Sunday, 23 August 2009

Herbert Howells: Music from Hereford Cathedral

Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) Te Deum and Jubilate (Collegium Regale) (1944) O pray for the peace of Jerusalem No.1 of Four Anthems (1941) Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (Gloucester Service) (1946) We have heard with our ears No.2 of Four Anthem (1941) Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (Hereford Service) (1969) Like as the hart No.3 of Four Anthems (1941) Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (Worcester Service) (1951) Let God arise No.4 of Four Anthems (1941) Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (Collegium Regale) (1946)
The Choir of Hereford Cathedral conducted by Geraint Bowen with Peter Dyke, organ
REGENT REGCD316

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing this excellent CD of music by Herbert Howells. I confessed that I have always loved Hereford - both the Cathedral and the town. It seems to me to be the most unspoilt of the Three Choirs venues. Although I do concede that many people would question my judgement!
I believe that this “is an essential CD for all Howells enthusiasts as well as being a fine introduction to listeners who are not familiar with the composer's liturgical music”.
For most listeners, the main event on this CD is the three sets of Canticles for Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester. Few readers will be unaware of the importance of the great Three Choirs Festival in the lives of countless musicians - both from the local area and without. Howells had a long association with the Festival, from the time that he was studying with Herbert Brewer at Gloucester Cathedral, through the revelatory premiere of Ralph Vaughan Williams Tallis Fantasia down to the performance of Howells's own masterpieces Hymnus Paradisi and Missa Sabrinensis. It is hardly surprising that he chose to compose three of his finest settings of the 'Mag. and Nunc Dim' for 'his' cathedrals. All three of these works reveal a mature composer who was able to synthesise the traditions of Anglican choral music with his own personal impressionistic language.

Please read my full review at MusicWeb International

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