on 4 August 2008
This audio CD includes two works by the composer Benjamin Britten, the opera Noye's Fludde and the work for boy's choir The Golden Vanity.
The CD itself comes with an excellent, informative booklet with full librettos of both Noye's Fludde and The Golden Vanity. This is particularly useful in the case of the opera which is in medaeival English (spellings and all - hence the unusual spelling of the title) and uses the original script from the Chester miracle play. Playing time totals 65.5 minutes.
The recording of Noye's Fludde has been remastered from the original 1961 LP record. It includes the following cast:-
Trevor Anthony - the voice of God
Owen Brannigan - Noye
Sheila Rex - Mrs Noye
David Pinto - Sem
Darien Angadi - Ham
Stephen Alexander - Jaffett
Caroline Clack - Mrs Sem
Marie-Therese Pinto - Mrs Ham
Eileen O'Donovan - Mrs Jaffett
Mrs Noye's Gossips are Patricia Garrod, Margaret Hawees, Kathleen Patch and Gillian Saunders.
Further support is offered by members of the English Opera Group Orchestra, a chorus of animals (usually performed by children), an East Suffolk children's orchestra and Norman Del Mar as the Conductor. This performance is from Orford Church in Orford, Suffolk. The whole opera is a musical setting of the Chester Miracle Play Noye's Fludde.
This is a really terrific performance of the Fludde. The singing is top notch and Sheila Rex gives a fine performance as Mrs Noye. The acoustics of the church are ideal for the Voice of God recitals (which are spoken and not sung). I think the most exciting moments in the opera are the two processions, the first of the animals going into the ark and the second one of the animals coming out of it. The three hymns within the opera are intended to be sung by both the full cast of the opera and the congregation - at this time Britten wrote several works which included audience participation of which the Fludde is one. I'd recommend this disc alone for this performance of Noye's Fludde which is tremendously exciting and, with its use of tuned teacups (slung mugs) for special effect, it is a fairly early example of concrete music. Noye's Fludde was written in 1957 and first performed in 1958, so this recording is fairly close to the original performance, also in Orford Church.
The Golden Vanity was written in 1966 for the Wiener Sangerknaben (Vienna Boys Choir) who specifically requested Britten not to include any female roles for them to sing! It's a rather macabre story about the murder of the cabin boy who saves his ship from pirates by sinking the pirates' ship. This performance is sung by the Wandworth School Boys' Choir with Benjamin Britten at the piano and Russell Burgess as the choir director. It's set using the lyrics of an early English ballad by Colin Graham, and the boys in the choir give an excellent rendition of the work.
It is performed by the choir divided into two groups (one for the pirates, one for the Golden Vanity crew) and there are several solo roles:-
Mark Emney - Captain of the Golden Vanity
John Wojciechowski - Bosun of the Golden Vanity
Barnaby Jago - Cabin-boy of the Golden Vanity
Adrian Thompson - Captain of the Turkish Galilee
Terry Lovell - Bosun of the Turkish Galilee
This is an enchanting disc which I can recommend knowing it will give you many hours of listening pleasure. I listened to the LP of Noye's Fludde many times as a child, my main reason for purchasing this CD when I found it was available!
on 13 October 2007
This is one of Britten's most magical scores - not only an inspired blend of amateur musicians (from string players only able to play in first position to reasonably accomplished bugle players) with professional players and singers, but one which embraces all sorts of unconventional forces: from mugs arrayed on a length of string and struck with a wooden spoon to create the 'plink' of rain drops, to the marvellous use of hand bells to represent the appearance of the rainbow. It works because Britten never condescends to any of his musicians, but provides some of his most inspired and inspiring music in this unpretentious drama, which sets the Chester mystery play of how Noah rescued his family and the animal kingdom from the great flood. Perhaps because of the venerable source of the story, Noye's Fludde has aged better than The Little Sweep, also written by Britten for a mix of amateurs and professionals but hobbled by a slightly arch libretto by Eric Crozier (though many amateurs I know have loved performing that work!). A lovely work altogether, spell-bindingly performed by Norman Del Mar and his forces in this treasurable recording.
on 6 February 2013
I had the vinyl version of this recording long ago and loved it. It sounds like, and probably was, a live performance with the minimal instruments and all the voices making a tremendous impact. Noye's Fludde seems to be not very well known; there are very few recordings of it. But listen to this and you will be immediately hooked; Britten at his very best. On the original record there was no Golden Vanity but I did not miss it - not one of my favorite pieces. Incidentally, the cover gives the impression that it is Britten conducting this performance but, unless I am mistaken, I think it was Norman del Mar. As so often happens, Amazon give no information about who the conductor is, either before or after purchase.
on 28 December 2015
I purchased: Noye's Fludde, together with The Burning Fiery Furnace, and Curlew River, Because we ( my wife and I) were inspired by working to appreciate the opera Paul Bunyan. I have little to add to my review above; except to say that this work by Benjamin Britten is not adequately appreciated for its philosophical and musical impact on society as we approach the globaly warmed era.
Max Fordham, 3 Camden Sq., London NW1, 28 Dec 2015