• Herbert Howells’s Missa Sabrinensis, written for the Worcester Three Choirs festival in 1954 and dedicated to the Severn – a river associated both with the composer, who was born in Gloucestershire, and with the festival’s geographic heartland – nearly didn’t make it. Howells’s bag containing the score was stolen and thrown from a train; luckily it was recovered by the police. The piece has never been as well known as his Hymnus Paradisi, but speaks to the English aesthetic of that time, the orchestral opening almost a homage to Vaughan Williams.
This majestic six-part work for choir and soloists was commissioned by David Willcocks, the renowned choral director who was then organist at Worcester Cathedral. Willcocks also had a long association with the Bach Choir, who are fitting performers, along with the BBC Concert Orchestra, of this challenging, rhapsodic piece in a new recording (Hyperion) conducted by David Hill. The quartet of soloists – Helena Dix, Christine Rice, Benjamin Hulett and Roderick Williams – is well-matched and fearless.
The mass is paired with Michael, a charming choral fanfare written when the composer was having breakfast with his young son (who died in childhood, and was the dedicatee of Hymnus Paradisi), here completed and revised first by Christopher Palmer and then David Hill.
• From Segovia to Julian Bream and John Williams (and a few since, such as Miloš Karadaglić), classical guitarists have had to be super-versatile to make a mark. Repertoire is limited and they have few opportunities to perform in orchestras or as a concerto soloist. The Scottish guitarist Sean Shibe, still in his 20s, a Radio 3 New Generation Artist and winner of countless prizes rarely won by guitarists, has expanded the instrument’s repertoire already, with several new commissions in his short career. But in turning to Bach on his latest album (Delphian) – suites almost certainly written for lute – Shibe reminds us of the sheer intelligence and eloquence of his musicianship. Pliancy, shape, nimble attention to ornaments, clarity in the lines of counterpoint: all make this essential listening. His Wigmore Hall/Radio 3 recital from Wednesday is available on YouTube and BBC Sounds.
• Don’t miss Puccini’s heart-wrenching Il trittico in the Royal Opera House’s free online series #OurHouseToYourHouse. Richard Jones’s stunning 2011 production, one of the best this decade, is conducted by Antonio Pappano and stars Eva-Maria Westbroek and Ermonela Jaho. Until 19 June.