Requiem Aeternam – The Independent
Formal choral scholars play such a large part in professional music that we forget those who go on to more sensible careers. Where do they end up? Singing for love, not money, in a handful of excellent chamber choirs like The Vasari Singers. The sole fault in this polished disc is that time seems to have stood still, and not just in terms of the repertoire. The clear tone of singers in their late teens and early twenties can sound pinched 10 years later. But it’s not too fanciful to imagine that the life-experiences of older singers will enrich Howells’s Requiem: a work written by a bereaved father. If Howells’s Psalm 23 brings a lump to the throat, its very intimate grief contrasts with the intense drama of Take him, earth, for cherishing, which Howells wrote in memory of John F Kennedy. This is the Vasari Singers’ finest moment, and if Frank Martin’s over-written Mass fails to match this, it’s not the fault of a highly conscientious ensemble.