Customer Review

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Successor to a Much Earlier Britten/Pears Recording, 13 July 2004
This review is from: Britten - St Nicolas; Christ Nativity; Psalm 150 (Audio CD)
I have particular interest in the main piece on this CD, Britten's 'St. Nicolas' cantata, because a choir I sing in will be doing it later this year with our local professional chamber orchestra; interestingly, a previous performance of it by this group was so successful that a repeat has been requested. Britten, of course, wrote the work for amateur chorus and a professional tenor soloist, in this case his long-time lover, Peter Pears. Enough time has now passed that, although Pears/Britten recorded the work, it is appropriate and welcome that new forces give it a go. Philip Langridge, the tenor here, is actually a better-sounding singer than Pears, although no one would ever question Pears's musicianship. And I say that even as I am one of those who long since have found Pear's idiosyncratic voice to be more than acceptable. This performance was issued earlier (mid-1990s, I think) on the now-defunct Collins Classics label. Naxos apparently has obtained license to re-release a number of Collins Classics recordings of Britten's music; I've raved about earlier releases of 'Albert Herring' and 'The Turn of the Screw.' Steuart Bedford, the conductor on all these releases, is certainly the reigning Britten conductor, having succeeded Britten at the helm of the Aldeburgh Festival.
'St. Nicolas' tells the story of an early church saint, Nicolas, the 4th-century Bishop of Myra, not 'jolly Saint Nick' but another fellow entirely. Not much is known about him so librettist Eric Crozier had leeway to invent much, drawing on the legends surrounding him. Among the interesting episodes is the charming (and weirdly grisly) story of 'Nicolas and the Pickled Boys.' Most moving is the penultimate episode, 'His Piety and Marvellous Works.' Most immediately appealing is the jaunty 'Birth of Nicolas.' Britten asked the congregation to join in at two points when the choir is singing straightforward arrangements of the hymns, 'All people that on earth do dwell' (the 'Old 100th' doxology tune) and, at the end, 'God moves in a mysterious way.' The choir is the magnificent Tallis Scholars, accompanied by the English Chamber Orchestra under Bedford. This is a fervent, lively, moving performance, marked by sometimes catchy, sometimes solemn and always expertly crafted choral/orchestral mix. There is little choose between it and Britten's earlier recording (except Naxos's exceptional price).
The other two works are a very early work, the a cappella 'Christ's Nativity' (from 1931, when Britten was still at the Royal Conservatory) and 'Psalm 150,' an occasional piece written for Britten's old school, Lowestoft. The former is performed by the BBC Singers. The latter is a joyful work and fun to hear throughout it's four-minute length. It is sung by the New London Children's Choir accompanied by the London Schools Symphony Orchestra.
TT=66:00
Scott Morrison
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

Reviewer

J Scott Morrison
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Middlebury VT, USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 338