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Andrew Green, January 2009

Naxos's previous release of the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge, performing works by Herbert Howells was widely recognized as an outstanding bargain, and rightly so [8.554659]. This latest offering from the same choir is no less impressive. The singing is alert, committed, rhythmically incisive, characterful (most of all in that minor masterpiece, Rejoice in the Lamb), with excellent blend and unanimity, clear and colorful vowels (if occasionally a shade exaggerated), and tremendous reserves of power for dramatic moments—all blessed with an ideal acoustic and superb support from the (assumed) organist Iain Farrington. The many solo parts are for the most part well covered—especially enjoyable is Benedict Giles considering his cat, Jeffrey, in Rejoice in the Lamb… The menu includes such slightly less-well-known works as the Festival Te Deum and the intriguing men-and-angels Antiphon of 1956. All in all, an impressive reminder that Britten was as committed as Howells to the English church music tradition—a fitting vessel for his passionate belief that his art should be "useful."

Penguin Guide, January 2009

This collection of 11 choral works may omit the much-recorded Ceremony of Carols but as a result it gives wider view of Britten’s achievement in this area, with Barry Holden’s excellent notes relating each work to the composer’s career and personal associations. The biting attack of these young singers is enhanced by refined recording which thrillingly brings out the wide dynamic contrasts. The Prelude and Fugue for organ with its elaborate counterpoint is also brilliantly done. The booklet includes full texts.

David Vernier, June 2000

"Although the marquee works are suitably impressive, it's in the smaller, lesser known compositions that we can really appreciate the choir's skill and the extent of Britten's creative investment in even the shortest, slightest works. Highlights include the Te Deum in C, Jubilate Deo, Hymn to St. Peter, and the Antiphon, with its enchanting final delicate echoes between treble soloists and chorus. The performance of the Missa Brevis-one of the most sublime creations ever for boys voices-is full of energy and enthusiasm?But what a marvelous rendition of the Festival Te Deum! The sound gives us the space and resonance of St. John's chapel while allowing us to hear every detail, with good balance between organ and singers. This disc will make an excellent introduction to Britten's choral music-and will satisfy Britten aficionados who just can't resist adding another top drawer compilation to their collection."

Nicholas Williams
BBC Music Magazine, June 2000

"With Britten comes the thought of high voices: boys' voices that on this Naxos disc belong to the choir of St. John's College, Cambridge... the St. John's singers roundly capture the elusive tonal qualities of Britten's choral music, and the recording has a proper sense of space and locality."

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