A Festival of Britten

In the thirty years since the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain were born, they have continued to blossom and flourish. New director Ben Parry was quick to notice they share their birthday in 2013 with Britten’s centenary, and the result is this celebratory double album. Over the course of a year the Delphian engineers have followed the various choirs on their courses, and for the first time all seven groups appear on disc – six hundred singers, eight conductors, in three different venues. The vast range of Britten’s choral output encompasses work to match the character of each of the different choirs, from the fresh-faced eagerness of the Training Choirs to the maturity and sophistication of the elite Chamber Choir. The rigorous training all these singers enjoy bears abundant fruit. Their vocal discipline, their energy, their sheer enthusiasm are vividly conveyed in this unique double birthday celebration.

Bonaventure commissioned all of these works and he is a thoroughly convincing advocate. His registrations combine colour with clarity, captured in atmospheric sound, from the joyful splashing of Judith Weir's Ettrick Banks to the intense low throbbing cluster that dominates the end of his own Animus VI.

These are not performances for those who like their Britten to sound like the Choir of King's College Cambridge in the days of David Willcocks. All preciosity has gone; the vowels are open and streetwise; high solos are taken by sopranos, not trebles.

You get the joy of fresh voices cleanly singing a generous cross-section of Britten’s output...[A Ceremony of Carols and Rejoice in the Lamb] are particularly delightful. The pleasures also keep coming in the shorter church settings.

Recording venue(s): Chapel of Tonbridge School (National Youth Choir, Chamber Choir, Girls’ Choirs, Training Choir South); chapel of Oundle School (Training Choir North); Sage Gateshead (Boys’ Choir, Cambiata Voices)
Recording dates: 11 April and 18, 23, 28 & 30 August 2013
Physical format: Jewel case (slimline double)
Number of discs: 2
Number of tracks: 28
Total playing time: 1:52:25
Album ID: DCD34133