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CHAN 10780
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CHAN 10780

Howells: Music for Strings

The Classical Shop
release date: July 2013

Originally recorded in 1992

Artists:

City of London Sinfonia


Richard Hickox



Venue:

St Jude's Church, Central Square, London NW11



Producer:

Ralph Couzens



Engineer:

Richard Lee


Richard Smoker

(Assistant)

Record Label
Chandos Classics

Genre:

Orchestral & Concertos




Total Time - 67:04
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HERBERT HOWELLS

   
 

Concerto (1938)

31:35  
  for String Orchestra  
  Andrew Watkinson violin  
  Edward Roberts violin  
  Stephen Tees viola  
  Shuna Wilson cello  
1 I Allegro, assai vivace 10:26
2 II Quasi lento: teneramente 11:02
3 III Allegro vivo: ritmico e giocoso 10:01
   
4 

Elegy, Op. 15 (1917)

10:38
  for Solo Viola, String Quartet, and String Orchestra  
  Andrew Watkinson violin  
  Edward Roberts violin  
  Matthew Souter viola  
  Shuna Wilson cello  
  Quasi Lento, teneramente  
 

Suite (1942)

20:40  
  for String Orchestra  
  Alison Kelly violin  
  Edward Roberts violin  
  Stephen Tees viola  
  Shuna Wilson cello  
5 I Allegro deciso 6:25
6 II Siciliano elegiaco. Con moto, ma tenerezza 6:12
7 III Alla Menuetto. Allegro moderato 3:55
8 IV Rondo. Allegro assai: brioso 4:02
   
9 

Serenade (1917)

4:23
  from Suite, Op. 16 for String Orchestra  
  Alison Kelly violin  
  Edward Roberts violin  
  Erika Klemperer violin  
  Michael de Saulles violin  
  Allegretto scherzando  


In this re-release Richard Hickox conducts works for strings by Herbert Howells. Performed by the orchestra he founded in 1971, City of London Sinfonia, the music represents just a small part of the often neglected British repertoire to which Hickox showed such extraordinary dedication.
 
Born and bred into the English Cathedral Tradition, Herbert Howells has perhaps become best known for his choral music. The works here, however, demonstrate Howells’s profound love of the string sound. In a BBC talk on music for strings (22 May 1943) Howells said that ‘Strings were born to sing – rightly, passionately, simply or liltingly’. In the sonority of strings – here recorded with ‘plenty of  body and presence’ (Gramophone) – he found the closest instrumental approximation to the sound of voices in which he had been steeped from childhood.
 
Beginning the album is the Concerto for String Orchestra, the most substantial of the four works. It is highly personal, having been sketched shortly after the death of both Sir Edward Elgar and his own only son, Michael Kendrick Howells. The central slow movement, in which Hickox ‘finds an extra pain and subsequent meditative rapture’ (Hi-Fi News), is the elegiac emotional heart of the work and bears the note, ‘In memoriam, E.E. (1934) and M.K.H. (1935)’. Also notable in this work, and throughout the album, is Howells’s deep engagement with the English tradition of string music from Byrd and the Elizabethans to Vaughan Williams and his contemporaries.
 
The remaining works on this release complete a varied portrait of Howells’s writing for strings. The Elegy for solo viola, string quartet, and string orchestra is modelled in lay-out on Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and is another piece ‘in memoriam’, this time of a friend of Howells’s, killed in the war. The final two works are somewhat lighter in tone. The four-movement Suite for String Orchestra was written with the direct and vigorous tune and rhythm of Holst’s St Paul’s Suite in mind. The Serenade for Strings is a short, delightful scherzo-like movement that demonstrates the brilliance of Howells’ string technique.

"...I am glad this was recorded 9in 1992 but it sounds utterly fresh and gorgeous) and glad it was reissued. And since some of it has made me so happy I have to commend it to you."

Donald R Vroon - American Record Guide - November/December 2013


"...Here is an original orchestral voice. Amid other influences the Howells fingerprints are always in evidence.The recorded sound is excellent throughout."
 
Paul Corfield Godfrey - MusicWeb-International.com - 23 August 2013 



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