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Bob Briggs
MusicWeb International, April 2009

This very enjoyable collection of fairly recent music for children’s voices is most welcome, not least because it restores to the catalogue Richard Rodney Bennett’s two small cycles from the 1960s. These works are quite delightful, ranging in style from slow and dreamy to fast and racy. Bennett, perhaps more than any other composer of recent times, has inherited Britten’s easy approachability when it comes to writing for children. He never writes down to his performers, always giving them something to work at and creating memorable tunes and harmonies. Also welcome is this recording of five, of the eleven, songs from Maw’s cycle of nonsense rhymes Calico Pie.

Tavener’s setting of the Lord’s Prayer has a Gorecki–like sheen to it, with an angelic sound in pure simple harmonies…Bob Chilcott’s The lily and the rose is a wonderful setting of The Bailey Berith the Bell Away, with real mystery in the accompaniment and some gorgeous, and very effective, two part writing. It is all moulded together in a verse and chorus, pop song, style, but never resorting to the kind of banality one expects from such composition. This is a real winner.

Britten’s two contributions are well known but, even so, it came as a shock to me to hear May, after many years, and to discover it to be full of fa–la–las and a boisterous piano part!…Woolrich’s No hiding place down there is real fun, full of jokes growing easily from the words and being snuffed out without ceremony. For the beauty of the earth brings a welcome change of pace. It’s typical Rutter and absolutely lovely…Corp’s own contributions are all gratefully conceived for children’s chorus and are very enjoyable. They are all written in a simple and easy-going language which is pleasant on the ear and, no doubt, very enjoyable to sing. The real finds are the two pieces by Howard Skempton, one of this country’s most thoughtful and subtle composers; but don’t expect that from these pieces, they are both a real hoot…Very good recording and notes.

Philip Greenfield
American Record Guide, March 2009

The cute title notwithstanding, this is a serious anthology from Ronald Corp and his New London London Children’s Choir. Howard Skempton’s ‘Pigs Could Fly’ and ‘Alice Is One’ get things started on a zippy, kid-friendly note; but before long the likes of Tavener, Vaughan Williams, Bliss, et al turn the concert into a pretty substantial affair.

Most of the repertoire is first-rate, especially Bob Chilcott’s ‘Lily and the Rose’, the two Britten works, Rutter’s ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’, Richard Rodney Bennett’s clever Insect World, and Maestro Corp’s own contributions, which are crafted most sensitively for young voices. The kids sing well, with commendable technical polish and a genuine emotional connection with the music. Only Tavener’s ‘Our Father’ is a little rough on them.

Notes are included, but you’ll have to go on-line for the texts. You’d probably need to have a strong interest in children’s choirs for this to be of lasting interest to you, but a nice program is a nice program.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2008

The multi-ethnic New London Children’s Choir is one of England’s most remarkable choral groups, its many acclaimed overseas tours forming an important part of the nation’s musical ambassadors.

Beginning afresh each year with a new input, it offers children from seven to eighteen the opportunity to learn to sing and enjoy a vast range of music. It was founded in 1991 by Ronald Corp who continues to be its chief conductor and unstinting advocate, among its many records I particularly recall the charming account of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols made by the choir some many years ago. It is currently in fine form, as this diverse disc of British music amply demonstrates. Ranging from the opening fun piece, Pigs could fly by Howard Skempton, to the challenge of John Tavener’s Notre Père and Nicholas Maw’s Calico Pie. I particularly enjoyed the harmonic beauty of Bliss’s A widow bird sat mourning; Vaughan Williams’s sad Dirge for Fidele; Britten’s Corpus Christi Carol, and with his Shepherds of Hoy a reminder of the wealth of music for children written by Peter Maxwell Davies. Lighter music comes from Ronald Corp, John Rutter, Richard Rodney Bennett and Bob Chilcott. One can marvel at the technical command the youngsters display, but the disc’s primary aim is to please, and it achieves that in abundance. If the recorded sound reminds me of one of those empty school halls I have often worked in, it does bring detailed clarity to the singing.

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