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A Festival of Britten, a 2CD set from the national Youth Choirs of Great Britain. The enthusiasm, energy and technical skill of their music-making shines out in everything they do here, and under Parry’s overall artistic direction, he and his colleagues obtain the very best from these young performers. While it’s good to have one or two of the byways of the Britten repertoire (for example, Fancie, a Shakespeare setting from 1962, or the Hymn of St Columba from the following year), one is naturally drawn to the more familiar choral works, against which these performers face stiff competition. generally, they more than hold their own, though as one might expect on occasion they are perhaps missing that final ounce of polish. A Ceremony of Carols is here sung by girls’ voices – it was originally written for women, though Britten certainly intended it for boys – but as with everything else on these CDs, it’s given with total conviction. a lovely celebration of Britten and our National Youth Choirs.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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