This is surely the finest recording of Howells' beautiful Requiem, which was originally written for Kings' College Cambridge, and not in memory of his son, Michael, as previously thought (Michael's memorial is that other great Howells work, "Hymnus Paridisi"). Like Brahms, Howells exchanged the text of the traditional Latin "Missa Defunctis" for a sequence of Psalms and other sacred texts, including the "Salvator Mundi" in English, the 23rd psalm, and the Introit from the Requiem Mass, amongst others.
Alongside the Requiem features the beautiful St Paul's Service, two glorious organ pieces (the pedal reeds make the speakers shake!), and the motet "Take him, earth, for cherishing" - one of the most moving and perfect of choral motets to have been written in the 20th century.
The recording is surely unsurpassed by the ever-excellent choir of St John's College, Cambridge (a choir which Howells directed during the war), and is under the skilled and assured baton of the great Christopher Robinson. Both the performance and the sound quality are superb, and the acoustics are perfect for the repertoire. Soloists also make a brief appearance in the Requiem are really quite something, and the tone of the trebles in the choir is soft and lilting whilst maintaining clarity and purity of tone - something which makes St John's stand out from other Cambridge Colleges.
A truly superb recording from the Naxos label once again, which enjoys pride of place amongst my Howells discs.