The world premiere recording of Sir Patrick Spens provides the coupling, a Scottish ballad for huge forces – very large orchestra, choir and baritone soloist. It was written around 1922 when the composer was around 30 years of age
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Herbert Howells: Sir Patrick Spens, Op. 23
Sir Patrick Spens, Op. 23
Herbert Howells: Hymnus Paradisi
II. Requiem aeternam
III. Psalm 23, The Lord is My Shepherd
V. I heard a voice from heaven
VI. Holy is the true Light
“Crippling numbness of loss' was the effect on Herbert Howells of his young son Michael's death from meningitis. The composer eventually confronted his bereavement in Hymnus Paradisi… David Hill… sensitively presents the emotional nerve-ends of Howell's moving work. Notwithstanding explicitly dramatic moments, the pervasive feel of the performance is one of intimate serenity, the 'light and warmth of consolation' which Howells wanted for himself, and for the listener. The coupling is of major interest to Howells specialists - Sir Patrick Spens, a maritime cantata with solo baritone (the excellent Roderick Williams)…”
“Hymnus Paradisi is the composer's most widely acknowledged masterpiece. Choral and orchestral forces are well balanced and precise… Claire Rutter sustains her long phrases and has the right consolatory warmth in her middle range, while tenor James Gilchrist sings with grace and fine diction. Sir Patrick Spens, recorded now for the first time, is strong in its own merits. In this setting of the old Scots ballad Howells is at his most vigorously imaginative; it is difficult to understand the neglect.”
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