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Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten

Born: 1913 Died: 1976

The renowned English composer, who was also a gifted conductor and pianist, Benjamin (Edward) Britten, studied with Frank Bridge as a boy and in 1930 entered the RCM. In 1934 he heard Wozzeck and planned to study with Alban Berg, but opposition at home stopped him. The next year he began working for the GPO Film Unit, where one of his collaborators was Auden: together they worked on concert works as well, Auden's social criticism being matched by a sharply satirical and virtuoso musical style (orchestral song cycle Our Hunting Fathers 1936). Igor Stravinsky and Gustav Mahler were important influences, but Britten's effortless technique gave his early music a high personal definition, notably shown in orchestral works (Bridge Variations for strings, 1937; Piano Concerto, 1938; Violin Concerto, 1939) and songs (Les illuminations, setting Rimbaud for high voice and strings, 1939).

In 1939 Benjamin Britten left England for the USA, with his lifelong companion Peter Pears; there he wrote his first opera, to Auden's libretto (Paul Bunyan, 1941). In 1942 he returned and, partly stimulated by Purcell, began to concentrate on settings of English verse (anthem Rejoice in the Lamb and Serenade for tenor, horn and strings, both 1943). His String Quartet no.2 (1945), with its huge concluding chaconne, also came out of his Purcellian interests, but the major work of this period was Peter Grimes (1945), which signalled a new beginning in English opera. Its central character, the first of many roles written for Pears, struck a new operatic tone: a social outcast, he is fiercely proud and independent, but also deeply insecure, providing opportunities for a lyrical flow that would be free but is not. Britten's gift for characterization was also displayed in the wide range of sharply defined subsidiary roles and in the orchestra's sea music.

However, Benjamin Britten's next operas were all written for comparatively small resources (The Rape of Lucretia, 1946; Albert Herring, 1947; a version of The Beggar's Opera 1948; The Little Sweep, 1949), for the company that became established as the English Opera Group. At the same time he began writing music for the Aldeburgh Festival, which he and Pears founded in 1948 in the Suffolk town where they had settled (cantata St. Nicolas, 1948; Lachrymae for viola and piano, 1949). And in this prolific period he also composed large concert works (The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, 1946; Spring Symphony with soloists and choir, 1949) and songs.

The pattern of his output was thus set, though not the style, for the operas show an outward urge to ever new subjects: village comedy in Albert Herring, psychological conflict in Billy Budd (1951), historical reconstruction in Gloriana (1953), a tale of ghostly possession in The Turn of the Screw (1954), nocturnal magic in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1960), a struggle between family history and individual responsibility in Owen Wingrave (1971) and, most centrally, obsession with a doomed ideal in Death in Venice (1973), the last three works being intermediate in scale between the chamber format of Herring and The Screw, and the symphonic fullness of Budd and Gloriana, both written for Covent Garden. But nearly all touch in some way on the themes of the individual and society and the violation of innocence. Simultaneous with a widening range of subject matter was a widening musical style, which came to include 12-note elements (Turn of the Screw) and a heterophony that owed as much to oriental music directly as it did to G. Mahler (cycle of 'church parables', or ritualized small-scale operas: Curlew River, The Burning Fiery Furnace, The Prodigal Son, 1964-1968).

Many of these dramatic works were written for the Aldeburgh Festival, as were many of the instrumental and vocal works Britten produced for favoured performers. For Rostropovich he wrote the Cello Symphony (1963) as well as a sonata and three solo suites; for Pears there was the Hardy cycle Winter Words (1953) among many other songs, and also a central part in the War Requiem (1961). His closing masterpiece, however, was a return to the abstract in the String Quartet No .3 (1975).

Benjamin Britten was appointed a Companion of Honour in 1952, to the Order of Merit in 1965, and was awarded a life peerage in 1976.

