Finding Finzi & Howells

Review by: David Vernier

finzihowells

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

Gerald Finzi and Herbert Howells may not be the first names offered in a list of most distinguished 20th century English composers, but their stature as musicians is justly celebrated, and their music is as “English” as anything by Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Stanford, Parry, or Britten. This recording, by the “semi-professional” All Saints’ Choir, Beverly Hills celebrates what these composers did best–choral music–presenting several of their most revered and frequently performed works, along with a more rarely heard Finzi piece, Welcome Sweet and Sacred Feast.

Although an ocean and a continent away, this Beverly Hills choir performs English cathedral music as well as any choir you’ll hear from the homeland, performing with a sensitivity and restraint, even in the “big” anthems, that perfectly balances the prayerful, meditative moments with the more exuberant ones in God is Gone Up and Lo, the Full Final Sacrifice. Howells’ beloved Requiem has been successfully recorded many times, but none better than here, which is a tribute to the textural detail and attention to ensemble technique and sectional balance perfected by conductor Dale Adelmann and his singers. This is not “easy” music, but these performers don’t let us know that–they deliver it purely and naturally and affectingly.

There is one imperfect feature of this recording, however: the liner notes, which are very informative and well-written (by Byron Adams), are only available at the Gothic Records website, a practice that, however convenient and economical for the label, is an annoying and unnecessary inconvenience for the listener, especially when, once at the appointed web page, you then have to look hard to locate the appropriate link among the sales information. Why not a simple “click here for liner notes”–or better yet, simply print the (useful) notes within the disc package in place of the two pages of (pretty but useless) pictures?



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Recording Details:

  • FINZI, GERALD:
    God Is Gone Up; Welcome Sweet and Sacred Feast; Lo, the Full Final Sacrifice
  • HOWELLS, HERBERT:
    Requiem; Te Deum (Collegium Regale); Jubilate Deo (Collegium Regale)
  • Craig Phillips (organ)
  • All Saints' Choir Beverly Hills, Dale Adelmann


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