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A Festival Of Britten / National Youth Choir Of Great Britain


Release Date: 12/10/2013 
Label:  Delphian   Catalog #: 34133  
Composer:  Benjamin Britten
Performer:  James SherlockVicky Lester
Conductor:  Ben Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Number of Discs: 2 
Length: 1 Hours 52 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

You might think a program combining performances by seven different youth/childrens’ choirs (their members ranging in age from 9-24), recorded in several different venues over a period of months would be marked by at least some unevenness in the performances, especially since most of the music at hand is not at all easy and the singers are amateurs. But you would be wrong: these choirs, which make up the organization known as the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, receive intensive training in singing and musicianship–and obviously expert direction in ensemble performance–and consequently make a very fine impression on this two-disc set containing many of Benjamin Britten’s most celebrated choral works.

There is not
Read more really a weak point across these 17 works, from the obscure minute-long Fancie, for unison voices and piano, to the well-loved A Ceremony of Carols; from the barely-known Three Two-part Songs to the widely-performed Jubilate Deo in C and Hymn to St. Cecilia. The music is very conscientiously assigned among the various choirs, playing to the strengths of each ensemble, giving listeners the chance to enjoy both the bright-toned enthusiasm and authenticity of boys’ voices (Fancie and the Three Two-part Songs) as well as the vibrant female-voice sound of Britten’s original conception for A Ceremony of Carols (ultimately assigned to treble/boys voices by the time of the work’s publication). We also hear the superb mixed-voice ensembles in A Hymn to the Virgin and Rejoice in the Lamb, among other pieces.

The Jubilate Deo in C, a highlight of the disc, is sung as well as on any other recording–and organist James Sherlock is a solid partner, a role he impressively fulfills throughout the program, with a special flair in the formidable accompaniment for Rejoice in the Lamb. The only quibble about the sound could be that the resonant acoustic in one of the three venues, Sage Gateshead, could have been toned down a bit–but that’s a small issue in what ultimately is a very attractive and musically satisfying effort by performers who really know and understand and absolutely seem to enjoy Britten’s music. Strongly recommended.

-- David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Te Deum in C major by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  James Sherlock (Keyboard), Vicky Lester (Harp)
Conductor:  Ben Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; England 
2.
Rejoice in the Lamb, Op. 30 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  James Sherlock (Keyboard), Vicky Lester (Harp)
Conductor:  Ben Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; England 
3.
Jubilate Deo in E flat major by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  James Sherlock (Keyboard), Vicky Lester (Harp)
Conductor:  Ben Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; England 
4.
Jubilate Deo in C major by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  James Sherlock (Keyboard), Vicky Lester (Harp)
Conductor:  Ben Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; England 
5.
Hymn to the Virgin by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  James Sherlock (Keyboard), Vicky Lester (Harp)
Conductor:  Ben Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930/1934; England 
6.
Hymn to St Peter, Op. 56a by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  James Sherlock (Keyboard), Vicky Lester (Harp)
Conductor:  Ben Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; England 
7.
Hymn to St Cecilia, Op. 27 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  James Sherlock (Keyboard), Vicky Lester (Harp)
Conductor:  Ben Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; England 
8.
Hymn of St Columba by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  James Sherlock (Keyboard), Vicky Lester (Harp)
Conductor:  Ben Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1962; England 
9.
Fancie by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  James Sherlock (Keyboard), Vicky Lester (Harp)
Conductor:  Ben Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; England 
10.
Deus in adjutorium meum by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  James Sherlock (Keyboard), Vicky Lester (Harp)
Conductor:  Ben Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; England 
11.
Ballad of Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  James Sherlock (Keyboard), Vicky Lester (Harp)
Conductor:  Ben Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; England 
12.
Antiphon, Op. 56b by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  James Sherlock (Keyboard), Vicky Lester (Harp)
Conductor:  Ben Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; England 
13.
A Ceremony of Carols, Op. 28 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  James Sherlock (Keyboard), Vicky Lester (Harp)
Conductor:  Ben Parry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; England 

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