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Britten: Five Canticles CD

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Product details

  • Conductor: None
  • Composer: Benjamin Britten
  • Audio CD (2 Oct. 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B000I8OIFC
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 181,589 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. My beloved is mine Op. 40
2. Abraham and Isaac Op. 51
3. Still falls the Rain Op. 55
4. The Journey of the Magi Op. 86
5. The Death of Saint Narcissus Op. 89
6. Let the dreadful engines (Purcell realizations) Z578
7. In the black dismal dungeon of despair (Purcell realizations) Z190
8. Evening hymn (Purcell realizations) Z193

Product Description

5 Cantiques - Harmonisations d'airs de Purcell (Let the dreadful engines, In the black dismal dungeon of despair, An Evening Hymn) / Michael Chance, contret. - A. Rolfe Johnson, tén. - Alan Opie, bar. - Roger Vignoles, piano

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Durrant on 17 Aug. 2011
Format: Audio CD
In my opinion, the very best recordings made of these works.

Quite simply, buy it now, you'll thank me later!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
a voice teacher and early music fan 1 Jan. 2007
By George Peabody - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
SKILLED COMPOSER; SKILLED SINGERS; MUCH VARIETY ALL MAKE FOR A GREAT LISTENING TREAT!

Benjamin Britten's Canticles were not conceived as a cycle, but were written for special occasions. The word 'canticle' is not used in the liturgical sense, but indicates works of deep religious significance as three of them were written for memorial services.

Canticle #1 'My Beloved is Mine' was written in 1947, and is scored for voice and piano. The text is an expression of divine love, shown thru the metaphor of physical love. All of the canticles are longer and more involved than simple songs, could be described as miniature cantatas.

Canticle #2 'Abraham and Isaac'was written for the English Opera Group's concerts in early 1952. This 2nd canticle could be called a miniature opera, such is the dramatic effect of the story. It was first performed by Kathleen Ferrier (alto-Isaac), Peter Pears (tenor-Abraham) and Britten, himself, on piano. The voice of God was depicted by the tenor and alto singing together one octave apart. The story, of course, is from the Book of Genesis (Ch. 52) in the Bible.

Canticle #3 'Still Falls the Rain' was written in 1955, and is scored for tenor, horn and piano; and for his text he turned to Edith Sitwell's poem 'The Canticle of the Rose'.

Canticle #4 'The Journey of the Magi' was not composed until 1971, for which Britten chose the poem of the same name by T.S. Eliot. It is scored for countertenor, tenor and baritone, again with piano accompaniment.

Canticle #5 'The Death of Narcissus' was written in 1974, again he chose a poem by T. S. Eliot of the same name. Britten died the following year, and at the time of his writing of the last canticle, he was in the hospital recovering from heart surgery, so just as this Canticle dealt with death,so did his final opera :Death in Venice.

All three singers on this disc are outstanding in every way. I was particularly impressed with the precise diction and emotional investment on their part. Combine this with the skillful accompaniment of Roger Vignoles, that adds so much to ther drama; he is so astute at picking up every nuance of the singer as well as the music. The genius of Britten is herein displayed.

The disc concludes with 3 very appealing Purcell songs;"Let the Dreadful Engines Roar" sung by baritone Alan Opie- "In the black dismal dungeon of despair' sung by tenor Anthony Rolfe Johnson and MY FAVORITE RENDITION of the song 'An Evening Hymn' by Michael Chance (countertenor).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
More Examples of the Genius of Benjamin Britten 19 Jan. 2006
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
While gratefully the operas of Britten (Billy Budd, Peter Grimes, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Death in Venice, The Turn of the Screw, Albert Herring, etc) are now part of the standard repertoire, there are still portions of Britten's output that go begging for performances. Not only are some of the major orchestral pieces neglected, but also the more intimate works for chamber ensemble are scarcely known or performed. Were it not for the Aldeburgh Festival many of these would have disappeared, as sadly they have from the recorded repertoire. Among these are the deeply moving Church Parables (Burning Fiery Furnace, Prodigal Son, etc) and these Canticles here recorded. That Benjamin Britten remains the finest composer of the English language is indisputable and more is the pity that these deeply felt works are missing from public performance.

