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Britten: Sacred & Profane / Creed, RIAS Chamber Choir

Britten / Elgar / Williams / Delius / Creed
Release Date: 12/10/2013 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 501734   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Benjamin BrittenSir Edward ElgarRalph Vaughan WilliamsFrederick Delius,   ... 
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


As far as I'm concerned--and among choral music fans I know I'm not alone in this--there can't be too many recordings of the repertoire featured on this program. No matter how many versions of Britten's Sacred and Profane and Hymn to St. Cecilia appear in the catalog (and there are precious few of the former even now), or Vaughan Williams' Shakespeare Songs, or Stanford's sublime motet The Blue Bird, there's always a place for one more in my collection. Of course, these performances vary in quality, but the ones presented here by the RIAS-Kammerchor join the reference standards listed above among the most idiomatic, musically accomplished, technically assured versions on disc. The Britten Op. 91,
Read more subtitled "Eight Medieval Lyrics" and composed just two years before the composer's death in 1976, provides enormous challenges for any choir (one reason we see so few performances), but this Berlin-based, German-speaking ensemble really nails both the music's craggy, gritty harmonies and the profoundly English texts, giving listeners a full-spectrum experience of these colorful, complex settings.

And this is only the beginning of a well-planned and impressively executed program of works that are not only English in text but also in character. And that makes these performances all the more special for their consummate grasp of manner and language. For example, Elgar's There is sweet music and Vaughan Williams' Full Fathom Five and Over hill, over dale demand a warm, lyrical expressive style, gentle yet pointed inflection, and bright, open vowels--and that's exactly what we get from these highly disciplined, world-class singers. In Britten's time-honored and oft-performed Hymn to St. Cecilia we hear stunning unison octaves and soprano singing that would be the envy of any choral group. The unnamed soprano soloist is sensational--and the tenor is no slouch either. As for Stanford's The Blue Bird--one of the marvels of the a cappella choral repertoire--the choir's sound may be a bit heavier than ideal, owing to noticeably darker, more covered, German-influenced vowels (as in the line "The lake lay blue, below the hill"), but as you listen to these glorious romantic harmonies and the soaring soprano line, you don't care because the cumulative effect of Stanford's impressionistic conception is thrillingly, accurately realized. No, it's not the flawless masterpiece rendered by John Rutter's Cambridge Singers, but it's close enough, and as the disc's closing number it's a breathtaking finish to a memorable, intelligently conceived concert, captured in vibrant, full-bodied sound. Without qualification, this is one of the best discs of the year.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Reviewing original release of this recording, Harmonia Mundi 901734
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sacred and Profane, Op. 91 by Benjamin Britten
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974-1975; England 
Date of Recording: 10/2000 
Venue:  Christ Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 15 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Language: English 
2.
Go, Song of mine, Op. 57 by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909; England 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Christ Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Language: English 
3.
Choral Songs (4), Op. 53: no 1, There is sweet music by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907; England 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Christ Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Language: English 
4.
Choral Songs (2), Op. 73: no 1, Love's Tempest by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1914; England 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Christ Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Language: English 
5.
Shakespeare Songs (3) for Chorus: no 1, Full fathom five by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; England 
Date of Recording: 10/2000 
Venue:  Christ Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Language: English 
6.
Shakespeare Songs (3) for Chorus: no 2, Cloud-capp'd towers by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; England 
Date of Recording: 10/2000 
Venue:  Christ Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Language: English 
7.
Shakespeare Songs (3) for Chorus: no 3, Over hill, over dale by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; England 
Date of Recording: 10/2000 
Venue:  Christ Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Language: English 
8.
Hymn to St Cecilia, Op. 27 by Benjamin Britten
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; England 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Christ Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 11 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Language: English 
9.
Aquarelles (2) by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; France 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Christ Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Language: English 
10.
Partsongs (8), Op. 119: no 3, Blue Bird by Charles Villiers Stanford
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1910; England 
Date of Recording: 10/2000 
Venue:  Christ Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 50 Secs. 

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