Unjustly neglected Christmas music from Boughton

As we approach the Christmas period we thought we should share with you an album that we have picked from our shelves and we believe is unjustly neglected. It is Rutland Boughton’s Bethlehem in a a recording featuring the Holst Singers,with music director Stephen Layton, and the City of London Sinfonia conducted by Alan G Melville on the Hyperion label.

Bethlehem is the third of Boughton’s music dramas; it is a choral drama adapted from the Coventry Nativity Play. It was composed in 1915 and first performed on 28 December in Street, Somerset. The work was an immediate success and was performed at successive Christmas festivals and after publication in 1920 it gained popularity with amateur choral societies and was performed throughout the English speaking world. It is a work of simplicity and sincerity and was dedicated, in the score, ‘To my children, and all children’. Each section of the drama is rounded off with the singing of a popular carol. Music from another time perhaps; but music that is still capable of producing enjoyment.