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Benjamin Britten : A Time There Was... A Profile : DVD : Benjamin Britten : TPFM1362DVD

Benjamin Britten : A Time There Was... A Profile

Review: This musical documentary profiles British composer/conductor Benjamin Britten. Directed by filmmaker Tony Palmer, who also documented opera legend Maria Callas, it mixes biography with excerpts from such famed operas as Death in Venice and Peter Grimes. A special segment shows archival footage of the maestro working his magic behind the scenes in rehearsal. Interviews include a moment with Leonard Bernstein, who touches on the genius and the pain of "a man at odds with the world." With a running time of 102 minutes, this award-winning video hits all the right notes for the classical aficionado.

Songlist: Leonard Bernstein & Cousin Elsie, Britton as Conductor & Pianist, The Sea & Lowestoft , Early Compositions, Music for Films, Journey To America, Peter Grimes, Aldeburgh, Phaedra and Rape of Lucretia, The Aldeburgh Festival - Beginnings, Writing to Commission, The Sea, Travel, The Maltings Concert Hal, The Public Figure, Death in Venice, An Excellent Patient, Last Visit to Venice, "What Will It Be Like - Death?" , "I Was Lost on an Infinite Sea"

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6709dvd | DVD $19.95 add item to cart


Benjamin Britten : in Rehearsal and Performance : DVD : Benjamin Britten : Benjamin Britten : 089948427797 : VAI4277DVD

Benjamin Britten : in Rehearsal and Performance

Review: The acclaimed composer and conductor Benjamin Britten and the CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra team up with tenor Peter Pears in a rehearsal and performance of Britten's own "Nocturne for Tenor, 7 Obbligato Instruments & Strings, Op. 60." Britten has been called "The Greatest Musician of the Century" by the New York Times. In Benjamin Britten: In Rehearsal and Performance With Peter Pears, the nocturne, based on works by English poets including Shakespeare, Keats, Wordsworth, and Owen is performed. In this collaboration, Britten and Pears give their musical interpretation of a collection of classic poems

Songlist: Below the Thunders of the Upper Deep, Encinctured With a Twine of Leaves, Midnight's Bell Goes Ting, Ting, Ting, But That Night When on My Bed I Lay, She Sleeps on Soft, Last Breaths, What Is More Gentle Than a Wind in Summe, When Most I Wink, Then Do Mine Eyes Best See, On a Poet's Lips I Slept, Below the Thunders of the Upper Deep, Encinctured With a Twine of Leaves, Midnight's Bell Goes Ting, Ting, Tin, But That Night When on My Bed I Lay, She Sleeps on Soft, Last Breaths, What Is More Gentle Than a Wind in Summer, When Most I Wink, Then Do Mine Eyes Best See, Benjamin Britten Interview

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6710dvd | DVD $24.95 add item to cart Choral Performance DVDs


Benjamin Britten : A Ceremony of Carols : SATB : 01 Songbook : Benjamin Britten : 073999088953 : 48008895

Benjamin Britten : A Ceremony of Carols

Review: Written for SATB voices and harp (or piano), this popular christmas choral collection is perfect for your holiday concert.

Songlist: Procession, Wolcom, Yole, There Is No Rose, The Yonge Child, Balulaow, As Dew In Aprille, This Little Babe, Interlude, In Freezing Winter Night, Spring Carol, Deo Grcias, Recession, Spring Carol

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9394b | Songbook $7.95 | SATB add item to cart Choral Christmas Arrangements


Benjamin Britten : A Ceremony of Carols - SSA : SSA. : 01 Songbook : Benjamin Britten : 073999088946 : 48008894

Benjamin Britten : A Ceremony of Carols - SSA

Review: Written for SSA voices and harp (or piano), this popular Christmas choral collection is perfect for your holiday concert.

