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Britten: Sacred and Profane & other choral works


Hyperion Helios CDH55438 (Originally issued on CDA67140)

This is a wonderful ear opener into Britten's genius and facility in less central reprtoire.

The original relase was highly praied, deservedly so. The new disc at bargain price is highly desirable but was a problem for me to follow on my best equipment; but I persevered. People with poor eyesight and who are not "computer listeners" must be warned that the texts (properly parallel) are in very small print, and listening + following the music (many songs in Olde English) is a trial. Many of the songs are fast and with overlapping lines. For those who are determined and do cope, the rewards are immense.

The Gloriana songs are probably better as here, away from the Opera - even with surtitles they'd be hard to follow in the theatre. Britten's knowledge of English poetry is comprehensive, and here one has a refresher course under the best of tutors.

Sacred & Profane was new to me, to my shame; they are his last professional part songs and are wise and wonderful.

Peter Grahame Woolf

NB If you surf http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/al.asp?al=CDH55438 to hear samples, you can access there the sleeve notes and texts in .pdf, to read and print out at size of your choice ! This is good 2012 marketing. PGW