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Canticles II: Abraham and Isaac, Op. 51

(Benjamin Britten)

This two-person opera was written in 1952 as part of Benjamin Britten’s The Five Canticles & 3 Purcell Realisations.  The piece, written for alto, tenor and piano, was taken from the Chester Miracle Plays and uses an adaptation of the original medieval text.  It is a musical portrayal of “The Binding of Isaac” that appears in Genesis 22 and depicts Abraham taking his son Isaac to Mount Moriah to sacrifice and the last minute intervention by God.  The two singers perform in unison to represent the voice of God.

The premiere recording was performed by the English tenors John Elwes in the role of Isaac and Peter Pearson as Abraham.  It has since appeared on recordings such as Benjamin Britten: The Rarities.

Here it is performed by The Norfolk Chamber Consort…