COMPOSERS: Britten,David Bedford,Holst,Howells,Vaughan Williams
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: English Choral Music
WORKS: Requiem;Three Shakespeare Songs; Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda, Third Group; Five Flower Songs; The Golden Wine is Drunk
PERFORMER: Netherlands Chamber Choir/John Alldis
CATALOGUE NO: GLO 5170
John Alldis has devised a satisfyingly coherent programme for one of Europe’s finest chamber choirs, drawn from the abundance of English choral music written in the first half of this century. This is a disc of light and dark shades. The shafts of light bringing hope into Howells’s Requiem for his nine-year-old son Michael, and the ‘sun rising through the mist’ in Holst’s ‘Hymn to Vena’, contrast with the threatening flora of Crabbe’s coastal Suffolk, where the ‘dull nightshade hangs her deadly fruit’ in Britten’s Flower Songs.
The Netherlands Chamber Choir is well equipped to paint these shades and all those in between, adjusting its tone and dynamics as one, with a subtlety which the recording engineer has captured to perfection. Aside from the booklet notes, which contain an interesting continental view of English choral music, there is nothing about this disc to suggest that it is not being sung by native English speakers. Even the rapid and accurate declamation needed in Britten’s ‘Ballad of Green Broom’ and Vaughan Williams’s ‘Over Hill, Over Dale’ do not faze them. What with fine intonation and near-perfect ensemble, this disc can only enhance the choir’s reputation. Janet Banks