Songlist: Procession, Wolcom Yole, There Is No Rose, The Yonge Child , Balulalow, As Dew In Aprille, This Little Babe, Interlude, In Freezing Winter Night, Spring Carol, Deo Gracias, Recession, Spring Carol

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9393b | Songbook $7.95 | SSA. add item to cart Christmas Arrangements for Female Voices


Benjamin Britten : Choral Dances from Gloriana : SATB divisi : 01 Songbook : Benjamin Britten : 073999758443 : 48008922

Benjamin Britten : Choral Dances from Gloriana

Review: At the opening of Act 2 of Gloriana, Queen Elizabeth 1 is on a state visit to Norwich. After a formal address of welcome she is entertained by a Masque. To these unaccompanied Choral Dances, dancers representing Time and Concord, country girls and young rustics and fishermen all pay homage and tribute to the Queen

Songlist: Time, Concord, Time and Concord, Country Girls, Rustics and Fishermen, Final Dance of Homage

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9177b | Songbook $12.95 | SATB divisi add item to cart English Choral Arrangements


Benjamin Britten : Christ's Nativity : SATB : 01 Songbook : Benjamin Britten : 9780571515134 : 12-0571515134

Benjamin Britten : Christ's Nativity

Review: A perfect example of the young Britten's masterful vocal writing in a Christmas choral suite destined to become a major repertoire work.

Songlist: Christ's Nativity, Sweet was the Song, Preparations, New Price, New Pomp and Carol of King Cnut.

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7283b | Songbook $6.95 | SATB add item to cart Choral Christmas Arrangements


Benjamin Britten : Five Flower Songs : SATB : 01 Songbook : Benjamin Britten : 073999733334 : 48011505

Benjamin Britten : Five Flower Songs

Review: Both beautiful and inspiring words and music with these delightful songs.

Songlist: To Daffodils, The Succession of the Four Sweet Months, Marsh Flowers, The Evening Primrose, Ballad of Green Broom

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9176b | Songbook $15.95 | SATB add item to cart English Choral Arrangements


Choir of King's College, Cambridge : Britten - Saint Nicolas : 00 2 SACDs : Benjamin Britten : KGS 0003

Choir of King's College, Cambridge : Britten - Saint Nicolas

Review: As part of this year's celebration of the centenary of Benjamin Britten's birth, The Choir of King's College, Cambridge under conductor Stephen Cleobury presents Britten's enchanting choral masterpiece Saint Nicolas, coupled with the Hymn to St. Cecilia and Rejoice in the Lamb. The recording features soloist Andrew Kennedy, a former choral scholar at King's College, the Britten Sinfonia, Sawston Village College Choir and Cambridge University Musical Society. The Choir of King's College, Cambridge is one of the world's foremost choirs and unquestionably among the most widely heard.

Songlist: St Nicolas, Op. 42, Hymn to St. Cecilia, Op. 27, Rejoice in the Lamb, Op. 30

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22154c | 2 SACDs $22.95 add item to cart English Choral CDs


Robert Shaw Chorus : Britten: War Requiem : 00  2 CDs : Robert Shaw : Benjamin Britten : 80157

Robert Shaw Chorus : Britten: War Requiem

Review: Only a conductor of Robert Shaw's experience could hope to shed new light on a score the composer himself had so convincingly presented on record. Shaw finds a meditative gentleness in the music that is new and touching, and imparts a distant, sad feeling to the climaxes that deepens their ambivalence. The solo singing is on a par with that of Britten's recording--the diction is in fact better--and the choral singing is suffused with Shaw's unique magic. Telarc's digital recording is a bona fide sonic spectacular.

Songlist: Requiem Aeternam , Dies Irae , Offertorium , Sanctus , Agnus Dei , Libera Me

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2394c | 2 CDs $15.95 add item to cart


Choir of Clare College : Veni Emmanuel : 00  1 CD : Benjamin Britten : 907579

Choir of Clare College : Veni Emmanuel

Review: The familiar hymn Veni Emmanuel is emblematic of the Advent season - a period of reflection upon the meaning of Christ's coming. Framing this program by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, directed by Graham Ross, the hymn paraphrases the great 'O' Antiphons (plainchant settings traditionally sung on the days leading up to Christmas), complemented here by later works echoing their rich imagery and symbolism.

