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Cambridge Singers A Cappella

Britten: Hymn to St Cecilia and music by Schumann, Ravel, Debussy and Poulenc

The Cambridge Singers
John Rutter (conductor)

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This album explores the great wealth of music written for unaccompanied choir in England, France and Germany during the Romantic era and into the twentieth century. The pure, distilled beauty of the a cappella medium inspired the composers heard on this album to some of their most poetic and delightful compositions.

Track list

  1. Hymn to St. Cecilia (Britten)
  2. Vier Lieder aus dem Jungbrunnen: Nun stehn die Rosen in Blüte (Brahms)
  3. Vier Lieder aus dem Jungbrunnen: Die Berge sind Spitz (Brahms)
  4. Vier Lieder aus dem Jungbrunnen: Am Wildbach die Weiden (Brahms)
  5. Vier Lieder aus dem Jungbrunnen: Und gehst du über den Kirchhof (Brahms)
  6. Vier Doppelchörige Gesänge: An die Sterne (Schumann)
  7. Vier Doppelchörige Gesänge: Ungewisses Licht (Schumann)
  8. Vier Doppelchörige Gesänge: Zuversicht (Schumann)
  9. Vier Doppelchörige Gesänge: Talismane (Schumann)
  10. Lay a garland (Pearsall)
  11. The splendour falls on castle walls (Delius)
  12. Trois chansons: Nicolette (Ravel)
  13. Trois chansons: Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis (Ravel)
  14. Trois chansons: Ronde (Ravel)
  15. Trois chansons de Charles d'Orléans: Dieu! qu'il la fait bon regarder (Debussy)
  16. Trois chansons de Charles d'Orléans: Quant j'ai ouy le tabourin (Debussy)
  17. Trois chansons de Charles d'Orléans: Yver, vous n'estes qu'un villain (Debussy)
  18. Chansons Françaises: Margoton va t'a l'iau (Poulenc)
  19. Chansons Françaises: La belle se sied au pied de la tour (Poulenc)
  20. Chansons Françaises: Pilons l'orge (Poulenc)
  21. Chansons Françaises: Clic, clac, dansez sabots (Poulenc)
  22. Chansons Françaises: C'est la petit' fill' du prince (Poulenc)
  23. Chansons Françaises: La belle si nous étions (Poulenc)
  24. Chansons Françaises: Ah! mon beau laboureur (Poulenc)
  25. Chansons Françaises: Les tisserands (Poulenc)

“First class singers, thoughtful, intelligently selected repertoire, and unfailing excellent performances” CD Review

“It may seem somewhat strange for the Cambridge Singers to entitle a piece ‘A Cappella’, given that almost all of their music performance is a cappella. However, in this collection, they are performing a repertoire from composers whose usual fare is not a cappella composition. This was performed in one of their regular recording haunts, the Great Hall of University College School, London, in 1992.”

“Some of the best singing here is to be found in Brahms’s four songs from his Op. 44 set. The women’s voices have an innocence and unaffected purity which are absolutely right for these delightful little songs. Indeed everything the Cambridge Singers do is characterized by impressive technical fluency and an unquestionable degree of commitment.” Gramophone

“In a disc titled only A Cappella, the Cambridge Singers, under director John Rutter, have released a collection of important masterpieces, all of them but one, rare to disc.  The set contains important music by Benjamin Britten, Brahms, Schumann, Ravel, Debussy, Poulenc, plus short pieces of Delius and Pearsall.

Britten’s lovely, early Hymn to St Cecilia has several recordings, and Debussy’s Trois chansons de Charles d’Orléans has three.  Unaccountably, I can find no other current version of Ravel’s great Trois Chanson, Brahms Vier Lieder aus dem Jungbrunnen, Schumann’s four doppelchörige Gesänge, Op. 141, or Poulenc’s eight Chansons Françaises.  Even if the performances were less good than they are, this should be high on the acquisition list of all choral enthusiasts – not to mention the general public as well.  All are glorious music.” In Tune

“…sometimes the very personality of a choir provides greater musical insight than anonymous perfection ever can.  Hence my enjoyment of John Rutter’s colourful Cambridge Singers in their new disc of unaccompanied choral music from Britain, Germany and France.  These delightful, young-sounding voices do indeed blend – but in a complimentary way rather than a unified way, with the result that the singers’ individuality of timbre is not sacrificed on the altar of choral purity. The group’s corporate identity is distilled by Rutter himself, who brings all his composer’s insight to bear on matters of tempo, balance and emphasis.  The deceptive subtlety of Britten’s Hymn to St Cecilia, for example, can be a conductor’s minefield: I know of no other recording where the weight of every nuance enhances rather than effaces the delicate fabric of the piece.  And the choice of Caroline Ashton for the key solo (‘O dear which children casual as birds’) is ideal: her ingenuous treble is as affecting here as in her recording of Fauré’s Pie Jesu, again for Rutter.” Choir & Organ

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