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Paul Spicer has long championed music by British composers, especially those not perceived – fairly or unfairly – as in the front rank. Figures such as Vaughan Williams, Walton or Britten need no special pleading, but those such as Dyson (the subject of a splendid recent study by Spicer) or Howells do. Howells’s choral music could have no better a champion than Spicer, whose readings of this selection of mainly short choral works reveal just how responsive Howells was to words, even at an early age. This CD assembles a collection of representative pieces from across Howells’s career: it contains all his Roman Catholic Latin church music for Westminster Cathedral Choir, including the Mass in the Dorian Mode with its neo-renaissance style and fluent vocal lines, some English madrigals (again with Tudor influences) and anthems. All are expertly performed by Spicer’s 24 hand-picked singers: their musicianship, excellent intonation, balance and fresh tone are a constant pleasure in this delightful disc.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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