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Howells: Requiem CD

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Trinity College Choir Cambridge
  • Conductor: Stephen Layton
  • Composer: Herbert Howells
  • Audio CD (26 Mar. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B0072A4FC0
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,721 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. A Hymn for St Cecilia - Simon Bland/Trinity College Choir, Cambridge
  2. Salve regina - Hannah Partridge/Trinity College Choir, Cambridge
  3. Gloucester Service - Jeremy Cole/Trinity College Choir, Cambridge
  4. Take him, earth, for cherishing - Jeremy Cole/Trinity College Choir, Cambridge
  5. St Pauls Service - Trinity College Choir, Cambridge
  6. Requiem - Simon Bland/Trinity College Choir, Cambridge
  7. All my hope on God is founded - Simon Bland/Trinity College Choir, Cambridge

Product Description

Product Description

Herbert Howells was acutely sensitive to the transience of life, having witnessed the loss of friends and contemporaries in the First World War and encountered deep personal tragedy when his son Michael died of polio at the age of just nine. And so a mood of elegiac yearning inhabits much of his choral music: the austere, lovely a cappella Requiem, and the elegant Take him, earth, for cherishing, commissioned to commemorate the death of President John F Kennedy, here lovingly performed by the young voices of Trinity College Choir, Cambridge. And yet Howells could write magnificently thrilling music too, as demonstrated by the fresh brilliance of A Hymn for St Cecilia, the spine-tingling grandeur of the St Paul's Service, or the life-affirming hymn All my hope on God is founded , here further sweetened with a descant by John Rutter.

BBC Review

Herbert Howells' Requiem must be one of the most beautiful and searingly moving works in the entire English sacred musical canon. Written in the early 30s but not released until 1980, it is inextricably linked to untimely youthful death; Howells modelled it on Walford Davies' A Short Requiem of 1915, written in memory of those killed in the war. Later, he drew heavily from it for Hymnus Paradisi, his memorial to the nine-year-old son he lost to polio in 1935.

However, despite all this, the Requiem manages to express not just deep grief but also eternal hope, largely thanks to its unusual structure. It juxtaposes traditional “Salvator mundi” and “Requiem aeternam” movements with settings of three of the Bible's most encouraging passages: Psalms 23 and 121, and John's vision in the book of Revelation of the new heavens and the new earth.

The Requiem appears here as the climax of a Howells-only programme that spans the decades of his career. A Hymn for St Cecilia, written in 1960, opens the disc, followed by a much earlier work, the 1916 Salve Regina. Also to be enjoyed are the Gloucester Service and the St Paul's Service, Take Him, Earth, for Cherishing, and the rousing hymn All My Hope on God is Founded.

In all, it's a glorious celebration of Howells' sacred output, creating a highly sympathetic musical picture of a composer deeply affected by death (three of the works on this disc are linked in some way to his son), but also capable of much joy. Gorgeously sung throughout, this is repertoire perfectly suited to Trinity Choir's pure, chorister-like sound. Their graceful, dignified reading of the Requiem, framed within the wonderful acoustic of Ely Cathedral's Lady Chapel, is one to cherish.

--Charlotte Gardner

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Trinity's Howells disc is a stellar affair. Featuring two of the greatest evening services - those dedicated to Gloucester and St. Paul's cathedrals - as well as his motet in memory of JFK and the Requiem he wrote in response to his son Michael's death, the recording balances the private and public Howells. One thing, however, joins the whole enterprise together: the smooth but strident sound of the Trinity choir.

Conductor Stephen Layton inherited a safe but secure instrument from his predecessor Richard Marlow. There's now a more honeyed tone in the choir, echoing his mature professional outfit Polyphony. While the men's sound can't quite thrill in that way - these are, after all, much younger singers - they have a disarming candour. It's an odd contradiction, then, that Lincoln Cathedral was chosen for the accompanied works. On this recording, the organ tends to dominate upper registers. Whether an acoustic flaw, recording anomaly or simple act of registration, the organ is often too forward (if brilliantly played).

But the recordings made in Ely Lady Chapel are sublime. This, for the larger part, is Howells in mourning, tapping into the unspoken life of an Englishman. No holds barred, tenderness and tears come to the fore when confronting the death of his beloved son Michael. Although Trinity cannot quite eclipse the maturity of Paul Spicer's recording on Chandos with the Finzi Singers, this is a beautifully paced performance. The JFK motet 'Take him, earth, for cherishing', on the other hand, leads a very strong field of performances. Precision and shape are balanced, beautifully backlighting Howells' crushing response to Helen Waddell's text.
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Format: Audio CD
This disc has just won the Gramaphone Award for the Choral Category. Sublime music, incredible singing - worth every penny.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought this to learn the Requiem. It is a lovely CD
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I heard this initially on BBC Radio 3. Thought it fantastic so bought it immediately. I have a limited understanding of choral music, but some of this is exquisite!
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I liked the CD which combined several works. Listening to the hymns and services performed by the Choir of Trinity College was a lovely hour.
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