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  • Britten: A Ceremony of Carols; Missa Brevis
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Britten: A Ceremony of Carols; Missa Brevis Import


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Audio CD, Import, November 12, 1993
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Britten: A Ceremony of Carols; Missa Brevis + Vaughan Williams: Hodie (A Christmas Cantata)/Fantasia on Christmas Carols
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Product Details

  • Performer: Westminster Cathedral Choir
  • Conductor: David Hill
  • Composer: Benjamin Britten
  • Audio CD (November 12, 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion UK
  • ASIN: B000002ZJC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,775 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. A Ceremony Of Carols, Op.28: Procession
2. A Ceremony Of Carols, Op.28: Wolcum Yole!
3. A Ceremony Of Carols, Op.28: There Is No Rose
4. A Ceremony Of Carols, Op.28: That Yonge Child - Robert Ogden
5. A Ceremony Of Carols, Op.28: Balulalow - Jeremy Unwin
6. A Ceremony Of Carols, Op.28: As Dew In Aprille
7. A Ceremony Of Carols, Op.28: This Little Babe
8. A Ceremony Of Carols, Op.28: Interlude - Sioned Williams
9. A Ceremony Of Carols, Op.28: In Freezing Winter Night - Jeremy Unwin/Francis Shepherd
10. A Ceremony Of Carols, Op.28: Spring Carol - Marc Stevens/Robert Ogden
11. A Ceremony Of Carols, Op.28: Adam Lay I-Bounden
12. A Ceremony Of Carols, Op.28: Recession
13. Missa Brevis in D, Op.63: Kyrie
14. Missa Brevis in D, Op.63: Gloria - Benedict Rogerson/Robert Holmes/Robert Ogden
15. Missa Brevis in D, Op.63: Sanctus And Benedictus - Marc Stevens/Robert Holmes
16. Missa Brevis in D, Op.63: Agnus Dei
17. A Hymn To The Virgin - Francis Shepherd/Robert Jones/Simon Davies
18. A Hymn Of St. Columba (Regis Regum Rectissimi) - Gordon Jones
19. Deus In Adjutorium Meum...
20. Jubilate Deo in E flat

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Of the many accounts of Britten's Ceremony of Carols in the catalog, this one is the best. This was the first work Britten wrote for boys' voices, and with his keen ear and extraordinary imagination, he achieved many wondrous and memorable effects. At the heart of this 1986 performance are the boys of the Westminster Cathedral Choir, obviously a well-trained group. With their outstanding intonation and hearty sound, these London boys outclass all the competition. Their singing is free and expressive, yet very disciplined, even in the triple canon of "This Little Babe," which has a way of bringing all but the most skillful groups to grief. The playing of harpist Sioned Williams is especially accomplished--she delivers a superb realization of the solo interlude based on "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"--and David Hill's direction is right on the mark. The recording, made in Westminster Cathedral, is spacious and extremely appealing, right down to the comings-and-goings of the procession and recession, both of which work beautifully. A fine sampling of Britten's other choral music, including the beautiful Missa Brevis in D, rounds out the disc. --Ted Libbey

Product Description

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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It's one of the under-appreciated wonders of the musical world.
J. Rice
It is a timbre that is artless in the finest sense, and most perfect for the Anglo-Catholic liturgical repertoire.
L. G. Eaglesham
I would certainly recommend it if you are in to this sort of music.
Kim Hale

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Amy Parsons on September 23, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is the best version of the Ceremony of Carols available. It is sung completely by trebles and is accompanied only by harp, which is how it was written. Trebles = boys. I thought it was out of print and I am very happy to see that it is not. The only problem with this version is that it is very quiet, and needs to be turned up to double the usual volume, but it isn't a major problem. In case you're not familiar with this piece, it is a very beautiful set of carols written in old English (even though it was written in the 20th century). The songs are very complex, especially my favorite "This Little Babe" which has 3 sections of the choir singing the same lyrics a beat apart... very difficult, and very exciting. There is also the beautifully dissident "That Yonge Child", and practically everyone's favorite "Balulalow". The harp interlude is also very popular. I highly recommend this CD.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Tuggy on January 2, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I have to agree with other reviewers that this is the best version of "A Ceremony of Carols" available. The piercing purity of the treble solo voice on "Balulalow" brings tears to my eyes nearly every time I listen to it, and the quality of the rest of the album matches that performance.

These are exceedingly well-trained children; I often get a little concerned when a choir approaches "This Little Babe," but this choir tosses off the difficult challenge with an ease that lets me forget the notes and instead be shaken by the poetry of young boys singing a fierce war-cry about the hero Christ-child who, in his naked, infinitely vulnerable infancy, is humanity's shield against all hell.

This is not "pretty" music - yes, it's just boys and a harp - but it's powerful, lulling, agressive, disarming. I can't stop talking about this recording to my friends and family.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By L. G. Eaglesham on May 16, 2009
Format: Audio CD
There is a kind of effortlessness to the singing of the English cathedral choirboy (''at the highest levels of selection and training) ''which tends to produce a wistful, often plaintive sound. It is a timbre that is artless in the finest sense, and most perfect for the Anglo-Catholic liturgical repertoire. I think that even in today''s climate of social uniformity one cannot sensibly deny that there is a natural difference between the 'tendencies' of emotional expression between boys and girls. So the boy treble in the finest Anglican cathedral tradition is generally trained to demonstrate that kind of natural emotional detachment in his singing which, for me, profoundly expresses the ineffable nature of traditional cathedral music (if the expression of the ineffable is not a contradiction in terms).
Having said that, some English boy choirs have cultivated a subtly different style of expression, and the Choir of Westminster Cathedral is one of the foremost models for this. Some musicologists believe it began with George Malcolm, the Cathedral's music director in the 1950s and 60s (''it was for Malcolm and the choir that Britten composed the album's Missa Brevis in D, in 1959). Malcolm taught the boys to sing in a style that is sometimes referred to as the 'Continental' sound. It involves a more physical effort on the part of the young trebles, a full-throated singing; this in contrast to the lighter 'head' voice, traditionally cultivated in Anglican cathedral trebles. David Hill, the music director on this album, is another exponent of the larger continental sound. In recent years, he also directed the famed men and boys' choir of St. John's College Chapel, Cambridge, where this sound continues as a great legacy from the days of the brilliant choirmaster George Guest, who led St.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Riley on January 12, 2008
Format: Audio CD
This collection of holiday choral music by Benjamin Britten and the fantastic choir of the Westminster Cathedral is a real treat. It is a nice change from the more popular holiday choral music. Chorus members will love listening to it and will appreciate the work that goes into creating such beautiful sounds.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Rice on December 8, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Having sung this work for years as a boy and being raised on it from the cradle, this may be my most cherished piece of music ever. Having heard and sung it literally thousands of times, I can still get teary listening to it.

This version is terrific - the clarity of the boy sopranos is excellent. The harp is also wonderful. My only complaint is that the tempo is a little fast for my taste - but I still have never, never found a better version for the quality and tone of the voices.

If this work is not part of your holiday tradition, add it! It's one of the under-appreciated wonders of the musical world. I just can't say enough good things about it - I feel bad for any of you who have never heard it.

If *anyone* knows of other good versions that use boy sopranos without false vibrato, please share!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Ward on January 12, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Wonderful. And to get so many fabulous works by Britten on the same recording is a treat. On the Hodie the tones arre perfect and brilliant. Just wonderful.
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