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Alma redemptoris mater

composed to replace a lost part of Howells's Four Anthems to the Blessed Virgin Mary
author of text
Antiphon to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Advent to the Feast of the Purification

In October 2016 I invited David Bednall, who describes Howells’s music as a particularly strong and enduring influence on his own, to compose settings of the other two Marian antiphon texts—Alma redemptoris mater and Ave regina caelorum—which had been included in Howells’s set of Four Anthems for Westminster Cathedral. Bednall conceived his responses not as pastiche but as inhabiting a ‘similar sound world’ to Howells’s settings, while also engaging with features of other and earlier repertoire. Gabriel’s word of salutation to Mary, ‘Ave’, is given special emphasis in Bednall’s Alma redemptoris mater, where it summons an extended passage of polyrhythmic counterpoint between the voices, expanding on the triplet figures heard sporadically in the piece up to this point. Alma redemptoris reuses its opening idea as a ‘ritornello’, one which (as the composer notes) recalls ‘something of the atmosphere of Bax’s Mater ora filium’ and which ‘is intended to summon something of the chill of a cold chapel, and also the sense of mystery of Advent’, the season in which this Marian antiphon is sung.

from notes by Owen Rees © 2018


Howells: The house of the mind & other choral works
Studio Master: SIGCD491Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 13 on SIGCD491 [5'20] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD491 track 13

Recording date
11 January 2017
Recording venue
Church of St Michael and All Angels, Oxford, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Adrian Peacock
Recording engineer
David Hinitt
Hyperion usage
  1. Howells: The house of the mind & other choral works (SIGCD491)
    Disc 1 Track 13
    Release date: June 2018
    Download only
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