British composer Michael Hurd, a follower of Gerald Finzi, settled in the Hampshire region and believed, atypically enough for the times in which he worked, that composers should be responsible to the communities in which they lived. His conviction manifested itself partly in a series of compositions for children's choirs, several of which are collected on this little release. They aren't precisely "pop cantatas," nor even the genre claimed in the title of the most famous of them, Jonah-Man Jazz. They resemble more the language of musical theater, and indeed, Hurd suggested that several of them might be staged. Jonah-Man Jazz and Swingin' Samson (1973) are a bit quaint, and the most convincing ones today are the ones that made no pretense at being pop: Rooster Rag, a delightful retelling of the Chanticleer story, and the final Captain Coram's Kids. But the singers of the New London Children's Choir have a good time with all of them, enunciate well enough that printed texts, not supplied, are generally not needed, and can boast among their number some excellent developing soloists. Hurd's short chunks of music seem to fit the young choristers nicely, and this CD is recommended especially to those involved with youth choirs outside Britain, where Hurd has up until now been best known.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Captain Coram's Kids|