Recorded as Malcolm Archer’s farewell from Wells Cathedral prior to his prestigious appointment to St Paul’s in London,
this generously filled album presents some of Howells’s best choral works, some well known, others less so.
In 1944 Howells wrote a set of Morning Canticles for King’s College, Cambridge. With the Evening Canticles recorded
here coming the following year, the ‘Coll. Reg.’ settings immediately set the benchmark for twentieth-century liturgical
composition and led to the composer being besieged by requests from cathedrals and collegiate chapels for other such
‘custom-built’ settings. It was the composer’s innate understanding of the individual characteristics—acoustic,
architecture and choral timbre—of each foundation which made these works so successful and popular. This programme
includes the Morning Canticles written for St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle and the Evening Canticles which
constitute the ‘New College Service’.
Ever the master of the choral miniature, the Three Carol-Anthems are among Howells’s most perennially popular works,
having been recorded and performed across the globe. Several of the other pieces included here are less famous, but all
display their composer’s inimitable mastery of form and choral technique.
‘The phrasing of Malcolm Archer’s Wells Cathedral Choir is unobtrusively intelligent, Howells’ long, powerfully expanding crescendos emerging as
naturally evolving arcs in the ongoing argument. Tonal blend is excellent, and there is no superficial straining for effect whatsoever. This is genuinely
devotional singing, technique placed at the disposal of the music’s spiritual message. Rupert Gough’s organ accompaniments are exemplary’
(BBC Music Magazine)
‘The sound is focused and radiant, the ensemble immaculate, and Rupert Gough provides charismatic organ accompaniment’ (The Scotsman)
‘Rupert Gough’s accompaniments are tastefully executed and help make this portrait of the range and diversity of a side to Howells all too often taken
for granted a highly worthwhile release’ (International Record Review)