Top positive review
One person found this helpful
on 13 February 2015
This is, for my money, the finest version of a Boy was Born on record. It is the sort of work that really cannot lend itself to a pristine, immaculate sound all the way through (unlike, say, the Parry Songs of Farewell as recorded by Tenebrae). There are moments of danger in the final movement, either in vocal agility or range, or both at the same time, which can hardly ever be sung completely perfectly. The Gabrielis come pretty damn close without compromising on excitement and tension.
The voices deployed here are big (sometimes overwhelming, as at the close), and seemingly limitless in their range. The choir is small, so there really is no place to hide for them, but such is the quality of the choral singing that this only means more clarity in the recording for the avid score reader. McCreesh goes for a highly emotional, immediate response to the words and it pays enormous dividends. Not even Polyphony for Stephen Layton manage quite this level of searing intensity, and in any case, that recording is let down by its slightly distant and washy sound.
The accompanying numbers are all exquisitely sung, although Britten rather outshines Francis Pott and Jonathan Dove - both composers whose work can sometimes veer from the delightfully individual to the somewhat unoriginal. No - here the Britten is the real sell, and marvellous it is too.