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Track(s) taken from CDH55438

Chorale after an old French Carol

First line:
Our fathers whose creative will asked
Autumn 1944; based on the tune Picardy
author of text

Polyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
Recording details: April 2000
Temple Church, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: March 2001
Total duration: 4 minutes 44 seconds

Cover artwork: Sacred and Profane Love (c1515) by Titian (c1488-1576)
Galleria Borghese, Rome / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'The programme is delightful and the choir excellent … this has to be one of the strongest winners of the choral award in recent years' (Gramophone)

'Polyphony's brand of singing, clean as a whistle, rhythmically wonderfully alive, impeccably tuned and voiced, polished yet always fervent, is justly renowned, and on this disc it serves Britten's a capella choral music extremely well' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Musically impeccable, carefully wound and tuned, superbly balanced—a magnificent display of sheer beauty of choral sound' (American Record Guide)

'After hearing their latest CD of choral works by Britten, nothing will dissuade me from the conclusion that Polyphony under Stephen Layton is the best chamber choir in the country' (The Evening Standard)

'A valued possession … highly recommended' (Cathedral Music)

'Polyphony's exceptional energy, technical prowess and expressive flexibility make the most of every word and mood throughout this hour-long programme. This engrossing anthology of words and music comes highly recommended' (The Age, Melbourne)
During his early career, Britten undertook occasional commissions from the BBC in order to supplement his longer-term concert and operatic work. In the autumn of 1944 he contributed music to a radio programme entitled A Poet’s Christmas, broadcast by the Home Service on Christmas Eve and also featuring music by Michael Tippett. Britten’s contribution was his Chorale after an old French Carol, with a text by W H Auden (who had been Britten’s close friend and collaborator in the period from 1936 to 1942). The Chorale’s text was part of an unachieved Christmas Oratorio on which Britten and Auden intended to collaborate. Britten’s setting is based on the hymn tune ‘Picardy’, known in France as ‘Romancero’; it lay unperformed for many years, but was resurrected in 1961 when Imogen Holst conducted its first airing since the original broadcast in 1944.

from notes by Mervyn Cooke © 2001

Durant la première période de sa carrière, Britten accepta les commandes occasionnelles de la BBC afin de supplémenter ses projets à long terme pour l’opéra et le concert. À l’automne 1944, il contribua à une émission radiophonique intitulée A Poet’s Christmas et diffusée par le Home Service la nuit de Noël—Michael Tippett s’était également fendu d’une partition. Quant à Britten, il écrivit son Chorale after an old French Carol sur un texte de W. H. Auden (ce dernier avait été l’ami et le collaborateur intimes de Britten de 1936 à 1942). Le texte du choral faisait partie d’un Oratorio de Noël inachevé auquel Britten et Auden avaient songé collaborer. La musique de Britten s’appuie sur la mélodie de l’hymne «Picardy» connu en France comme «Romancero». Personne ne toucha à cette page pendant de nombreuses années, jusqu’à ce qu’en 1961 Imogen Host la sorte des cartons et en dirige la première audition depuis l’émission originale de 1944.

extrait des notes rédigées par Mervyn Cooke © 2001
Français: Isabelle Battioni

Zu Beginn seiner Laufbahn nahm Britten gelegentlich Aufträge vom BBC-Rundfunk an, um sein längerfristiges Konzert- und Opernschaffen zu ergänzen. Im Herbst 1944 trug er Musik zu einer Radiosendung unter dem Titel A Poet’s Christmas („Dichterweihnacht“) bei, die am Heiligabend vom Sender Home Service ausgestrahlt wurde und auch Musik von Michael Tippett enthielt. Brittens Beitrag war sein Chorale after an old French Carol auf einen Text von W. H. Auden (der von 1936 bis 1942 ein enger Freund und Mitarbeiter Brittens gewesen war). Der Text des Chorals gehörte zu einem nie vollendeten Weihnachtsoratorium, an dem Britten und Auden gemeinsam hatten arbeiten wollen. Brittens Vertonung beruht auf dem Hymnus „Picardy“, der in Frankreich als „Romancero“ bekannt ist; sie blieb lange Zeit unaufgeführt in der Schublade, wurde jedoch 1961 ausgegraben, als Imogen Holst die erste Darbietung seit der ursprünglichen Ausstrahlung von 1944 leitete.

aus dem Begleittext von Mervyn Cooke © 2001
Deutsch: Anne Steeb/Bernd Müller

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