This superlative recording helps the cause immensely. Here The Five Canticles (grouped only for historic purposes as they were not conceived as a cycle) are exquisitely brought to life by Anthony Rolfe Johnson, countertenor Michael Chance, baritone Alan Opie, pianist Roger Vignoles, harpist Sioned Williams and hornist Michael Thompson. These works are deeply religious and yet sensuous in both poetry and musical line, very much in keeping with all of Britten's works. 'My Beloved is Mine' relates the poet to God in a sensual manner; 'Abraham and Isaac' distills the ultimate sacrifice in a conversation among God, Abraham and his son at the moment of trial; 'Still Falls the Rain' is set to an Edith Sitwell poem which in turn Britten set to music in the throes of grief for a pianist who committed suicide; 'The Journey of the Magi' is Britten's setting of TS Eliot's poem; 'The Death of St. Narcissus' is especially poignant as it was written while Britten was in his last year's of heart failure. The final works on this CD are three works by Henry Purcell realised by Britten (Purcell had only written the vocal line above a figured bass!).

This is one of those albums requiring a search but the search is more than worth the effort. An amazingly well-performed and recorded recital, this CD is one of the finest examples of Britten's genius. Highly Recommended. January 06
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
a voice teacher and early music fan 3 Jan. 2006
By George Peabody - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
'ABRAHAM AND ISAAC' THE CROWNING GLORY ON THIS DISC.

Benjamin Britten's five canticles were not conceived as a cycle, but were written at various times for certain special occasions. The word 'canticle' is not used in the liturgical sense, but indicates works of deep religious significance as 3 of them were written for memorial services.
Canticle no 1:'My Beloved is Mine'was written in 1947 and is scored for high voice and piano. The text is an expression of divine love, shown through the metaphor of physical love. All of the canticles are longer and more involved than simple songs,and could be described an miniature cantatas.

Cantata no 2:'Abraham and Isaac'was written for the English Opera Group's Concerts in early 1952 and was first performed by Kathleen Ferrier, Peter Pears and the composer in Nottingham, January 1952. This second canticle could be called a miniature opera, such is the dramatic effect of the story. The story is in the Book of Genesis, Chapter 22 in the bible. It is scored for alto (Isaac), tenor (Abraham );for the voice of God Britten used both voices one octave apart.

Canticle no 3:'Still Falls the Rain' was written in 1955,and is scored for tenor, horn and piano; and for this text he turned to Edith Sitwell's poem 'The Canticle of the Rose'.

Canticle no 4:'The Journey of the Magi" was not composed until 1971, for which Britten chose the poem of the same title by T.S. Eliot. It is scored for countertenor,tenor, and baritone, again with piano accompaniment.

Canticle no 5:'The death of Narcissus' was written in 1974, again choosing a poem of the same name by T.S.Eliot. Britten died the following year, and at the time of the writing of his last Canticle, he was in the hospital recovering from heart surgery, so just as this canticle dealt with death, so did his final opera :"Death in Venice"

All 3 singers are outstanding in every way. I was particularly impressed with the excellent diction throughout all of the songs. This is particularly important because these are all stories and told to the intricate rhythms that Britten has employed one could not possibly get much enjoyment without word understanding. I must also mention the skillful accompanying of Roger Vignoles which adds so much to the drama; he's so great at picking up every nuance of the singer and song. Don't pass this CD up if you like Britten's music. It's marvelous!!!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great recordings of these beautiful works. 7 Jan. 2012
By Rich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These five small works by Britten spanning several decades are all together here in a marvelous CD. Listen to them as a set or individually and you'll enoy them very much.
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