Britten has set great poetry here to very interesting and varied music, and what better way to get to know poetry than through a musical setting. This recording still sounds extremely good after all these years and there is nothing much to criticize about the performance, unless, like some, you are allergic to Peter Pears.
The recording was made in Kingsway Hall London almost fifty years ago not long after a BBC radio broadcast with the same forces. At that time I was a member of the boys choir from Emanuel School that took part. For us boys, the astringent cowhorn used in the finale was of great interest, as was the soprano, whose creamy tones interrupted our 'driving boy' a little too often for our tastes. We had a lot of difficulty satisfying Britten with the amount of noise he needed, especially in the finale, when the boys come in at the end with Sumer is icumen in. We also needed to learn to whistle properly. We realised quite soon that Britten would not be easily satisfied, as he made take after take, and then disappeared off the podium to listen to them. (To my everlasting chagrin, I was probably not in the finale at all, as the final take occurred after I had had to seek out a lavatory. I am also sorry to say that after this sparkling debut, my recording career did not continue.)