Howells composed four Rhapsodies for organ. The first three were all written during the First World War between 1915 and 1917, and published together as Op 17. Howells did not return to the form until 1958 for Rhapsody No 4. In the meantime his music for organ had included the monumental Sonata of 1932 and the Six Pieces of 1939–45. Although the title ‘Rhapsody’ suggests free form, all four of Howells’ examples are cast in the same extended ternary structure with a contrasting reflective middle section, framed by dramatic openings and endings. The difference in Rhapsody No 4 is that all the music is tense and nervous, much more extrovert than hitherto and full of short bursts of energy.
from notes by Paul Andrews © 2011