Howells: Choral Music [Malcolm Archer, Rupert Gough, Wells Cathedral Choir] [Hyperion: CDH55456]
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Recorded as Malcolm Archer's farewell from Wells Cathedral prior to his prestigious appointment to St Paul's in London, this generously filled album presents some of Howells's best choral works, some well known, others less so.
In 1944 Howells wrote a set of Morning Canticles for King's College, Cambridge. With the Evening Canticles recorded here coming the following year, the 'Coll. Reg.' settings immediately set the benchmark for twentieth-century liturgical composition and led to the composer being besieged by requests from cathedrals and collegiate chapels for other such 'custom-built' settings. It was the composer's innate understanding of the individual characteristicsacoustic, architecture and choral timbreof each foundation which made these works so successful and popular. This programme includes the Morning Canticles written for St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle and the Evening Canticles which constitute the 'New College Service'.
Ever the master of the choral miniature, the Three Carol-Anthems are among Howells's most perennially popular works, having been recorded and performed across the globe. Several of the other pieces included here are less famous, but all display their composer's inimitable mastery of form and choral technique.
Excellent, idiomatic performances, with a particularly strong response to the lyrical and introspective elements in Howells's writing. Performance **** Recording **** --BBC Music Magazine, June'14
Top Customer Reviews
The organ playing throughout is refined and well balanced, with Hyperion offering a sound which is not too closely miked but still full of detail. To cap it all, Archer's interpretative points and tempi are spot on - these are big boned, affirmative performances. At Helios' reduced pricing, I strongly recommend this, alongside the more recent Trinity Cambridge disk (conducted by Stephen Layton - also on Hyperion) and the older King's recording on Argo (conducted by Stephen Cleobury) as an ideal introduction to Howells' music for the Anglican liturgy.