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NA 7188
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NA 7188

HOWELLS: Rhapsodic Quintet / Violin Sonata No. 3

The Classical Shop
release date: July 2008

Originally recorded in 2008


Michael Ponder

Record Label



Total Time - 66:05
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Rhapsodic Quintet, Op. 31


Clarinet Sonata

2 I. Con moto dolce e con tenerezza 10:57
3 II. Allegro ritmico con brio 10:33

Prelude for Harp


A Near-Minuet


Violin Sonata No. 3 in E minor, Op.38

6 I. Poco allegro, semplice 10:21
7 II. Allegro moderato, assai ritmico 3:32
8 III. Vivace, assai ritmico 10:31

Although Herbert Howells is known chiefly for his large body of church music, arguably the finest by any English composer of the twentieth century, he also wrote major choral, orchestral and chamber works. At the outset of his career Howells came to prominence largely through a series of striking chamber compositions including the Rhapsodic Quintet of 1919, which he described as having ‘a mystic quality’. Dedicated to one of the great violinists of the time, Albert Sammons, the Third Violin Sonata arose directly from Howells’s visit to Canada four years later. The overwhelming impact that the Rocky Mountains made on the composer when he travelled through them by train is reflected in the more dissonant and chromatic harmony compared with his other works of the period.

"Howells’s Rhapsodic Quintet for clarinet and string quartet is one of the most beautiful clarinet works of the 20th century. Robert Plane, the clarinet of the talented group Mobius, plays with a ravishing range of tone and natural warmth, well supported by the string quartet led by Philippe Honore. Plane is also the brilliant soloist in Howells’s even more ambitious Clarinet Sonata of 1946, more angular and percussive than one expects from Howells. Honore is the violinist with the pianist Sophia Rahman in the powerful Violin Sonata 3, written for Albert Sammons in 1923 after a visit by the composer to Canada, inspired by the rugged grandeur of the Rockies. The Prelude for Harp and the Near-Minuet for Clarinet and Piano are attractive make-weights for a superb disc, compelling in every way and vividly recorded." ****

Penguin Guide - January 2009

"...Rewarding repertoire, handsomely served by this talented, multi-national ensemble."
Andrew Achenbach - Gramophone magazine - June 2004

"...The members of mobius, an ensemble new to me, play all these pieces extremely well and with fine feeling. They are recorded in good sound and, as I’ve said, Andrew Burn provides informative notes which introduce very well music that will be unfamiliar to most listeners. This illuminating CD casts fresh light on a composer who was much more than a writer of church music. I enjoyed it very much and I strongly recommend it to fellow enthusiasts for English music."
John Quinn - - January 2005

"They [Howells’ chamber music] are essentially lyrical in tone, though at times showing surprising muscularity, and at others withdrawing into a realm of mystical serenity. All these qualities are evident in the fine Rhapsodic Quintet of 1919, which is well played by Mobius."
Anthony Burton - BBC Music Magazine - June 2004

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