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George Malcolm - Britten : Choral Works

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Britten : Choral Works

George Malcolm - Benjamin Britten

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The first recordings of choral masterpieces by Britten, performed by the dedicatees and newly reissued in a unique compilation.


At Christmas in 1958, Benjamin Britten went to hear the boys of the Westminster Cathedral Choir sing his Ceremony of Carols conducted by George Malcolm. He was so impressed by their voices that he wanted to write something for them. Malcolm suggested a short Mass for boys’ voices. The result is the Missa Brevis, composed, performed and recorded by Decca on the occasion of Malcolm’s retirement as organist and choirmaster in July 1959.
During the previous decade, Malcolm had reformed the choir following a heritage of excellence established by his predecessor, Sir Richard Terry, while expanding the repertory, commissioning modern works from composers such as Britten and moulding the choral sound in the Continental style, learnt from his own Catholic training, which places much more emphasis than the Anglican tradition on chest voice. . He created a natural and throaty Continental sound – the sound boys make in the playground, as he put it – that suited the great Catholic polyphony choir, much emulated by other English choirs in succeeding generations.
Eighteen months earlier, Malcolm had also played the organ for the composer’s own recording of Rejoice in the Lamb, which sets portions of a poem by Christopher Smart extolling the praise of God in terms as touching and quirky as the text. In 1961 he took charge of the first performance at the Royal Festival Hall of the Cantata Academica, another celebratory work written to honour the quincentenary of Basle University, and made this recording for L’Oiseau-Lyre soon afterwards. Here too is a geniality and variety of colour and a wealth of melodic invention, in no way compromised by the use of a twelve-note serial theme.
Side B of the L’Oiseau-Lyre album reinforced Britten’s remarkable skill as a writer for unaccompanied chorus, with the Hymns to the Virgin and to St Cecilia, smaller-scale works but even more perfect in their way, and then the more recent Choral Dances in Elizabethan style from his Coronation opera Gloriana; Britten shared with Stravinsky an ability to recreate the past in terms of the present without any sense of pastiche or loss of individuality. (© Decca Music Group Limited / Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd.)


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Britten : Choral Works

George Malcolm

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Cantata Academica, Op. 62 (Benjamin Britten)

1
1. Bonorum summun omnium; 2. Quae bene beateque
London Symphony Chorus
00:02:57

London Symphony Chorus - London Symphony Orchestra - George Malcolm, Conductor - Benjamin Britten, Composer - Traditional, Original Text Author - Bernhard Wyss, Author - Michael Bremner, Recording Producer - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

2
3. At huius caelestis; 5. Tum vero Aeneas Sylvius virtus
Jennifer Vyvyan
00:03:23

Helen Watts, Contralto - Jennifer Vyvyan, Soprano - Sir Peter Pears, Tenor - Owen Brannigan, Bass - London Symphony Chorus - London Symphony Orchestra - George Malcolm, Conductor - Benjamin Britten, Composer - Bernhard Wyss, Author - Michael Bremner, Recording Producer - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

3
6. Et Gubernacula; 7. Ut Ad Longaeva Tempora
Jennifer Vyvyan
00:03:41

Traditional, Author, Original Text Author - Benjamin Britten, Composer - London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Michael Bremner, Producer, Recording Producer - Helen Watts, Contralto, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist - Jennifer Vyvyan, Soprano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sir Peter Pears, Tenor, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Owen Brannigan, Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - London Symphony Chorus, Choir, MainArtist - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bernhard Wyss, Author

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

4
8. Docendi ac discendi
London Symphony Chorus
00:03:31

Traditional, Author, Original Text Author - Benjamin Britten, Composer - London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Michael Bremner, Producer, Recording Producer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist - London Symphony Chorus, Choir, MainArtist - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bernhard Wyss, Author

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

5
9. Rhenana erga omnes; 10. Ut instissime; 11. O cives..
Jennifer Vyvyan
00:04:33

Traditional, Author, Original Text Author - Benjamin Britten, Composer - London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Michael Bremner, Producer, Recording Producer - Helen Watts, Contralto, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist - Jennifer Vyvyan, Soprano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sir Peter Pears, Tenor, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Owen Brannigan, Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - London Symphony Chorus, Choir, MainArtist - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bernhard Wyss, Author

