Early Music Review
January 2012

I could easily have passed this over, since it is not primarily an 'early music' programme. In fact, 20'40" are devoted to early music, the most substantial being Morley's funeral sentences (without Purcell's substitution). The singing struck me as a bit overstated for their function in an Anglican funeral: Paul writes in the booklet (no page number to quote) 'I am constantly imploring singers not to be frightened of expressing the emotions of the text', but some music (both early and late) needs the decorum of a formal reading of a lesson. Maybe, though, a different quality is needed when the music is removed from the liturgy. I wondered if the style and sound was intended not to contrast with that of the 'modern' music (from Parry to Dove). The raison d'être of the disc is Howells's Requiem and it is impressive as the core of a powerful programme. Going back to the opening Gibbons hymn 'Drop, drop slow tears', it then seemed right. Some discs are built out of contrast: this glories in its breadth of tone, matching the sombre consolation of the words and music. It is certainly impressive!