Coldfall Primary pupils and Crouch End Festival Chorus release Christmas CD

Crouch End Festival Chorus Conductor David Temple

Crouch End Festival Chorus Conductor David Temple - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Glorious rendition of Benjamin Britten’s Saint Nicolas Cantata and A Ceremony of Carols recorded at Alexandra Palace is a perfect gift for the music lover in your life

Crouch End Festival Chorus during a performance of St Nicolas Cantata back in 2015 Picture by Paul

Crouch End Festival Chorus during a performance of St Nicolas Cantata back in 2015 Picture by Paul Robinson - Credit: Archant

Here’s a great hyper local Christmas gift for the music lover in your life.

A new CD of the glorious Crouch End Festival Chorus, with Coldfall Primary School Choir performing Britten’s Saint Nicolas Cantata and A Ceremony of Carols.

Two of Britten’s most popular and accessible pieces, they were recorded before lockdown in the restored Victorian theatre at Alexandra Palace which, as CEFC conductor David Temple says, has a “clear, dynamic and warm” acoustic.

The versatile BBC Symphony Orchestra, tenor Mark le Brocq (the only soloist), several guests and the remarkable voices of the Muswell Hill pupils, have combined to produce a real pick-me-up in what looks set to be a pretty bleak midwinter.


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The understated violins which open the cantata are quiet, almost Halloween-spooky, but over the nine movements, we get an evocative account of the chap who inspired our idea of Father Christmas through his habit of secretly giving gifts.

Britten wrote St Nicolas as a community performance piece and, with its energy and joy, this performance remains faithful to his aspiration

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The Ceremony of Carols was composed in the midst of World War Two. Britten had come across the English Galaxy of Shorter Poems and selected five medieval texts used here: the rest come from other sources but all are traditional.

The opening Procession is breathtakingly beautiful in its plainchant simplicity contrasting with the jaunty Wolecum Yole and the perky harp playing of Sally Pryce.

My favourite is That Yonge Child, the solo provided by the lovely voice of Caroline Milton.

Not only does the CD showcase one of England’s greatest 20th century composers, but it offers a delightful and perhaps appropriately contemplative alternative to the usual blaring Christmas fare. There is so much passion and love in these performances, underpinned by a clear vision of how the works should sound.

4/5 stars.

Released November 6. Preview tracks and download at www.smarturl.it/CeremonyofCarols

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