✓ in stock
05 October 2018
This disc of live recordings features performances by the choir from their four most recent Christmas services from 2014-17.
The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge is one of the finest collegiate choirs in the world, known and loved by millions from its broadcasts, concert tours and recordings. This is the Choir’s 99th album to be released. Founded in the 1670s, the Choir is known for its distinctive rich, warm sound, its expressive interpretations and its breadth of repertoire. Alongside these musical characteristics, the Choir is particularly proud of its happy, relaxed and mutually supportive atmosphere. The Choir is directed by Andrew Nethsingha following a long line of eminent Directors of Music, recently Dr George Guest, Dr Christopher Robinson and Dr David Hill.
Performing as a conductor and organist in North America, South Africa, Far East, and throughout Europe, Andrew Nethsingha has been Director of Music at St John’s College, Cambridge since 2007. His innovations at St John’s have included weekly webcasts and a termly Bach cantata series. His recordings for Chandos have been well reviewed.
Andrew Nethsingha received his early musical training as a chorister at Exeter Cathedral, where his father was organist for over a quarter of a century. He later studied at the Royal College of Music, where he won seven prizes, and at St John’s College, Cambridge. He held Organ Scholarships under Christopher Robinson, at St George’s Windsor, and George Guest, at St John’s, before becoming Assistant Organist at Wells Cathedral. He was subsequently Director of Music at Truro and Gloucester Cathedrals. Other recent positions have included Artistic Director of the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival and Musical Director of the Gloucester Choral Society.
He has served as President of the Cathedral Organists’ Association. He has worked with some of the UK’s leading orchestras. Andrew’s concerts with the Philharmonia Orchestra have included many of the major choral works: Mahler’s 8th Symphony, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Britten War Requiem, Brahms Requiem, Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius and The Kingdom, Walton Belshazzar’s Feast, Poulenc Gloria and Duruflé Requiem. He has also worked with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, Britten Sinfonia, the Aarhus Symfoniorkester and the BBC Concert Orchestra. Recent conducting engagements have included the BBC Proms, Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Tokyo Suntory Hall. He regularly runs choral courses in various countries, including France and the U.S.A.
Benjamin Britten is one most important British composers from the second half of the twentieth century. Remarkably, he focused on opera, a dying genre, at least in its current form. Britten's contributions however, among which Peter Grimes, The Rape of Lucretia, Gloriana, The Turn of the Screw, and Death in Venice, managed to remain core repertoire for opera companies to this day. Many of these productions included a role for his artistic partner and life companion Peter Pears. Britten also wrote a number of lieder for this tenor, among which his Serenade for tenor, horn and string orchestra. Yet, Britten excelled in many more genres. He wasn't even 20 years old when he composed his brilliant Phantasy for hobo quartet and his friendship with the legendary cellist Rostropovich led to a Cello sonata, three Suites for cello solo and a Symphony for Cello and orchestra in the 1960s.
Britten never became Master of the Queen's Music, yet he surely had feeling for public sentiments. For example, as a pacifist, he taught his people about world peace through his War Requiem from 1962. Britten was an excellent interpreter of his own work, just like Bartók and Stravinsky. Many of his recordings have been matched, but never exceeded.
The name Palestrina might remind you of strict, proper counterpoint and boring music lessons. And this image isn't new; even before his death, Palestrina was already portrayed as a legendary master of counterpoint. His body of work commands respect with more than 100 missas, 300 motets and many more other religious works. And all of them written with flawless mastery of the composition techniques of his Franco-Flamish predecessors. Besides the quantity and quality of his work, the council of Trent added to this image. The council wished to reform the music of the catholic church: all excessive and secular elements should be withdrawn and the text had the in the foreground, intelligibly. One story tells that it was Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli which was performed during the council to test the intelligibility. Another myth portrays Palestrina as the saviour of sacred music. In any way, Palestrina was the most central composer in Rome during the 16th century, and his stature lasts to this day. At times, his music is depicted as boring, but if you would give it a listen you will soon find out this is a myth as well!