Classical Music classical CDs reviewed New CD reviews every day latest Classical CD releases Buy your CDs of the classics here

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:


Ed HENDERSON (b1932)
Milagros de Navidad [18.38]
Noel Sing We! [11.14]
Lo, how a rose e'er blooming [3.04]
The Star [8.52]
Hernando FRANCO
(1532 - 1585)
Magnificat secundi toni [9.35]
Johann Sebastian BACH
(1685 - 1750)
Weihnachlieder [6.19]
Phoenix Bach Choir
Robert Tree Cody. Native American flute.
Frank Koonce. Classical Guitar.
Mark Sunkett. Percussion.
Jon Washburn. Narrator.
Conductor Jon Washburn
Recorded Jan 17 - 20 1997 All Saints Episcopal Church, Phoenix. DDD
Soundset Recordings SR1005 [58.22]

I listened to this recording late in the afternoon of a lovely June day in the Southwest of England - even though the CD is A Southwest Christmas and the Southwest referred to is Arizona - Phoenix to be more precise. Wrong geographically and wrong in timing, too, I enjoyed the disc even though listening to carols today was a little bizarre.

The programme is built around the Phoenix Bach Choir, a fully professional body that began as a Bach and Madrigal Society and still has a considerable emphasis on music of the Baroque and Renaissance. Under its regular conductor, Jon Washburn, who contributed to the programme as a composer, the Choir showed that it is an excellent unit. Clearly well-rehearsed, with commendable clarity of diction and a good balance in its sections and a full overall sound, it sang with feeling and skill in a virtually completely a capella programme.

To UK listeners, certain items on the disc are not what we would expect to hear at a concert over here. The opening Milagros de Navidad (The Miracle of Christmas) has solos and alternate verses sung in Spanish - even Away in a Manger that we would regard as a traditional English carol had Spanish text in with the English. Similarly Silent Night (originally German I believe) had Spanish verses. Nothing wrong there, it is just a little disconcerting to hear.

Apart from a guitar and a minimum of percussion, the only non-vocal music came from a Native American flute in the Washburn composition Noel Sing We! based on three old Christmas texts to which original tunes have been added. Two chant interludes linked the three and this plainchant interlude had a telling effect. A finely sung Magnificat by Hernando Franco had a combination of polyphony with plainchant and the two other Washburn pieces incorporate a traditional carol as well as newly-written material. Five small pieces and chorales by Bach were amalgamated under the heading of Weihnachtslieder.

Well recorded, this slightly unusual CD might appeal for Christmas if sampling in the shop is possible.


Harry Downey


Harry Downey

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers : - The UK's Biggest Video Store

Concert and Show tickets


Musicians accessories

Click here to visit

Return to Index