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Britten: A Ceremony Of Carols (Saint Nicolas)
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2013 sees the centenary of Benjamin Brittens birth and Hyperion starts celebrating early with this disc of two of the composers most popular choral works, both with a Christmas relevance. The cantata Saint Nicolas tells the story of the original Santa Claus, a fourth-century saint whose actsrevitalizing three boys who had been pickled by an unscrupulous landlord being among the more dramaticled to his canonization as patron saint of children and sailors. Brittens lively setting is distinctly operatic, full of incident and colourwith the story brought home through the use of congregational hymns. The part of Nicolas (here sung magnificently by Allan Clayton, already acclaimed as the heir to Peter Pears and Anthony Rolfe Johnson) is one of Brittens great heroic tenor roles. A Ceremony of Carols is a setting for treble voices and harp of some of the medieval texts which Britten loved so much, and is heard every Christmas in cathedrals, churches and concert halls throughout the land. This fresh, sparkling performance completes a thoroughly festive release.
The Performance is a fine one. --IRR, Nov'12
This is a beautiful and deeply affecting recording. --Gramophone, Christmas'12
…a welcome recording of this well-loved work. Performance ***(*) Recording ***(*) --BBC Music Magazine, Jan'13
Top Customer Reviews
The assumption that A Ceremony of Carols was written for boys' voices galvanised when the revised version was premiered by the Morriston Boys' Choir at Wigmore Hall in 1943 (with Britten's own recording with the Copenhagen Boys' Choir coming a decade later). Since then it has been a boys' repertoire staple, with that eerie unbroken sound providing a rich parallel for its medieval poetry. Here, however, Layton returns to a female lineup, as at the original version's premiere in 1942.
Trinity's sopranos and altos (recorded at the college in 2007) have nonetheless adopted an edgy boy-like attack for their performance. Consonants are suitably clipped though, unlike their male counterparts, the effect can be a little on the prim side. There is much superb singing here, however, with every dynamic underlined. Both Zoë Brown's whispered 'That yongë child' and Sally Pryce's harp accompaniment provide more spectral tones, captured superbly by the Hyperion engineers.
No less colourful is Britten's 1948 cantata Saint Nicolas. Chorally, this is superb all round, with Layton's attention to detail reaping rich rewards from an idiomatic score.Read more ›
I've sung St Nicolas in Winchester with David Hill; Stephen Layton's performance is beautifully sung and brings back happy memories.
An absolutely superb CD.
UNFORTUNATELY I am unable to be so complimentaty to Amazon who had offered me a free trial of their prime delivery option. I thought go for it ... only to find that instead of next day (which was a Saturday) the item arrived on the following Tuesday - NOT good enough. Needless to say I have abandoned the prime option ... I am not so desperate for items.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this as the choral society I belong to had chosen this work for our Christmas concert. I loved the recording and it helped with learning the music.Published 19 months ago by bookworm
perfect blend of voices; hauntingly beautiful- a wise choicePublished on 16 July 2014 by Mr N W Purslow
Arrived before expected. Excellent service. The quality of the CD is perfect. Highly recommended.
Both St. Nicholas and the Ceremony of Carols on CD