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

6
12. Nos autem cuncti; 13. Vigeatque academia libera
Jennifer Vyvyan
00:02:48

Traditional, Author, Original Text Author - Benjamin Britten, Composer - London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra, MainArtist - Michael Bremner, Producer, Recording Producer - Helen Watts, Contralto, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist - Jennifer Vyvyan, Soprano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sir Peter Pears, Tenor, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Owen Brannigan, Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - London Symphony Chorus, Choir, MainArtist - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bernhard Wyss, Author

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

Hymn to St. Cecilia, op. 27 (Benjamin Britten)

7
In a Garden Shady
London Symphony Chorus
00:02:49

Benjamin Britten, Composer - Michael Bremner, Producer, Recording Producer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist - London Symphony Chorus, Choir, MainArtist - Wystan Hugh Auden, Author - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

8
I Cannot Grow
London Symphony Chorus
00:01:54

Benjamin Britten, Composer - Michael Bremner, Producer, Recording Producer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist - London Symphony Chorus, Choir, MainArtist - Wystan Hugh Auden, Author - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

9
O Ear Whose Creatures
London Symphony Chorus
00:05:45

Benjamin Britten, Composer - Michael Bremner, Producer, Recording Producer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist - London Symphony Chorus, Choir, MainArtist - Wystan Hugh Auden, Author - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

10
Britten: A Hymn to the Virgin
London Symphony Chorus
00:03:56

Anonymous, Author - Benjamin Britten, Composer - Michael Bremner, Producer, Recording Producer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist - London Symphony Chorus, Choir, MainArtist - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

Choral Dances from "Gloriana" (Benjamin Britten)

11
Time
London Symphony Chorus
00:01:21

Benjamin Britten, Composer - Michael Bremner, Producer, Recording Producer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist - London Symphony Chorus, Choir, MainArtist - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

12
Concord
London Symphony Chorus
00:02:32

Benjamin Britten, Composer - Michael Bremner, Producer, Recording Producer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist - London Symphony Chorus, Choir, MainArtist - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

13
Time and Concord
London Symphony Chorus
00:01:10

Benjamin Britten, Composer - Michael Bremner, Producer, Recording Producer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist - London Symphony Chorus, Choir, MainArtist - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

14
Country Girls
London Symphony Chorus
00:00:58

Benjamin Britten, Composer - Michael Bremner, Producer, Recording Producer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist - London Symphony Chorus, Choir, MainArtist - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

15
Rustics and Fishermen
London Symphony Chorus
00:00:49

Benjamin Britten, Composer - Michael Bremner, Producer, Recording Producer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist - London Symphony Chorus, Choir, MainArtist - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

16
Final Dance of Homage
London Symphony Chorus
00:02:04

Benjamin Britten, Composer - Michael Bremner, Producer, Recording Producer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist - London Symphony Chorus, Choir, MainArtist - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1961 Decca Music Group Limited

Missa Brevis, Op. 63 (Benjamin Britten)

17
Kyrie eleison
Westminster Cathedral Choir
00:02:02

Westminster Cathedral Choir, Choir, MainArtist - Anonymous, Author - Benjamin Britten, Composer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist

℗ 1959 Decca Music Group Limited

18
Gloria in excelsis Deo
Westminster Cathedral Choir
00:02:59

Westminster Cathedral Choir, Choir, MainArtist - Anonymous, Author - Benjamin Britten, Composer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist

℗ 1959 Decca Music Group Limited

19
Sanctus - Benedictus
Westminster Cathedral Choir
00:03:12

Westminster Cathedral Choir, Choir, MainArtist - Anonymous, Author - Benjamin Britten, Composer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist

℗ 1959 Decca Music Group Limited

20
Agnus Dei
Westminster Cathedral Choir
00:02:03

Westminster Cathedral Choir, Choir, MainArtist - Anonymous, Author - Benjamin Britten, Composer - George Malcolm, Conductor, MainArtist

℗ 1959 Decca Music Group Limited

Rejoice in the Lamb, op. 30 (Benjamin Britten)