Songlist: Veni, veni Emmanuel, Vigilate, Antiphon I: O Sapientia, The fear of the Lord, Antiphon II: O Adonai, O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, Antiphon III: O Radix Jesse, Es ist ein Ros entsprungen, Antiphon IV: O Clavis David, Audivi vocem de caelo, Antiphon V: O Oriens, Hymn to the Creator of Light, Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern, Christus: Say, where is He born, There shall a star from Jacob, Antiphon VI: O Rex Gentium, Bethlehem Down, I sing of a maiden, Antiphon VII: O Emmanuel, God Is With Us, Antiphon VIII: O Virgo Virginum, All-Night Vigil, Op.37: VI: Bogoroditse Dyevo, Gloucester Service: Magnificat, O come, O come, Emmanuel

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22155c | 1 CD $18.95 add item to cart English Choral CDs


Choir of King's College, Cambridge : Britten : 00  1 CD : David Willcocks : Benjamin Britten : 62797.2

Choir of King's College, Cambridge : Britten

Review: Captivating from start to finish: EMI has programmed & remastered this bounty of Britten choral work superbly. The Choir of King's College, Cambridge performs with stunning sensitivity, ethereal, heartbreaking & transcendent.

Songlist: Hymn to St. Cecilia Op. 27, A Ceremony Of Carols Op. 28, Missa brevis in D Op. 63, Festival Te Deum Op.32, Rejoice In The Lamb, Te Deum in C (1934), Jubilate Deo

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7973c | 1 CD $12.98 add item to cart English Choral CDs


Corydon Singers : Benjamin Britten : 00  1 CD : Matthew Best : Benjamin Britten : CDH55307

Corydon Singers : Benjamin Britten

Review: In the catalogue of Britten's compositions those involving a chorus, often without instrumental or orchestral accompaniment loom large. They stretch right across his working life, beginning in 1929 and ending in the Op 95 his last completed score finished a few months before his death. The four pieces recorded here belong in the first half of that period, the earliest of them dates from 1933, the latest from 1949, perhaps his most productive period. Mathew Best, as usual, does a wonderful job bringing these works to life.

Songlist: Rejoice In The Lamb, A Wedding Anthem, Festival Te Deum, A Boy Was Born

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8671c | 1 CD $11.95 add item to cart English Choral CDs


Dale Warland Singers : Bernstein & Britten : 00  1 CD : Dale Warland : Benjamin Britten Leonard BernsteinBernstein : 123

Dale Warland Singers : Bernstein & Britten

Review: The forty-voice choir, directed by Dale Warland, are known for their advancement of modern choral literature. This CD bookends works by Bejamin Britten and Leonard Bernstein, with several other composers - Stephen Paulus, Nancy Wertsch and Aharon Harlap among them - contributing. Britten's "Rejoice In The Lamb" (Op.30), is an exercise in contrast, with eerie chromatic dissonances and diminutive solo passages in marked relief to the organ-accompanied, florid crescendos of the chorus. Harlap's "Bat Yiftach" features a distinctive solo French horn motif, rebuked by an agitated chorus; the music from Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms" were actually exerpted from work the celebrated conductor had written for an unproduced Thornton Wilder play! With organ, percussion and harp, the result has several movements and is sung in Hebrew; moments of stark beauty are shattered by portentous discord, only to be relieved by a dreamlike peace.

Songlist: Rejoyce in the Lamb, Antiphon for God the Father, Pilgrims' Hymn, Bat Yiftach (Jephthah's Daughter), Fragments from the Mass, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Agnus Dei , Chichester Psalms

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6406c | 1 CD $15.98 add item to cart


Finzi Singers : Britten: Choral Edition Vol 1 : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : Benjamin Britten : 9511

Finzi Singers : Britten: Choral Edition Vol 1

Review: This is the first volume of the Britten Choral Edition series. The recital opens with four masterful hymns that exhibit Britten's creativity, including the Hymn of St Columba (1962) and the Hymn to the Virgin (1930), which serve as testaments to the skill he possessed at age 16. The recording continues on to the frequently-recorded Rejoice in the Lamb (1943), the delightful Choral Dances from "Gloriana" and concludes with A.M.D.G. The Finzi Singers' Britten Choral Edition cannot escape comparrison to (if not competition with) the three-disc Britten set previously released by The Sixteen. In regard to the two series, as weighed in a review by Gramophone (August, 1998), "there is no clear-cut decision. Balance differs somewhat in the two recordings, The Sixteen having a fuller, more sonorous presence, the Finzis giving more prominence to the organ in accompanied items. Andrew Lumsden's contribution may indeed help to tip the balance further in the Finzis' favour for he is constantly bringing out something in colour or rhythm that adds flavour and distinction."

