Gorgeous modern choral music
R. A. Robertson | Columbus, Indiana USA | 09/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This very reasonably priced two disc compilation first caught my eye with its beautiful cover art (carried onto the notes and even the discs themselves). Being familiar with the well-known "Long, Long Ago" and "Take Him, Earth, for Cherishing" I was eager for more of Howells' choral music. I picked up the set and have been utterly delighted with it.
The set seems designed to supplement recordings of Howells' larger choral masterpieces, and it covers most of his career. Earlier pieces, such as the "Nunc Dimittis" and "Haec Dies," are influenced by Renaissance polyphony, itself undergoing rediscovery as Howells began composing. Later works here display the full flowering of modern harmony, often in very lush accounts.
The Finzi Singers are simply marvelous. Entrances and intonation are always dead on, and the singers manage the marked chromatic and dynamic modulations flawlessly. The pieces here were recorded through the 1990's, usually in moderately resonant spaces, and with transparent engineering.
Most of these works are for unaccompanied choir, while a few have organ acccompaniment. Notes are useful without being pedantic, and the entire package is very well done. Urgently recommended to anyone who loves modern choral music, indeed to those who love choral music generally."