The Gramophone Choice
Noye’s Fludde, Op 59
Owen Brannigan bass Noye Sheila Rex mez Mrs Noye David Pinto treb Sem Darian Angadi treb Ham Stephen Alexander treb Jaffett Trevor Anthony spkr The Voice of God Caroline Clack sop Mrs Sem Maria-Thérèse Pinto sop Mrs Ham Eileen O’Donovan sop Mrs Jaffett Chorus; English Opera Group Orchestra; An East Suffolk Children’s Orchestra / Norman Del Mar
The Golden Vanity, Op 78
Mark Emney treb Captain John Wojciechowski treb Bosun Barnaby Jago treb Cabin-boy Adrian Thompson treb Captain Terry Lovell treb Bosun Benjamin Britten pf Wandsworth School Boys’ Choir / Russell Burgess
Decca London 436 397-2LM (66' · ADD · T) Recorded 1961, 1966. Buy from Amazon
Britten wrote these two works for children, but don’t imagine that they’re cosy and childish. Many of his friends thought that there remained much of the child in him, and this clearly comes out in the boisterous high spirits of some of this music. By and large, Noye’s Fludde and The Golden Vanity are happy works. Noye’s Fludde makes invigorating listening. This 1961 performance is immensely vivid, and the enthusiasm of the young singers and instrumentalists is infectious. All the children of East Suffolk seem to be involved in the enterprise: consorts of recorders, bands of bugles, peals of handbell-ringers, plenty of violins, a few lower strings, seven percussion players, child soloists, and a choir as big as you like, enough to give full representation to the 49 different species of animal mentioned in the text. Then three grown-ups, and the English Chamber Orchestra. The skill and imaginative power with which Britten has used these forces defy adequate description. There are inevitably rough edges in the singing and playing, but the spirit is there in abundance.
The same is true of The Golden Vanity, and although there’s more conscious vocal skill in the singing of the Wandsworth School Boys’ Choir, it never gets in the way of the presentation, which bubbles with life.