Songlist: Hymn to St Peter, Op. 56a, A Hymn of St. Columba, A Hymn to the Virgin, Hymn to St Cecilia, Op. 27, Rejoice in the Lamb, Op. 30, Choral Dances from Gloriana, A.M.D.G.

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6876c | 1 CD $15.98 add item to cart English Choral CDs


Finzi Singers : Britten: Choral Edition Vol 2 : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : Benjamin Britten : 9598

Finzi Singers : Britten: Choral Edition Vol 2

Review: The second installment of the Britten Choral Edition opens with the spirited and little-known Jubilate in E flat (1934), and gives great pleasure throughout. The opening of the Te Deum, for instance, is energetic in its precision. The opening of the Sanctus in the Missa brevis similarly bears an extra splendour of tone and movement. Sweet was the Song the Virgin sang (1931 and second term at the RCM) has an uncanny sureness of touch, and "Thou art the King of glory" erupts with color vitality in rhythm. The Missa brevis too gains with each listen, although Gramophone (Augsut, 1998) reminds of us to question of the use of women's voices instead of boys'. "Something is lost, even here, and going back to Britten's own recording of the Ceremony of Carols with the Copenhagen Boys' Choir (odd as they often sound to our ears) one again misses something distinctive on return to the ladies - whether of the Finzi Singers or The Sixteen."

Songlist: Jubilate Deo, Te Deum, Antiphon, Op. 56b, Missa Brevis, Op. 63, A Wedding anthem, Op. 46, Sweet Was the Song the Virgin Sung, A ceremony of carols, Op. 28, Festival Te Deum, Op. 32, Jubilate Deo

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6891c | 1 CD $15.98 add item to cart English Choral CDs


Finzi Singers : Britten: Choral Edition Vol 3 : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : Benjamin Britten : chn 9701

Finzi Singers : Britten: Choral Edition Vol 3

Review: Britain's Finzi Singers, under the direction of Paul Spicer, specialize in twentieth-century British choral music. This CD, the third in a series featuring an all-Britten program, includes one of his earliest works, written while he was at the Royal College of Music and experimenting with serial procedures: "A Boy Was Born." One of his last compositions, "Sacred and Profane," written the year before his death in 1976, is a cyclic setting of verse from the 12th and 14th centuries. Also included are "Five Flower Songs" (1942) and "Advanced Democracy" (1938, reflecting the political unrest in Europe). As is typical of contemporary classical, the sound can be tonally ambigious, stylistically discordant and disturbing, though expertly realized.

Songlist: To Daffodils, The Succession Of The Four Sweet Months, Marsh Flowers, The Evening Primrose, Ballad Of Green Broom, St. Godric's Hymn, I Mon Waxe Wod, Lenten Is Come, The Long Night, Yif Ic Of Luve Can, Carol, Ye That Passen By, A Death, Theme: A Boy Was Born, Variation I: Lullaby, Jesu, Variation II: Herod-, Variation III: Jesu, As Thou Art Our Saviour, Variation IV: The Three Kings, Variation V: In The Bleak Mid-Winter-, Variation VI: (Finale): Noel

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6471c | 1 CD $15.98 add item to cart English Choral CDs


London Children's Choir : Britten: Ceremony of Carols / Friday Afternoons : 00  1 CD : Benjamin Britten : 8.553183

