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Cat. No. CHAN 10771(3) X Price: 14 No. of discs: 3
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CHAN 10771 - Britten: The Choral Edition
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Available From: 20 May 2013
Britten: The Choral Edition
Britten’s substantial choral output ranges from small-scale pieces for boys’ choir to massive works such as the Spring Symphony and War Requiem. This three-album compilation brings together a large selection of early and late unaccompanied choral works, performed by The Finzi Singers under Paul Spicer.
 
Here, among many others, is Rejoice in the Lamb, written in 1943 for Walter Hussey, the vicar of St Matthew’s Church in Northampton, for his congregation’s Jubilee Celebrations. Hussey was interested in forging a closer association between the arts and the Church, an aim that Britten himself shared. The composer chose as his text extracts from Christopher Smart’s Jubilate Agno, a rambling poem of the mid-eighteenth century, composed largely in a mad house. Although there is a delightful sense of madness present here, the religious character of the work is the most striking.
 
A.M.D.G., seven unaccompanied settings of poems by Gerald Manley Hopkins, was among the first works written by Britten after his arrival in the US in 1939. The work’s title is an abbreviation of Ad majorem Dei gloriam (To the greater glory of God), a saying that appears throughout the writings of Ignatius de Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order of which Hopkins was a member. The premiere performance of this work was meant to take place in November 1939, but the outbreak of war caused the concert to be cancelled. The first performance was given by the London Sinfonietta Chorus, several years after the composer’s death, in August 1984.
 
The Finzi Singers and Paul Spicer have recorded a wide variety of British music for Chandos, much of which has not been heard before either in performance or on disc. They have been regarded as major exponents of British twentieth-century choral music.
 
Reviews

"... only exceptionallly creative conductors and singers can distinguish themselves in this choral oeuvre. Without the imaginative shaping of Britten’s endlessly varies colors, moods, textures, techniques, and styles the music is stillborn. That so much of it thrives here in a single volume is a tribute not only to the composer but to Paul Spicer and his singers. Also worthy of praise are the Chandos engineers, who created a sound stage with enough clarity and breadth to let these divergent gestures play out with out becoming diffuse and without falling all over each other. Somebody pushing the buttons, in short, really understood what Britten is about. "The wise musicians", said Duke Ellington, "are those who play what they can master." Boy, did that happen here."
Philip Greenfield - American Record Guide - November 2013

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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