An English Mass is a concert setting of the ordinary of the Mass in the English translation. Although it concludes with the Gloria as in a Prayerbook Communion service, it was designed for concert use and is dedicated to Harold Darke and the St Michael's Singers. The original scoring was for strings and organ, but a later version with woodwind and timpani is used this evening of this rarely heard work.
Those familiar with the sound of Howells' church music will find the same textures here - long strands of expressive melody supported by rich harmony in thick textures and climaxes of tremendous ecstasy. Like so much of the English choral repertory, the work begins and ends quietly, achieving maximum intensity at various points in between.
Preview the score: