Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Benjamin Britten, Iain Farrington, Simon Wall|
Britten: Rejoice in the Lamb, etc
Naxos's previous release of the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge, performing works by Herbert Howells was widely recognized as an outstanding bargain, and rightly so. This latest offering from the same choir is no les... more »
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Naxos's previous release of the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge, performing works by Herbert Howells was widely recognized as an outstanding bargain, and rightly so. This latest offering from the same choir is no less impressive. The singing is alert, committed, rhythmically incisive, characterful (most of all in that minor masterpiece, Rejoice in the Lamb), with excellent blend and unanimity, clear and colorful vowels (if occasionally a shade exaggerated), and tremendous reserves of power for dramatic moments--all blessed with an ideal acoustic and superb support from the (assumed) organist Iain Farrington. The many solo parts are for the most part well covered--especially enjoyable is Benedict Giles considering his cat, Jeffrey, in Rejoice in the Lamb. Minor quibbles: Perhaps there is marginally less assurance in the a cappella works, such as A Hymn to the Virgin, and some of the rhythmic articulation in the Missa Brevis is a touch affected. The menu includes such slightly less-well-known works as the Festival Te Deum and the intriguing men-and-angels Antiphon of 1956. All in all, an impressive reminder that Britten was as committed as Howells to the English church music tradition--a fitting vessel for his passionate belief that his art should be "useful." --Andrew Green
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"from the hand of the artist inimitable"
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 08/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Benjamin Britten adds to the tradition of English choral music with his inventive genius in these lovely pieces, sung so beautifully by the Choir of St. John's College in Cambridge, which consists of 16 choristers and 14 choral students, led since 1991 by Christopher Robinson, and with Iain Farrington on organ.
The first work, "Rejoice the Lamb" was commissioned in 1943, and uses the 18th century poems of Christopher Smart, who was considered insane in his lifetime. The words have a childlike wonder to them, and praise God's creation in everything from flowers to a mouse, who is "a creature of great personal valour"; my favorite is "I will consider my Cat Jeoffrey", and both text and music in this composition are enchanting."Te Deum", from 1934, was according to the liner notes the first of Britten's works to be published. "Jubilate Deo" is a short piece from 1961, and "Antiphon" (1956), is one of my favorites, a conversation between men and angels. "Hymn to the Virgin" was composed in 1930, when Britten was only seventeen. "Festival Te Deum" ( 1944) is another terrific selection, melodic and powerful.
"Missa Brevis" (1959), has some outstanding vocal work, and perhaps among all these pieces, shows Britten's creativity at its best, and would be my choice if I could only pick one work from this CD. It is followed by "Hymn to St. Peter" (1955), and "A Hymn of Saint Columba" (1962), and Britten's only piece for organ solo, "Prelude and Fugue on a theme of Vittoria" (1946).Fitting for Britten, who was born on St. Cecilia's day, the final piece is "Hymn to St. Cecilia". It was written during the early 40s, using the sad, reflective words of W.H. Auden, which are full of conflict, and the final resolution of "Translated daughter, come down and startle, Composing mortals with immortal fire".
This CD is interesting for admirers of Britten, as it spans over three decades of his choral compositions, and the performance is splendid. Recorded in 1999 in St. John's College Chapel, the sound is excellent, and total time 73'48."
Outstanding singing at bargain price
Russell Jackson | Australia | 11/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is worth paying full price for; it is spirited singing and idiomatic. It is harder to obtain the Howells Requiem and the piece he wrote after President Kennedy's assassination but they are equally beautiful. Naxos have a winner in this choir and they have the entire Englsh choral repertoire ahead of them - hopefully. It is one of those CDs which you keep off the shelf for constant replaying."