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Hyperion Records

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A Lake Landscape at Sunset by John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893)
Christie's, London / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDH55456
Recording details: June 2004
Wells Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: June 2005
Total duration: 9 minutes 28 seconds

'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)

'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)

'The sound is focused and radiant, the ensemble immaculate, and Rupert Gough provides charismatic organ accompaniment' (The Scotsman)

New College Service
author of text
Book of Common Prayer

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Howells wrote his settings of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis for New College, Oxford, in 1949 immediately after finishing the Gloucester Service which itself followed hard on the heels of Collegium Regale. It is interesting to return to the issue of acoustics here in order to see how very differently Howells knew his music would sound in the comparatively ‘dry’ acoustic of the medieval Oxford chapel compared with the enormously reverberant Gloucester spaces. Howells makes a setting which has much less of the Impressionist flavour of the two earlier settings. It still has its moments of ecstasy—‘He remembering his mercy’ to ‘Abraham and his seed for ever’ is as spine-tingling as anything in the Gloucester and Collegium Regale—but the heart of the matter is the totally different feeling engendered by acoustical properties. Similarly, the kind of mystical treble-voice meditations which begin both the Collegium Regale and Gloucester settings would simply not work as effectively in New College. The result is a ‘new look’ setting which is wonderfully effective in its range and directness.

from notes by Paul Spicer © 2005

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