London Children's Choir : Britten: Ceremony of Carols / Friday Afternoons

Review: This album brings together some of Britten's most celebrated music for treble voices, accompanied and unaccompanied, ranging in period from 1929 (when the composer was still in his mid teens and a pupil of Frank Bridge) to 1967. " A triumph of the realist Britten" (Redlich) drawing largely on texts from Walter de la Mare's collection Tom Tiddler's Ground, Friday Afternoons (1933-35), the first of Britten's many works for children, was written for his schoolmaster brother, Robert and the boys of Clive House preparatory school, Prestatyn: choir practice used to take place on Friday afternoons. The twelve settings, with their witty piano accompaniments, belong to an England between two world wars, to an age of innocence, to a childhood time of Meccano sets and Hornby trains, of model boats and Arthur Ransome. These " enchanting fresh songs," Pears says, " a performance of which, given by well-trained boys and girls with their intelligent teacher at the piano, once heard is never forgotten". Their imagination and economy remains extraordinary. All are beautiful. Most are short. The last -Old Abram Brown - aspires to Wunderhorn Mahler (the slow movement of the First symphony). Together with Hymn to Saint Cecilia and Rejoice in the Lamb, A Ceremony of Carols, written "at sea, MS Axel Johnson March 1942" en route from New York to Liverpool via Boston and Halifax, Nova Scotia, helped establish Britten "as a master of English song"

Songlist: Friday Afternoons, Op. 7, Sweet was the Song, King Herod and the Cock, The Oxen, Fancie, The Birds, Three Two-part Songs, A Wealden Trio: Christmas Song of the Women, A Ceremony of Carols

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7539c | 1 CD $15.98 add item to cart Mixed Childrens Choirs


Monnaie Children's Choir : Benjamin Britten - Works for Children Voices : 00  1 CD : Benjamin Britten : 507

Monnaie Children's Choir : Benjamin Britten - Works for Children Voices

Review: The Children's Choir of the Brussels Monnaie Royal Opera House give us here their first CD. It is the fruit of two seasons devoted to Benjamin Britten's works, which culminated in December 2004 with superb performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream. We discover here an attractive selection of works for children voices composed by the British master, in committed performances by very young and refreshing voices (10 to 14 years old). From Beware, composed when Britten was 11, to Golden Vanity, a pocket-opera created in 1967 by the WienersŠngerknaben via the delightful Friday Afternoons, the world of childness according to Britten will seduce the listener by the composer's aptitude at alternating simplicity and complexity, violence and sweetness, smiles and tears in a refined miniature world.

Songlist: Beware, Three Two-Part Songs, Friday Afternoons op.7, The Golden Vanity op.78

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8424c | 1 CD $15.98 add item to cart Mixed Childrens Choirs


Pacific Boychoir : Benjamin Britten : 00  1 CD : Kevin Fox : Benjamin Britten

Pacific Boychoir : Benjamin Britten

Review: The most accomplished choristers of Oakland, California's highly-regarded Pacific Boychoir Academy are the Troubadors, who join with The Pacific Collegium, a professional chamber ensemble that combines exceptional vocalists and instrumentalists, to perform three of Benjamin Britten's favorite Christmas pieces. The dramatic, powerful 12-part "A Ceremony of Carols" was written in the middle of WWII, the simple and fetching "Hymn to the Virgin" has been a Christmas favorite since he wrote it while ill in bed at age 16; and the 7-part "A Boy Was Born," was a student exercise by Britten published in 1934 that deals with the nature of innocence and childhood in the Nativity story. Led by director Kevin Fox, the Troubadors handle this eclectic, often difficult material beautifully, and the Collegium, directed by Christopher Kula, adds strong instrumentals and vocals to the mix. This is a lovely, very different kind of Christmas collection of pieces by a master composer.

Songlist: Procession, Wolcum Yole, There Is No Rose, That Yonge Child, Balulalow, As Dew In Aprile, This Little Babe, Interlude, In Freezing Winter Night, Spring Carol, Deo Gracias, Recession, A Hymn To The Virgin, A Boy Was Born , Lullay Jesu, Herod, Jesu As Thou Art Our Saviour, The Three Kings, In The Bleak Mid-Winter, Noel

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8546c | 1 CD $15.98 add item to cart Boys Choirs CDs


Polyphony : Benjamin Britten : 00  1 CD : Stephen Layton : Benjamin Britten : CDA 67140

Polyphony : Benjamin Britten

Review: Benjamin Britten is one of England's most revered composers of the 20th century. From operas to songs, he knew how to write for the voice. Well known for his works for children's voices, his writing for adult choirs is not as often performed. Polyphony, led by Stephen Layton, sings some of his great choral pieces. "Five Flower Songs," with texts by Herrick, Crabbe and Clare, range from the lush tones of "To Daffodils" to the harsher and stinging tones used to depict the more earthy plants described in "Marsh Flowers." Britten composed "Sacred and Profane" as a virtuoso display piece for Peter Pears' Wilbye Singers. The eight medieval lyrics are combined with difficult but exquisite harmonies to create amazing sounds.

