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This is the late John Scott’s final recording. How poignant, then, that the music on this CD is so full of life, just as Scott was himself before his cruel and unexpected death in August. The main works are Britten’s Ceremony of Carols and Rutter’s Dancing Day, the latter written in 1973 as a companion piece to the former, and scored for exactly the same forces. As one would expect from this stable, Scott directs hugely satisfying readings of both pieces, the boys relishing the challenges of Britten’s astonishing virtuosity and nearly always finding the right kind of ‘tough’, not too prissy tone that Britten so liked. Good solos too, especially the duet in ‘Spring Carol’, and sensitive playing from Sara Cutler, though I would have preferred a little more daring in the tempo of ‘This little babe’. The music of Rutter’s Dancing Day, never less than accomplished, is principally a sequence of nicely shaped and attractive arrangements of which Rutter is an indisputable master. The programme also includes original pieces by Matthew Martin, Patrick Hadley (a gorgeous account of ‘I sing of a maiden’) and William Matthias, plus Philip Ledger’s arrangement of ‘On Christmas Night’ and Scott’s of ‘King Jesus hath a garden’. The CD makes a fitting tribute to this much missed musician and all that he had achieved with his New York forces.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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