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.

"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."

"Each choir has its own conductor but the standard is admirably consistent. For the collector, the main point is not that the choirs are young and amateur so much as the numbers involved...the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain have given a strong reminder of their ambition and quality, if any was needed."

"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."

"The brooding side of the harpsichord is well represented… this is delivery of the highest order, virtuosic, articulate and supple rhythm… A fine achievement and an extremely satisfying release."

"The singing is skilful throughout. Above all, the listener consistently feels the commitment and enthusiasm of these young musicians. Obviously, these recordings remind us what a skilled composer for choirs Britten was...I think Benjamin Britten would have loved this album and that he’d rejoice to know that these young people are being so effectively trained, not just in his music but in the joys of singing."

"The enthusiasm, energy and technical skill of their music-making shines out in everything they do here"

"With unexpectedly thrilling results, the massed voices moving with easy agility."

"All is performed with panache, admirers of Britten's choral music will be delighted and those who are yet to be convinced of his merits as a composer may well find this persuasive."


Producer: Paul Baxter
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
Release date: 28 October 2013
Total playing time: 1:52:25
Album ID: DCD34133

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