Songlist: Five FLower Songs, A.M.D.G., A Hymn to thye Virgin, Choral Dances from 'Gloriana', Chorale after an Old French Carol, Sacred and Profane Op 91

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7158c | 1 CD $16.98 add item to cart English Choral CDs


Quink Vocal Ensemble : Benjamin Britten : 00  1 CD : Benjamin Britten : 1017

Quink Vocal Ensemble : Benjamin Britten

Review: Acclaimed Dutch singers perform beautifully the unaccompanied choral works of Britten. Since their debut in 1978 the ensemble has finely-crafted its bright, clear, rich a cappella sound, applying it with great success to compositions from Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic and even folk origins. Quink's take on master vocal composer Benjamin Britten is unusual in that they perform works written for choir and unaccompanied chorus, shedding new light on them with the intimacy and clarity of their interpretations. Beginning with "Hymn to St. Cecelia, OP. 27" (1942) and "Five Flower Songs, OP. 47" (1950) and continuing through the eight Medieval lyrics of "Sacred and Profane, OP. 91" (1975, a year before Britten's death), these songs give us a new appreciation of Britten, and of course of Quink, one of the best classical choral quintets in the world! Recommended.

Songlist: Hymn To Cecilia, Five Flower Songs, Sacred And Profane, A Wealden Trio: The Song Of Women - Ford, The Sycamore Tree - Trad., A Shepard's Carol - Auden

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8322c | 1 CD $15.98 add item to cart Dutch Choral Music


Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys : Rejoice In The Lamb - Benjamin Britten : 00  1 CD : Gerre Hancock : Benjamin Britten : 7030

Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys : Rejoice In The Lamb - Benjamin Britten

Review: The 29 men and boys of New York City's renowned Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys present the choral music of British composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976). Included are "Te Deum in C Major," "A Hymn of St. Columba," "Jubilate Deo in C," "Hymn to St. Cecilia, Op 27," "Prelude and Fugue on a Theme of Vittoria," "Hymn to St. Peter" and the 7 movements of "Rejoice in the Lamb, Op. 30." Britten's compositions are brilliant, eclectic and difficult to perform, but they are handled beautifully and seemingly effortlessly by the Choir. There is some organ accompaniment. A fine collection of the works of a British master composer, by one of America's great all-male choirs.

Songlist: Te Deum in C Major, A hymn of St. Columba, Jubilate Deo in C, Hymn to St. Cecilia, Op. 27, Prelude and Fugue on a Theme of Vittoria, Hymn to St. Peter, Rejoice in the Lamb, Op. 30

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7524c | 1 CD $15.98 add item to cart Boys Choirs CDs


Simon Phipps Vokalensemble : Britten - Sacred and Profane : 00  1 CD : Simon Phipps : Benjamin Britten : 006

Simon Phipps Vokalensemble : Britten - Sacred and Profane

Review: In its first CD-release, the Simon Phipps Vocal ensemble performs music written entirely by the greatest English 20:th century composer, Benjamin Britten. This is a tribute to the composer whose music influenced Simon Phipps already at an early age; his father was Britten's agent. Britten's immensely rich and varied choral production is reflected on this CD that spans from beauty to drama. The CD contains some of the composer's most acknowledged compositions like A Hymn to the Virgin, Five Flower Songs and Hymn to Saint Cecilia, as well as the great suit Sacred and Profane with its vibrating vocals and racy medieval lyrics. It also contains the vocally challenging suit Choral Dances from the opera Gloriana. Enjoy Britten's music performed by Simon Phipps' excellent Vocal ensemble on this edition of Benjamin Britten's choral music.

