Howells: Cello Concerto & An English Mass (Download)


The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
King’s Voices
Britten Sinfonia
Ben Parry assistant conductor
Stephen Cleobury conductor

Guy Johnston cello
Britten Sinfonia
Christopher Seaman conductor

Stephen Cleobury organ

Released 7 June 2019

Available up to 192kHz / 24 bit.

 Available as a cd

“Stephen Cleobury’s valedictory recording with the choir of King’s is suitably spectacular, with the 96kHz/24bit download making the most of the luminous chapel acoustic and the high quality of the performances throughout.

“The choral pieces have both finesse and exuberance; the organ pieces here have real presence and space; and the Cello Concerto is treated to a fine combination of intimacy and passion. Truly demonstration quality from beginning to end – but much too good to save just to show off the hi-fi!”
Gramophone Magazine

“Cleobury and his forces rise splendidly to the occasion”
★★★★★ ClassicalSource

“Superb: this is an ideal Howells starter pack, beautifully produced.”

A double-disc set of orchestral, choral and organ music by one of the most distinguished English composers of the 20th century. Herbert Howells’ An English Mass is presented by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge with the Britten Sinfonia, recorded in the sublime acoustic of King’s College Chapel. Alongside the work is the magnificent orchestrated Te Deum from the Collegium Regale service, and a premiere recording of the Magnificat from the same service, orchestrated by John Rutter. For both these recordings, the Choir and orchestra are joined additionally by the King’s College mixed voice choir, King’s Voices.

Howells’ completed Cello Concerto is performed by former King’s chorister Guy Johnston, one of the UK’s best solo cellists, with the Britten Sinfonia directed by Christopher Seaman. Also recorded in King’s College Chapel, the surround-sound recording presents this glorious, but lesser-known work in a way never before heard, but in an environment perfectly suited to Howells’ music. Stephen Cleobury rounds off the second part of the album with three of Howells’ best-known organ works, performed on the recently-restored Harrison & Harrison organ, also presented here in surround-sound.

Accompanying the album are specially-written essays by two of the foremost experts on the composer. Paul Spicer explores how the thrilling Te Deum came about as the result of a bet between Howells and the Dean of King’s, and the subsequent canticle settings for cathedrals and foundations across the land for which Howells became so well-known. An English Mass, in contrast, is one of Howells’ darkest religious works, with an agonising and troubled presentation of much of the Mass, and Spicer’s essay considers Howells’ state of mind and some of the possible reasons for this. Jonathan Clinch’s essay describes the fascinating journey of completing Howells’ Cello Concerto, giving a remarkable insight into the mind of the composer and the history of the work itself.

Track List
1 Te Deum (Collegium Regale) 8:53 Herbert Howells
AN ENGLISH MASS Herbert Howells
2 I Kyrie 5:42
3 II Credo 8:41
4 III Sursum corda 0:58
5 IV Sanctus 2:50
6 V Benedictus 4:13
7 VI Agnus Dei 3:35
8 VII Gloria 9:09
9 Magnificat (Collegium Regale) 4:57 Herbert Howells (orch. John Rutter)
CELLO CONCERTO Herbert Howells
10 I Fantasia: Tranquillo – Assai andante 17:08
11 II Threnody: Lento calmato – Assai teneramente 9:20 (ed. Christopher Palmer)
12 III Finale: Allego vigoroso 8:33 (ed. Jonathan Clinch)
13 Paen 6:14 Herbert Howells
14 Master Tallis’s Testament 6:44 Herbert Howells
15 Rhapsody No 3 for Organ 6:40 Herbert Howells
Total playing time – 103:37


Howells booklet

Recorded at 192kHz 24-bit PCM in the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, by kind permission of the Provost and Scholars, 12-13 June, 28 November, 2 & 22 December 2018 and 10-11 January 2019.

Producer & Editor Simon Kiln
Engineer Arne Akselberg
Assistant Engineer James Kiln

Mastering Simon Kiln & Simon Gibson

Consultant Claire Long

Label management Benjamin Sheen

With thanks to the Herbert Howells Society for its generous support of this recording.

Thanks also to the following for their generous support of this recording:

The Herbert Howells Trust, The David Laing Foundation, Avenue Nursery and Pre-Preparatory School, Harriet’s Trust, Nicky Thomas Media, The Royal College of Music, Tarisio, Bob and Elisabeth Boas, Gill and David Johnston, David and Louise Kaye, Stuart Lewis, Anna Marra, Richard and Anya Rothwell, Martin and Elise Smith, Stella Villares, and Andrew and Penny Wright.