Rhinegold

John Barnett

Benjamin Britten: A Ceremony of Carols

7:05, 22nd December 2020

Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, Tanya Houghton (hp) / Graham Ross (dir)
Harmonia mundi HMM 905329
[74:58]
★★★★

Another recording of A Ceremony of Carols? Yes, but this is a Britten, not a Christmas, anthology, and a rarer assemblage of his liturgical works as well as the carols (including ‘A New Year Carol’, originally composed as the fifth movement of his Friday Afternoons sequence) and three pieces by composers who taught or influenced him: Frank Bridge, John Ireland and Gustav Holst. Graham Ross writes in the notes of his own love for Britten’s works for voice, and he has clearly conveyed that to the young singers of his collegiate choir. They attack each piece with verve and relish; their robust sound makes everything else I have listened to for [Choir & Organ‘s January/February 2021] issue seem slightly tame (sonorous bass lines are particularly impressive). There is some excellent organ playing, too.

CLARE STEVENS

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