H. Howells, Requiem (inter alia),
Choir of Trinity College,
Cambridge, S. Layton
(released on April 10, 2012)
Hyperion CDA67914 | 64'09"
The disc is rounded out by the Hymn for Saint Cecilia, on an ecstatic text by Ursula Vaughan Williams, a poet who was the second wife of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams; two settings of the Evensong canticles, the Gloucester Service and the St. Paul's Service; and the popish Salve regina, which is a gem in Howells output. The last of these dates from his student days at the Royal College of Music, where Charles Stanford, one of his teachers, recommended that Howells and his other students go to hear the outpouring of Catholic liturgical music then being revived at London's new Westminster Cathedral under that notorious Catholic convert, R. R. Terry. The performances here are all top-notch, from the mixed undergraduate choir (women instead of boys, that is) of Trinity College, Cambridge, under Stephen Layton, with blistering contributions by organ scholars Simon Bland and Jeremy Cole. The generally excellent Hyperion sound (engineering by David Hinitt) captures all of the dynamic range, subtlety, and acoustical reverberation of the rooms in Ely and Lincoln Cathedrals where the tracks were recorded. The next person who raves to me about the pedestrian music of Eric Whitacre will be assigned Herbert Howells for correction.