ALBUM TITLE: Bethlehem Down
WORKS: Carols by Britten, Hadley, Holst, Rutter, Warlock,
PERFORMER: Philip Langridge (tenor); John Evanson (piano); Finchley Children’s Music Group/Grave Rossiter
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557581
Another choir closely associated with Britten, the Finchley Children’s Music Group (FCMG), have their own Christmas CD, Bethlehem Down, on Naxos. Three Britten items (all unison) feature, ‘The Birds’, ‘Corpus Christi Carol’, and the lusty ‘King Herod and the Cock’. All three are characterised by the choir’s trademark freshness of timbre and clear, natural enunciation. The choice of repertoire is also excellent, consistently eschewing the obvious Yuletide choices in favour of such lesser known gems as Patrick Hadley’s ‘I Sing of a Maiden’ and, of course, Peter Warlock’s ‘Bethlehem Down’. There is also a central sequence of four Holst settings, three featuring solo voices, most notably the moving ‘Jesu, Thou the Virgin-born’, which has four soloists. Grace Rossiter, herself an FCMG alumna, directs alert and sensitive performances, and the CD is sold in aid of the HOPE children’s charity.