If you've been attracted to Benjamin Britten's music by the film Moonrise Kingdom, this album makes an exceptionally good place to start getting to know more of his music: it features two of the composer's best-loved works, both on Christmas themes and both written at a modest level of virtuosity like that of the little oratorio "Noye's Fludde," featured in the film. If you didn't come to the album via that route, it's still a strong presentation of some Britten favorites. "A Ceremony of Carols," written in 1942 as Britten returned to Britain from the U.S., is a brilliantly innocent setting of some old English texts for three-part high chorus, soloists, and harp. Ideally suited for boys' voices, it works equally well, and indeed was originally conceived for a choir of women as it is done here. Even though Britten very soon got on board with the idea of boychoir performance, it's a pleasure to hear it this way. The work is paired with the Christmas cantata "Saint Nicolas, for tenor, chorus, four-hand piano, organ, strings, and percussion." Though a bit more operatic, the work seems akin in spirit to the "Ceremony of Lessons and Carols," and tenor Allan Clayton is a Britten singer in the classic bright mold. You may or may not like Hyperion's rather shiny English cathedral-choir sound as a general rule, but it's made for music like this, and conductor Stephen Layton is the right person for the job in assembling the varied forces needed to perform these works. A fine cornerstone Britten release.