Friday, 14 May 2010

Herbert Howells: St John's Magnificat

Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) A Sequence for St Michael (1961) By the Waters of Babylon, from Psalm 137 (1917) A Spotless Rose (c.1919) Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (Gloucester) (1946) Psalm 142 (1974) [4:14] A Grace for 10 Downing Street (1972) One Thing Have I Desired (1968) Like as the Hart (1941) Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (Collegium Sancti Johannis Cantabrigiense) (1956/1966) Salve Regina (1915) Collegium Regale: Te Deum (1945)
Paul Whelan (baritone), David Adams (violin), Alice Neary (cello), Timothy Ravalde (organ) The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha
CHANDOS CHAN10587

A few weeks ago I reviewed this new release of Herbert Howells Choral Music. I suggested that there were some four excellent reasons why this CD should be at the top of the list for all Herbert Howells enthusiasts.

Reason One: the music is superbly sung by the well-known and highly respected Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge.
Reason Two: the excellent balance of the programme. This disc presents three major strands - well established repertoire, some lesser known works and, perhaps most excitingly, some first performances.
Reason Three: the three major liturgical settings performed here.
Reason Four: are the two short premieres.

I had not heard the motet ‘One Thing have I desired’. This work was composed for the 75th Patronal Festival of St Matthew’s Church, Northampton. It was commissioned by the legendary priest Walter Hussey, so well known for his patronage of the arts. It is a setting of the 27th Psalm for four-part mixed chorus. It is a haunting work that combines the numinous with a somewhat more earthy sensuality.

The other ‘premiere recording’ is the chant for Psalm 142. ‘I cried unto the Lord with my voice’ is a typically subtle setting of these great words. It is certainly a chant that should make an appearance in choirs and places where they sing Evensong on the 29th day of the month.

Please read my full review at MusicWeb International

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