Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Sing Noel with Gloriæ Dei Cantores
arr Ralph HUNTER Sing Noel +
Gerald NEAR My Dancing Day –
Dale JERGENSON A Flight of Angels –*
William BILLINGS The Shepherd’s Carol –
Alfred BURT The Star Carol –
arr James CRISSMAN Carol of the Friendly Beasts
arr David WILLCOCKS Away in a Manger
arr Karen Lucy BUCKWALTER In the Bleak Midwinter *
arr Bruce SAYLOR Cantique de Noël ^
arr David WILLCOCKS Sussex Carol
arr Bruce SAYLOR O Little Town of Bethlehem
Alfred BURT Caroling, Caroling –
arr John RUTTER Ding Dong! Merrily on High #
arr David WILLCOCKS Masters in this Hall
arr Arthur WARRELL A Merry Christmas
arr Bruce SAYLOR A Christmas Garland
Gloriæ Dei Cantores
With Gloriæ Dei Ringers * and Gloriæ Dei Brass Ensemble #, Jay Humeston (cello) +, Carol Mastrodomenico ^
Conducted by Elizabeth C Patterson
Recorded Mechanics Hall, Worcester, MA, USA 1992, 1995 and 1999


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

As I trudged homeward, the February rain lashing my exposed trouser legs, my uncovered head vulnerable to the icy wind, the thought of reviewing a Christmas CD took on a particularly bilious hue. Shaking umpteen gallons of nature’s finest from my ramshackle frame I greeted the foregathered family with a stern yet not unyielding grimace. "Gloriæ Dei Cantores", I intoned gnomically and unsheathed a disc sporting Cape Codians lustily celebrating the joys of hearth, holly and manger. Pausing only to land a glancing blow on an obstinate hound or two I took my decanter, towel and fifteen aspirin into the sanctum sanctorum and slowly closed the door behind me. The time had come.

Facing Sing Noel a seventeen and a half minute arrangement of what the notes call a colourful set of carols by Ralph Hunter I was expecting the usual Yuletide good cheer, Bing Crosby and Greensleeves. I got Greensleeves, was spared the Old Groaner (shame, I’m partial) but did receive unexpected alternative cheer when my by now bleary ears detected an unaccustomed sound. It was the fine cellist Jay Humeston intoning the unannounced Casals’ Song of the Birds. Immediately I flung away my despondent mien and seized the evening with renewed vim. Who knows, I may even have stood at the window and surveyed the vastness of my suburban vista with a moist eye – the parking lots, discarded shopping trolleys and superstores seemed now to glow with almost celestial warmth. Or maybe it was the Johnny Walker. And so I listened – the First Noel came and went as did I wonder as I wander and the whole caboodle ended with a vintage piece of MGM romanticism, lush, rich and – well, was it my imagination or did I see the ghost of Jimmy Stewart, eyes twinkling, homburg half off, large brown packages under his arm for the v-necked kids asleep by the fire….

Actually there’s a deal of imaginative orchestration here, plenty to interest and keep expected truisms at bay. The quietly sprung organ and dancing feet of My Dancing Day, the rhythmic push and varied sonorities, generated by the mallets, in A flight of Angels. Billings’s The Shepherd’s Carol is reasonably solid craftsmanship – though the boy sopranos wobble about precariously during the Carol of the Friendly Beasts. I thought for one particularly hallucinatory moment that I was listening to Holst on the Handbells – a suitable autobiographical title one would have thought for some matron from Cheltenham – and then I realized I was. Karen Buckwalter has arranged his In the Bleak Midwinter for bells and flute. I was not unpleasantly dumbfounded. Carol Mastrodomenico unleashes her powerful operatic lungs on Cantique de Noël (or O Holy Night) in an arrangement by Bruce Saylor and she returns for a Schumannesque O Little Town of Bethlehem, twinned from the sound of it with Leipzig. I enjoyed the brass ensemble essaying a Renaissance dance in Ding Dong! Merrily on High – isn’t it one of the Farnaby dances Rubbra set? – and the David Willcocks arranged Masters in This Hall has a suitably spacious tread. They sing the Sussex carol with beautiful tone and an eloquent, touchingly uplifting descant.

So, plenty of Ding, not a little Dong and a commendable amount of merrily on high. I found, on observing the ancient mantelpiece that tocks through the fastness of the night that seventy minutes had passed as in the blinking of an eye. I opened the door and greeted the family with something approaching warmth. And as I caught sight of the old profile for a moment in a passing mirror I couldn’t swear that Jimmy Stewart wasn’t winking back at me.

Jonathan Woolf

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