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Posted July 3, 2013
New College celebrates Britten choral legacy
New College Oxford singers present this collection of Benjamin Britten’s sacred choral compositions in a two-cd set recorded in 2011-12. Three decades of work spanning poetry, praise, wedding celebration, mass, and concerts are performed by treble students and professionals with a long affiliation for this music under the direction of Sir Edward Higginbottom, a legend in his field. The standard expected for Britten’s music and New College is unequivocally maintained throughout.
While Britten’s twentieth-century music may give an impression of dissonance to the new listener, it is unmistakably joyous and uplifting. Once enraptured, the audience returns again and again to glean more intricacy and meaning from this giant of the musical world. Treble voices from the Boy’s Choir create an airy, ethereal vocal line characteristic of New College Oxford. The men’s voices in other ranges increase the richness of the texture throughout. Accompaniment by three organists and harpist Emma Granger leaves the hearer hoping for solo performances by any/ all of them.
Track titles are appropriately listed for ease of following the playlist, a thoughtful and thorough touch to aid the listener, adding to the appreciation of the works. The helpful booklet, written by the director, describes this collection of wide-ranging choral gems. While a fine reference, the text would be more easily read in a larger font.
Teachers, choral directors, fans of choral music, and church leaders will find this album a useful resource for classes, colleges, and choirs to add variety and skill to their study and experience.
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