Magazine article Gramophone

Howells: Stabat Mater

Magazine article Gramophone

Howells: Stabat Mater

Article excerpt

Howells [G]

Stabat mater (a). Te Deum. Sine nomine (b) (b) Alison Hill sop (ab) Benjamin Hulett ten The Bach Choir; Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / David Hill Naxos [B] 8 573176 (70' * DDD * T/t)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

It is now 20 years since Howells's substantial setting of the Stabat mater was recorded by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky and the LSO on Chandos. A work deeply imbued by the composer's grief at the loss of his son from polio, its first performance dates from 1965, 15 years after the premiere of its other cathartic counterpart, Hymnus Paradisi. Though there is much emotional turbulence in this music, Hill maintains a compelling fife and forward momentum in Howells's immensely contrapuntal score (it being three minutes shorter than Rozhdestvensky's) and this interpretation also benefits from the serendipity of a vocal score with the composer's tempo revisions which Hill chanced upon shortly before the recording was made. The Bach Choir has a palpable vibrancy in its range and layers of dynamics which are complemented by the extensive and highly sensitive palette of Howells's orchestra (beautifully executed here by the Bournemouth SO) and the incisive solo tenor role of Benjamin Hulett. …

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