This recording heralds the beginning of an exclusive recording contract between Chandos and the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge. All performances will be conducted by Andrew Nethsingha, the Choir’s Director of Music since 2007.
The disc of choral music by Herbert Howells includes two settings of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis: one setting was written for St John’s, where Howells was Acting Organist during World War II; the other for Gloucester Cathedral in the composer’s native county. It also features two premiere recordings, A Grace for 10 Downing Street and Psalm 142.
Andrew Nethsingha said, “We are delighted to be embarking on a partnership with such an excellent label as Chandos. With them, we will release a wide variety of repertoire. We have chosen to start with a disc of Howells’ music – Herbert Howells was closely associated with St John’s College for several decades. Two major works written for the St John’s Choir, including “Sequence for St Michael” will feature on the CD. The recording of “By the waters of Babylon”, a deeply moving psalm setting for baritone, violin, cello and organ will be another highlight of the disc.”
This is St John’s College Choir’s first long-term contract with Chandos. However, it has already made a number of recordings for the label, including Mozart’s Requiem and works by Charpentier and Poulenc (conducted by George Guest) and music by Tallis and Gibbons (conducted by Christopher Robinson).
“If you are at all interested in Howells's church music this disc is an obligatory purchase...Here the emotion of the music feelingly and unapologetically wells upward to the surface, making raw and immediate the spiritual impetus of Howells's writing.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2010 *****
“the new, clear tone [of the boys at St John's College, Cambridge] under its present director, Andrew Nethsingha, certainly has an impressive vibrancy and conviction. Not since David Willcocks's memorable recording of Howells's church music...have I heard such precise intonation” Gramophone Magazine, May 2010