Notes and Editorial Reviews
Exemplary performances of extremely moving, accomplished and utterly gorgeous pieces.
Although all of these works were composed when Herbert Howells was still in his 20s, they nonetheless show a composer who has already found his voice, who has developed both a strong musical personality and an excellent grasp of how to phrase what he wants to say.
The Piano Quartet in A minor was submitted by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, Howells’s teacher at the Royal College of Music, for inclusion in the Carnegie Foundation publication series. It had the honour of being the first score, and the only one by an as yet unfamiliar name, to be published by the Carnegie Trust. It is dedicated to the "hill at Chosen and
Ivor Gurney who knew it". Chosen, or Churchdown Hill is a great mound of a hill between Cheltenham and Gloucester that offers spectacular panoramic views and was a favourite haunt of Herbert Howells and the friend of his youth, Ivor Gurney. The quartet reflects this most quintessentially English of places and also the warmth and affection which Howells held for both this place, and for Gurney. The Richards Piano Quartet give a passionate and intelligent performance of this glorious work, creating great sonority, and allowing the nostalgia and yearning to shine through. Theirs is a wonderfully rich sound, and they instil in the music an incredible intensity, and a searing beauty. The ensuing Fantasy String Quartet is likewise played with immense sensitivity, and the Rhapsodic Quintet, that concludes the disc - like the Quartet, a work in one movement - is given a superbly sinuous clarinet line that is expertly performed by Thea King.
There is something incredibly English about these works, and they sum up all the poetry and beauty, and, occasionally, the melancholy and harshness, of the English countryside, depicting it in all its moods and through all forces of nature. Exemplary performances of extremely moving, accomplished and utterly gorgeous pieces!
-- Em Marshall, MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
Music for Strings: I. Allegro moderato, energico
Music for Strings: II. Andante molto, sostenuto - Poco allegretto - Tempo I
Music for Strings: III. Allegro molto - Andante moderato - Allegro con spirito - Allegro molto - Presto
Meditations on a Theme by John Blow: Introduction: Largamente - Agitato, 'The Lord is my Shepherd', 'I will fear no evil'
Meditations on a Theme by John Blow: Meditation I: Allegro moderato, ma tranquillo, 'He leadeth me beside the still waters'
Meditations on a Theme by John Blow: Meditation II: Allegro deciso, 'Thy rod and staff they comfort me'
Meditations on a Theme by John Blow: Meditation III: Scherzando, The Lambs
Meditations on a Theme by John Blow: Meditation IV: Allegro, 'He restoreth my soul'
Meditations on a Theme by John Blow: Meditation V: Larghetto, 'In green pastures'
Meditations on a Theme by John Blow: Interlude: Molto agitato, 'Through the valley of the shadow of death'
Meditations on a Theme by John Blow: Finale: Moderato e deciso, 'In the House of the Lord'
A Prayer fo the Infant Jesus for unaccompanied women's voices
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