Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Hear Them Ring! The Bells of Christmas
arr Bruce GREER Good Christian Men, Rejoice
Georges BIZET arr Frances LEGGE Callahan March of the Kings (L’Arlesienne) -
Paul A MCKLEEVEN ‘Twas Christmas Eve –
arr Kevin MCCHESNEY The Twelve Days of Christmas
arr Cynthia DOBRINSKI What child is this?
arr Betty B GAREE Away in a Manger
Donald E ALLURED Carols in Colour –
Dale JERGENSON A Flight of Angels –
Donald E ALLURED Bellfest -
arr Richard E FREY Coventry Carol
arr Cynthia DOBRINSKI Ding Dong! Merrily on High
arr Arthiss KLIEVER Masters in This Hall
Judy HUNNICUTT Shepherds, Watching –
arr Karen Lakey BUCKWALTER In the Bleak Midwinter
Gloriæ Dei Ringers/Richard K Pugsley
With Patrick Clark (flute) on the last item
No recording details (? 1995)
GLORIÆ DEI RINGERS GDCD 019 [57.44]


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I have to admit that the prospect of listening to L’Arlésienne on the handbells is not one that sets my soul ablaze. I don’t ordinarily yearn to hear The Twelve Days of Christmas interpreted by an ensemble of bell ringers, nor does Ding Dong! Merrily on High often appear on my insouciant lips as I saunter through life’s corridors. Thus the appearance of Gloriæ Dei Ringers’ disc ‘Hear Them Ring!’ met with my sotto voce response ‘Not If I Can Help It’.

Boy, was I wrong. These virtuosi of metal and mallet positively palpitate with imagination and their arrangements are the ne plus ultra of shimmering, quivering pulsating pulchritude. Did Bizet imagine his immortal masterpiece would be visited by an ensemble of metal manglers? Well it has been and rather gloriously too, a fresh air, outdoors arrangement by Frances Legge Callahan summoning up twangy sonorities and pedal notes, a delicious range of colours – including plucking and martellato effects. There are eleven players in this plucky Massachusetts group directed by Richard K Pugsley – their singing compatriots in Gloriæ Dei Cantores are directed by Elizabeth C Patterson so maybe middle initials are especially prized in their neck of the woods – and they use 79 Malmark handbells (of 6 ½ octaves). Twas Christmas Eve receives a rather suggestive reading that ends in Renaissance dignity whilst the witty colouration of The Twelve Days of Christmas is full of pitch extremes and glittering sonorities, like stars exploding. Away in a Manger is saturated in impressionistic ostinato; if you think handbells are inflexible creatures listen to the dynamic variance cultivated by these patrician East Coast ringers. They wouldn’t rouse a butterfly’s eyelids with the spectral quiescence of their Malmarks.

A Flight of Angels is rhythmically novel; the sound of mallet on bell is distinctive as elsewhere the piping of shepherds in Shepherds, Watching is conveyed through simplicity and delicacy. Altogether their ensemble is metaltight, the sonorities they conjure full of lithe and pleasurable novelty. Perhaps in a spirit of tintinnabulist affinity let me quote the work of another patrician American composer, Duke Ellington, and his clearly prescient masterpiece, Ring Dem Bells.

Jonathan Woolf

 



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