Herbert Howells: Rhapsodie Quintet; Violin Sonata No. 3; Clarinet Sonata; Harp Prelude

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What a lovely disc!

Deeply felt and warmly expressive, superbly played and lucidly recorded, the disc of the chamber music of Herbert Howells (1892-1983) is a model of what a contemporary recording should be. First and most importantly, the music is wonderful and nearly unknown. While his sacred music has some currency among church choirs and there will be occasional recordings of his orchestral music, Howells' chamber music is almost completely neglected. And yet it is some of his most attractive and appealing music. His Rhapsodic Quintet from 1919 is lyrical and mystical. His Clarinet Sonata from 1946 is sweet and strong. His Prelude for Harp from 1915 is austere and luminous. His Sonata in E minor for violin and piano is expansive and ecstatic. And his A Near-Minuet for clarinet and piano from 1946 is tender and hilarious. The performances by the many members of the Mobius chamber ensemble are full of deep sympathy and passionate conviction. The sound of Naxos' recording is a many splendored thing. Irresistible.

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