RECORDS / Classical: Herbert Howells: Choral Works - The Finzi Singers (Chandos 9021)

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The Independent Culture
Issued for the Howells centenary which falls next month, this disc compares what he was writing at the extremities of his life - as a student before the Great War and an old man in the late 1970s - and it stands in relation to core Howellsiana as book-ends do to books: ancillary but holding everything together. The early works include the Dorian Mode Mass, his first big score, and sound like Tudorbethan Vaughan Williams - edging towards the glamorous anguish of the Howells we know and love in an exquisite Salve Regina. The late works are consolidating. They come coupled with a Mass setting by Bernard Stevens which isn't so interesting but gets a redemptive performance by the Finzi Singers under Paul Spicer: a choir of real accomplishment that goes from strength to strength with every disc it makes. Michael White