About the composer
The English composer Herbert Howells (1892 – 1983) is regarded as one of the masters of vocal-instrumental polyphony of this century. His Stabat Mater was composed in a time of great personal stress (the death of his son) and political disturbance (Cuba crisis, murder of Kennedy) and his work reflects all this.
Howells not only made an extensive study of his predecessors in composing a Stabat Mater, he also looked into the text and its different versions and translations.
About the Stabat Mater
Tenor, Choir and symphony orchestra
The composition is divided into 7 sections. His use of the poem is very interesting. The last musical section is extended with three stanzas. One of these is the "Vatican"-stanza 19, after which stanza 17 is repeated, but this time with the line "Ob amorem Filii", while he the first time used "Et cruore Filii". The piece is concluded with a repetition of the first stanza, so that in fact 23 stanzas are set to music. The last stanza ends as a death march, which has the effect of killing the hope that normally is expressed by the last stanza (20). All over, the music gives the impression of desolation. It contains some enormous choral eruptions. See the link Listen online and listen to a part of the composition and an introduction of conductor David Hill.
In fact he uses the "Analecta"-version, but with some lines from the "Vatican"-version.
Information about the recording
|CD:||Chandos CHAN 9314: Howells, Stabat Mater|
The CD insert gives some pages from the diary of Howells concerning the writing of the Stabat Mater. Recorded in 1994.
|Orchestra:||London Symphony Orchestra|
|Choir:||London Symphony Choir|
Neil Archer, tenor