Songlist: St. Godrie's Hymn, I Mon Wax Mod, Lenten Is Come , The Long Night, Yif Ie Of Luve Can, Carol, Ye That Passen By, A Death, A Hymn To The Virgin, To Daffodils, The Succession Of The Four Sweet Months, Marsh Flowers, The Evening Primrose, The Ballad Of Green Broom, Shepard's Carol, Time Concord, Time And Concord, Country girls, Rustics And Fishermen, Final Dance Of Homage, Old Joe Has Gone Fishing, Hymn To St. Cecila

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8535c | 1 CD $15.95 add item to cart Swedish Choral Music


Sixteen : Fen and Meadow : 00  1 CD : Harry Christophers : Benjamin Britten : SCT 709

Sixteen : Fen and Meadow

Review: Most critics consider Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) the most eminent English composer of the twentieth century. His works include masterpieces of choral, operatic, orchestral and chamber music. The works on this album show some of the breadth and range of Britten's choral writing, embracing the masque from his opera Gloriana, his own take on the English part song tradition in Five Flower Songs, and his last work for unaccompanied voices, Sacred and Profane. The latter sets medieval texts described herein as "a mixture of the devotional and the rumbustiously secular". The Sixteen is one of the jewels in the musical crown of Britain, and enjoys a worldwide reputation for clarity and beauty with precision and dramatic intensity. Founded in 1977 by its director, Harry Christophers, its albums have received nearly every major prize of the recording industry including the prestigious Gramophone Award for Early Music. The Sixteen's special reputation for early English polyphony! , masterpieces of the Renaissance, and a diversity of twentieth century music is founded on a naturalness of performance, a revealing clarity and beauty of sound, precision, and a dramatic intensity of delivery. To date, The Sixteen and The Symphony of Harmony and Invention have made over 90 recordings, many award-winning, in a range of work spanning the music of 600 years, rediscovering and performing lost and little-known repertoire.

Songlist: Choral Dances From 'Gloriana', The Masque Begins, First Dance: Time, Second Dance: Concord, Third Dance: Time and Concord, Fourth Dance: Country Girls, Fifth Dance: Rustics and Fishermen, Sixth Dance: Final Dance of Homage, Advance Democracy, Ballad of Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard, A Wedding Anthem, To Daffodils, The Succession of the Four Sweet Months, Marsh Flowers, The Evening Primrose, Ballad of Green Broom, St Godric's Hymn, I mon waxe wod, Lenten is come, The long night, Yif ic of luve can, Carol, Ye that passen by, A death

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5889c | 1 CD $15.95 add item to cart English Choral CDs


Sofia Boys' Choir : Britten & Pergolesi : 00  1 CD : Adriana Blagoeva : Benjamin BrittenPergolesi,  : 153

Sofia Boys' Choir : Britten & Pergolesi

Review: Founded in 1968 for boys ages 7 to 15, about 40 of which appear in concert, Bulgaria's SBC has been directed since 1989 by the talented Adriana Blagoeva. They released their first CD in 1981, "Britten" was recorded in 1993. The group has toured internationally, gaining a worldwide reputation for excellence performing a varied repertoire which includes Renaissance, Baroque, and Contemporary compositions by Bulgarian authors as well as large-scope cantata and oratorio works. This CD includes 5 works by Benjamin Britten (1913-76) and 17 by Giovanni Pergolesi (1710-36)-the Britten pieces have some organ accompaniment and feature two female sopranos, and the Pergolesi ones are orchestrally accompanied and feature a mezzo-soprano. The voices of the boys soar clear and sweet, and the adult soloists are wonderful. Heavenly sacred music, beautifully performed!

Songlist: Missa Brevis in D, Op. 63, Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei , Stabat Mater, Stabat Mater dolorosa , Cujus animam gementem, O quam tristis, Quae moerebat, Quis est homo, Vidit suum dulcem natum, Eja Mater fons amoris, Fac ut ardeat cor meum, Sanctus Mater, istud agas, Fac ut portem Christi mortem, Inflammatus et accensus, Quando corpus morietur

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6932c | 1 CD $15.98 add item to cart

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