Even the manner and structure of the performing forces--double choir, a cappella--clearly indicates that Vaughan Williams's venerable Mass in G Minor, premiered in 1922, is a throwback, perhaps to Bach, Gabrieli, or one of... more » the great 16th-century English masters. In fact, there are many influences at work in this fusion of ancient chant style and austere modal harmony with a more modern, expansive structural concept. The writing style elicits a characterful confidence typical of much of Vaughan Williams's music--born of early 20th century English colonial pride and the remnants of 19th-century Romanticism. The younger Howells composed his Requiem in 1936, and although it's often reminiscent--especially in its harmonic style--of Vaughan Williams, it reaches much further while imparting a deep emotional power. The Requiem Aeternam movements are exquisite. --David Vernier« less
Even the manner and structure of the performing forces--double choir, a cappella--clearly indicates that Vaughan Williams's venerable Mass in G Minor, premiered in 1922, is a throwback, perhaps to Bach, Gabrieli, or one of the great 16th-century English masters. In fact, there are many influences at work in this fusion of ancient chant style and austere modal harmony with a more modern, expansive structural concept. The writing style elicits a characterful confidence typical of much of Vaughan Williams's music--born of early 20th century English colonial pride and the remnants of 19th-century Romanticism. The younger Howells composed his Requiem in 1936, and although it's often reminiscent--especially in its harmonic style--of Vaughan Williams, it reaches much further while imparting a deep emotional power. The Requiem Aeternam movements are exquisite. --David Vernier
"This was the debut recording of the Requiem of Herbert Howells (1892-1983), paired with a sensitive recording of Ralph Vaughan Williams' (1872-1958) Mass in G Minor. Howells initially wrote his Requiem in memory of his son Michael who had tragically died in 1935 (at the age of nine) of spinal meningitis. It is an intensely personal and intimately expressive work which was essentially kept from publication until 1980. It is interesting to note that this recording was completed in February 1983, less than two weeks before the composer himself died at the age of 90. The other Howells piece featured is the less well-known Take Him Earth for Cherishing, which he was commissioned to write in memoriam following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It was premiered in 1964. Matthew Best and the Corydon Singers have provided what is in my estimation the definitive recording of this deeply moving Requiem."
Fine music, fine performers
Mark Swinton | 05/05/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hyperion were the first company to record the Corydon Singers, described by one former colleague of mine as "one of the best choirs in this country or any other." Certainly, they have a taughtness of sound that befits the music they present, and they capture a suitably "pastoral English" sound which is the next best thing to hearing it sung by our country's famous treble-dominated cathedral choirs.This disc is marked out by its programming which is striking and ingenious. Both Vaughan Williams and Howells (each in his own way a quintessentially "English" composer) are represented by a small-scale work alongside their large-scale eponymous works. The Vaughan Williams "Mass in G minor" is one of the great choral masterpieces of the so-called English Renaissance and in this recording the Corydon Singers give it a necessary ambience and lucidity that make for compelling listening. In addition, there is an appearance by Birmingham City organist Thomas Trotter, who accompanies the G major "Te Deum" with great vigour and sensitivity.A work in the same mould as, but even more intense and powerful than, the Vaughan Williams Mass is Howells' "Requiem." This was actually not performed or published until just before the composer's death for obviously personal and deeply tragic reasons. It is a true masterpiece, littered with gems of choral writing that work just as well in separate movements as they do as part of the whole work (for instance, the ravishing setting of Psalm 23, which is the second movement in a rather unconventional structure and can be heard either on its own or with the surrounding movements). What is a pity about this part of the recording is that the Corydon Singers sound somewhat undernourished- as though they had a sudden shortage of people at the time and just had to make do with small forces. Thus, some of the lush harmonies are lost, and there seems to be an overbalancing between women and men in parts of it.With the last track, however, the choir really comes into its own, in Howell's short but profoundly moving tribute in memory of President John F. Kennedy: "Take him, earth, for cherishing." In this, the numbers in the choir seem absolutely perfect, the music is brilliant, evocative and easy on the ear, and the skill of the Corydon Singers is most apparent.This disc is a very strong offering of some quite intriguing music, and is well worth a look particularly if you are familiar with the popular Requiem settings by Durufle and Faure. Strongly recommended."
A voice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 03/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"EXCELLENT ENGLISH CHORAL MUSIC PRESENTED BY OUTSTANDING PERFORMERS!
initially bought this disc for 2 reasons: because of the solo line-up and because I do like the music of Vaughan Williams and I had never heard his Mass in G Minor. This G minor mass is purposefully spiritual in the manner of great Elizabethan liturgical music, employing clearly defined imitative entries for the voices, melodic shapes derived from plainchant, modal harmonies. However, Vaughan Williams did not abandon the suggestions of English folksong and parallel harmonies typical of his style in general.His 'Te Deum in G major'is written for divided mixed choir and organ.
I didn't realize how much I would also enjoy the music of Herbert Howells. His 'Requiem' is written for divided mixed chorus and soprano(Janet Coxwell)-alto(Michael Chance)-tenor (Philip Salmon)-bass(Jonathan Best) soloists. Howell's 'Take Him Earth, for cherishing'(a motet) was first performed in Washington in 1964, and is one of the best of Howell's shorter pieces,with its clear outline, tunefulness, and arresting harmonies. It was a commorative for President John F. Kennedy; the final thought being "feared Death becomes the gateway to eternal light".
This is the finest choral English choral music I have ever heard!!!! The voices of the soloists border on the divine and the way they are alternated with the Corydon Singers in the Mass is truly a compositional masterpiece. Of course the pure sound of Michael Chance woven throughout both the Mass and the Requiem adds so much to the ethereal quality of all the music.The good diction was much appreciated by me since there seems to be a tendency to "chew up" words in some choral groups. I loved the 23rd Psalm which is part of Howell's Requiem. The solo voices were so outstanding in this as in all of their contributions. This was so enjoyable; don't miss it!!!!"
It Gets Five Stars Because I Couldn't Give it Six
Thomas O. Morey | Columbus, GA United States | 03/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The perfect recording of what is perhaps the most intensely moving choral work in the entire repertoire in the Howells Requiem. The other choral works stand out as strong and noteworthy efforts of their kind."