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Herbert Howells: St John's Magnificat

> A Sequence for St. Michael - A Sequence for St. Michael
> By the Waters of Babylon - By the Waters of Babylon
> A Spotless Rose - A Spotless Rose
> Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (Gloucester Service) - Magnificat
> Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (Gloucester Service) - Nunc dimittis
> Psalm 142 - Psalm 142
> A Grace for 10 Downing Street - A Grace for 10 Downing Street
> One Thing Have I Desired - One Thing Have I Desired
> Like as the hart - Like as the Hart
> Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (Collegium Sancti Johannis Cantabrigiense) - Magnificat
> Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (Collegium Sancti Johannis Cantabrigiense) - Nunc dimittis
> 4 Anthems to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Op. 9 - 4 Anthems to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Op. 9: No. 4. Salve Regina
> Te Deum (Collegium Regale) - Te Deum (Collegium Regale)

Album Summary

>Howells, Herbert : Sequence for St Michael
>Howells, Herbert : By the Waters of Babylon, for baritone, violin, cello & organ
>Howells, Herbert : Carol-Anthems (3) for Chorus
>Howells, Herbert : Gloucester Service
>Howells, Herbert : Psalm 142 ("I cried unto the Lord with my voice"), for chorus & organ
>Howells, Herbert : A Grace for 10 Downing Street, for chorus & organ
>Howells, Herbert : One Thing Have I Desired, motet for chorus & organ
>Howells, Herbert : Anthems (4) for Chorus
>Howells, Herbert : Magnificat (Collegium Santi Johannis Cantabrigiense)
>Howells, Herbert : Nunc Dimittis (Collegium Santi Johannis Cantabrigiense)
>Howells, Herbert : Salve Regina, for chorus
>Howells, Herbert : Te Deum & Jubilate (Collegium Regale)
Performers Composer

Notes & Reviews:

This recording heralds the beginning of an exclusive recording contract between Chandos and the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge. All performances will be conducted by Andrew Nethsingha, the Choir's Director of Music since 2007. The disc of choral music by Herbert Howells includes two settings of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis: one setting was written for St John's, where Howells was Acting Organist during World War II; the other for Gloucester Cathedral in the composer's native county.

"How appropriate that the current choir of St. John's is at work here...The treble choristers sing sweetly, and their lay clerks are relatively free of the hooty affectations that commonly plagued earlier English cathedral choirs. Director Nethsingha has a sure touch with Howell's unique idiom, drawing pleasing interpretations at every turn. Both vocal and instrumental soloists perform splendidly, as does the organist. Chandos delivers its usual pristine sound and sees to a complete and informative booklet. The album is a revealing one-stop survey for people with little or no Howells in their collections; it further offers a number of rarities that many of the composer's legion of devotees have probably never heard."-American Record Guide

"If you are at all interested in Howells's church music this disc is an obligatory purchase...Here the emotion of the music feelingly and unapologetically wells upward to the surface, making raw and immediate the spiritual impetus of Howells's writing." -BBC Music Magazine *****

"the new, clear tone [of the boys at St John's College, Cambridge] under its present director, Andrew Nethsingha, certainly has an impressive vibrancy and conviction. Not since David Willcocks's memorable recording of Howells's church music...have I heard such precise intonation" -Gramophone Magazine

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, England (2009-01-09&2009-01-10&2009-).



