nuanced readings do this exalted music full justice. Nicely remastered sound and full texts complete an irresistible package. An essential investment.
American Record Guide

Reviews from original releases:
‘The Finzi Singers, 18-strong, give a fresh and atmospheric, beautifully-moulded performance’
The Penguin Complete Guide

‘The imaginative registration, choral tone, recorded sound and written presentation are all admirable features of ahighly recommendable disc’.
Gramophone

‘A choir of real accomplishment that goes from strength to strength with every disc it makes.’
The Independent

 

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