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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67576
Recording details: January 2006
St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: October 2006
Total duration: 4 minutes 49 seconds

'David Hill's Advent programme imaginatively mingles antiphons, carols, hymns and motets. Favourites alternate with relative rarities such as Edward Naylor's Vox dicentis: Clama, whose sumptuous sonorities unfold gloriously in the chapel's acoustic … the John's choir, fielding what sounds like a vintage crop of trebles, sings throughout with its trademark mixture of refinement and gutsy energy' (The Daily Telegraph)

'This recording holds some of the most exquisite choral singing I have ever heard. They must be one of the finest choirs in England. Not only is the technical standard dazzlingly high, but the readings are engaging, animated and sensitively shaped' (American Record Guide)

'Blend, balance, intonation and diction are all unfailingly top-drawer, and the choir's unanimity of phrasing and dynamic shading come across as something quite special … both engineering and annotation are well up to the same standard' (Fanfare, USA)

'This is a very fine disc indeed … the overall impression with which I’m left is one of great satisfaction and pleasure. The programme has been assembled with great imagination and the execution is well nigh flawless. When one adds in excellent and very atmospheric sound, first rate notes and texts and translations, it all adds up to a very distinguished package indeed. I shall be surprised if I encounter a finer CD of Christmas music this year' (MusicWeb International)

Bethlehem Down
composer
December 1927
arranger
Warlock's unaccompanied choral setting laid over the accompaniment from Warlock's solo song version of the same piece
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Peter Warlock was the pseudonymn of Philip Heseltine (1894–1930), whose principal legacy was an important body of solo song. Bethlehem Down, with its gentle lilt and tenderness riven with sadness, is a brilliant marriage of music and words. Yet it was created in a mood of flippancy due to the impecunious state of Warlock and his poet friend Bruce Blunt (who were both notorious for their Bohemian behaviour). As Blunt recalled: ‘In December 1927, we were both extremely hard up, and, in the hope of being able to get suitably drunk at Christmas, conceived the idea of collaborating on another carol which should be published in a daily paper. So, walking on a moonlit night between the “Plough” at Bishop’s Sutton and the “Anchor” at Ropley, I thought of the words of “Bethlehem Down”. I sent them off to Philip in London, the carol was completed in a few days and published (words and music) in The Daily Telegraph on Christmas Eve. We had an immortal carouse on the proceeds and decided to call ourselves “Carols Consolidated”.’ In this new arrangement David Hill has combined the accompaniment of the later solo-song version with the original for a cappella voices.

from notes by Andrew Burn © 2006

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