Reviews

An English choral giant
For some unfortunate reason Herbert Howells is a composer who is little-known outside the world of choir and organ aficionados. Think about it, when was the last time you heard a Howells work in concert? How sad. Howells was a remarkable composer who had superior melodic chops, an original harmonic palette and a knack for piercing the heart with passionate, deeply felt music. He is one of the giants of the Anglican choral tradition and I revere him. This new recording by the Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge is a sure thing for choral fans and is the first release in a new series of recordings by the choir for Chandos. Howells has been treated pretty well on recent recordings. There’s a very good recording of his sublime Requiem and other works sung by the St. John’s Choir that was released by Naxos in 1999— fortunately not much of the repertoire is duplicated on the Chandos disc and this new disc actually has two world premieres: A Grace for 10 Downing Street and chant for Psalm 147. If you want more Howells I also recommend recordings by The Choir of Wells Cathedral (Hyperion) and The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (Signum). This is a terrific program with many highlights. A Sequence for St. Michael is a dramatic motet with striking choral writing and an extended solo for tenor. By the Waters of Babylon is a little-known masterpiece, something akin to a choral tone poem. Here’s the English pastoral tradition in full glory with a highly expressive solo part for baritone and rhapsodic violin, cello and organ accompaniment. The premieres are quite strong too. There are also some chestnuts. While it’s one of my all-time favorite English carols, perhaps not every Howells collection needs A Spotless Rose? Aficionados will also be familiar with Like As A Hart and the Te Deum he wrote for King’s College. The two sets of evening canticles are pretty well-known and are beautifully performed. The Gloucester Service was composed in honor of Howells’ “own” Cathedral at Gloucester, while the Collegium Sancti Johannis Cantabrigiense was originally intended for Salisbury Cathedral (the story of how it ended up at St. John’s is the result of a mix-up in a newspaper article about Howells – read the excellent liner notes for details). These are superb settings and are magnificently sung. As you would expect the choir sings magnificently. This music is in their blood and Andrew Nethsingha (their new Director of Music) leads gorgeous performances filled with clarity and power. This is an indispensable recording for any lover of choral music and a wonderful introduction to Howells for those who haven’t yet made the great man’s acquaintance.
Submitted on 05/17/10 by Craig Zeichner 
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Works Details

>Howells, Herbert : Sequence for St Michael
  • Performers: Tim Ravalde (Organ); Pablo Strong (Treble)
  • Notes: St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, England (2009-01-09&2009-01-10&2009-)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 9 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1961

>Howells, Herbert : By the Waters of Babylon, for baritone, violin, cello & organ
  • Performers: Paul Whelan (Bass Baritone); Tim Ravalde (Organ); Alice Neary (Cello); David Adams [Violin/Viola] (Violin)
  • Notes: St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, England (2009-01-09&2009-01-10&2009-)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1917

>Howells, Herbert : Carol-Anthems (3) for Chorus
  • Performers: Tim Ravalde (Organ); Gareth John (Organ)
  • Notes: St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, England (2009-01-09&2009-01-10&2009-)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1919

>Howells, Herbert : Gloucester Service
  • Performer: Tim Ravalde (Organ)
  • Notes: St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, England (2009-01-09&2009-01-10&2009-)
  • Running Time: 11 min. 32 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Howells, Herbert : Psalm 142 ("I cried unto the Lord with my voice"), for chorus & organ
  • Performer: Tim Ravalde (Organ)
  • Notes: St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, England (2009-01-09&2009-01-10&2009-)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Howells, Herbert : A Grace for 10 Downing Street, for chorus & organ
  • Performers: Dominic Kraemer (Organ); Tim Ravalde (Organ); Francis Williams (Organ)
  • Notes: St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, England (2009-01-09&2009-01-10&2009-)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 35 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Howells, Herbert : One Thing Have I Desired, motet for chorus & organ
  • Performer: Tim Ravalde (Organ)
  • Notes: St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, England (2009-01-09&2009-01-10&2009-)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Choral

>Howells, Herbert : Anthems (4) for Chorus
  • Performers: Tim Ravalde (Organ); Thomas Mullock (Treble)
  • Notes: St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, England (2009-01-09&2009-01-10&2009-)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 56 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1941

>Howells, Herbert : Magnificat (Collegium Santi Johannis Cantabrigiense)
  • Performer: Tim Ravalde (Organ)
  • Notes: St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, England (2009-01-09&2009-01-10&2009-)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Choral

>Howells, Herbert : Nunc Dimittis (Collegium Santi Johannis Cantabrigiense)
  • Performer: Tim Ravalde (Organ)
  • Notes: St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, England (2009-01-09&2009-01-10&2009-)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Choral

>Howells, Herbert : Salve Regina, for chorus
  • Performers: Tim Ravalde (Organ); Thomas Last (Treble)
  • Notes: St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, England (2009-01-09&2009-01-10&2009-)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 49 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Howells, Herbert : Te Deum & Jubilate (Collegium Regale) :: Te Deum
  • Performer: Tim Ravalde (Organ)
  • Notes: St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, England (2009-01-09&2009-01-10&2009-)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 3 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1944