21
1. Rejoice in God, O Ye Tongues
The Purcell Singers
00:03:54

Benjamin Britten, Composer, Conductor, MainArtist - James Walker, Producer - George Malcolm, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - The Purcell Singers, Choir, MainArtist - Christopher Smart, Author - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gordon Parry, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1957 Decca Music Group Limited

22
2. For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffrey
Michael Hartnett
00:02:06

Michael Hartnett, Treble, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Benjamin Britten, Composer, Conductor, MainArtist - James Walker, Producer - George Malcolm, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Smart, Author - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gordon Parry, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1957 Decca Music Group Limited

23
3. For the Mouse is a Creature of Great Personal Valour
Jonathan Steele
00:01:00

Benjamin Britten, Composer, Conductor, MainArtist - James Walker, Producer - George Malcolm, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Jonathan Steele, Alto, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Smart, Author - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gordon Parry, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1957 Decca Music Group Limited

24
4. For the Flowers are Great Blessings
Philip Todd
00:02:05

Benjamin Britten, Composer, Conductor, MainArtist - James Walker, Producer - George Malcolm, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Philip Todd, Tenor, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Smart, Author - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gordon Parry, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1957 Decca Music Group Limited

25
5. For I am Under the Same Accusation
The Purcell Singers
00:02:27

Benjamin Britten, Composer, Conductor, MainArtist - James Walker, Producer - George Malcolm, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - The Purcell Singers, Choir, MainArtist - Christopher Smart, Author - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gordon Parry, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1957 Decca Music Group Limited

26
6. For H is a Spirit
Donald Francke
00:04:25

Benjamin Britten, Composer, Conductor, MainArtist - James Walker, Producer - George Malcolm, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - The Purcell Singers, Choir, MainArtist - Donald Francke, Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Smart, Author - Kenneth Wilkinson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gordon Parry, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1957 Decca Music Group Limited

Album Description


The first recordings of choral masterpieces by Britten, performed by the dedicatees and newly reissued in a unique compilation.


At Christmas in 1958, Benjamin Britten went to hear the boys of the Westminster Cathedral Choir sing his Ceremony of Carols conducted by George Malcolm. He was so impressed by their voices that he wanted to write something for them. Malcolm suggested a short Mass for boys’ voices. The result is the Missa Brevis, composed, performed and recorded by Decca on the occasion of Malcolm’s retirement as organist and choirmaster in July 1959.
During the previous decade, Malcolm had reformed the choir following a heritage of excellence established by his predecessor, Sir Richard Terry, while expanding the repertory, commissioning modern works from composers such as Britten and moulding the choral sound in the Continental style, learnt from his own Catholic training, which places much more emphasis than the Anglican tradition on chest voice. . He created a natural and throaty Continental sound – the sound boys make in the playground, as he put it – that suited the great Catholic polyphony choir, much emulated by other English choirs in succeeding generations.
Eighteen months earlier, Malcolm had also played the organ for the composer’s own recording of Rejoice in the Lamb, which sets portions of a poem by Christopher Smart extolling the praise of God in terms as touching and quirky as the text. In 1961 he took charge of the first performance at the Royal Festival Hall of the Cantata Academica, another celebratory work written to honour the quincentenary of Basle University, and made this recording for L’Oiseau-Lyre soon afterwards. Here too is a geniality and variety of colour and a wealth of melodic invention, in no way compromised by the use of a twelve-note serial theme.
Side B of the L’Oiseau-Lyre album reinforced Britten’s remarkable skill as a writer for unaccompanied chorus, with the Hymns to the Virgin and to St Cecilia, smaller-scale works but even more perfect in their way, and then the more recent Choral Dances in Elizabethan style from his Coronation opera Gloriana; Britten shared with Stravinsky an ability to recreate the past in terms of the present without any sense of pastiche or loss of individuality. (© Decca Music Group Limited / Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd.)


Details of original recording : Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 17 March 1961 (Cantata Academica), 18 May 1961 (Hymn to St. Cecilia, A Hymn to the Virgin, Choral Dances from Gloriana); Westminster Cathedral, London, UK, 22 July 1959 (Missa Brevis – Live Recording); All Souls, Langham Place, London, UK, 2 April & 6 November 1957 (Rejoice in the Lamb)

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