Following the exemplary first volume The Finzi Singers continue their prestigious Britten recording cycle.
The Finzi Singers are renowned for their interpretation of British twentieth-century choral music and are therefore the perfect exponents of this repertoire. In this album extremely popular works such as A Ceremony of Carols are brought together with lesser-known works including, Sweet was the song the Virgin Sung, Antiphon and A Wedding Anthem.
Completed in 1931, Sweet was the Song was inspired by an anthology of Christmas Carols sets a selection of medieval and early English texts for boy’s choir with harp accompaniment. The unusal choice of harp accompaniment may well have been influenced by his recent commission for a harp concerto. The instrument is treated with characteristic sensitivity to timbre.
Britten’s first canticle setting, Te Deum in C major for choir and organ, was written in July 1934 for the Choir of St Mark’s, London. Three weeks later he wrote a companion setting of Jubilate Deo, in E flat major. Both works build on the choral foundations of Stanford and Irelad as opposed to the more grandiose settings of Howells.
Commissioned to write a piece to mark the centenary of St Mark’s Church, Swindon, the Festival Te Deum is unusual for its use of independent metres in the choir and organ accompaniment.
In 1961 Britten composed a second Jubilate Deo, in C major, at the request of the Duke of Edinburgh as a companion piece to the Te Deum of 1934.
Britten was a great admirer of the sound of the Westminster Cathedral choristers cultivated by their director George Malcolm, and, on learning in 1959 of Malcolm’s forthcoming retirement, rapidly composed the Missa Brevis.
Written in 1956 for the centenary of St Michael’s Tenbury, Antiphon takes its cue from the text by George Herbert "Praised be the God of love/Here above/And here below".
A Wedding Anthem, rarely perfomed because of the occasional nature of Ronald Duncan’ text, was composed for the marriage between the Earl of Harewood and marion Stein in September 1949. It is a beautifully crafted piece for soprano and tenor soloists, choir and organ.