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CD REVIEW

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AVAILABILITY Guild

Noël Nouvelet
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Frohlocket ihr Völker auf Erden [1:22]
Michael HEAD (1900-1976)
The Little Road to Bethlehem [3:08]
Bob CHILCOTT (b. 1955)
Shepherdís Carol [2:56]
German 14th Century arr. John RUTTER (b. 1945)
Quem pastores Laudavere [1:42]
John RUTTER
Maryís Lullaby* [3:34]
Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929-1988)
Coventry Carol [3:06]
Jonathan RATHBONE (b. 1957)
Corpus Christi Carol [4:25]
Judith WEIR (b. 1954)
Illuminare Jerusalem* [2:43]
Morten LAURIDSEN (b. 1943)
O magnum mysterium [6:02]
French trad. arr. Stephen JACKSON (b. 1951)
Noël Nouvelet*[4:15]
Naji HAKIM (b. 1955)
Ding dong! Merrily on high [2:14]
Humphrey CLUCAS (b. 1941)
Love came down at Christmas* [2:04]
Paul EDWARDS (b. 1956)
No small wonder* [2:38]
Franz GRUBER arr. Jonathan RATHBONE
Silent Night [3:55]
John GARDNER (b. 1917)
Tomorrow shall be my dancing day*[1:51]
Arr. Nigel SHORT (b. 1953)
Away in a manger* [3:09]
Arr. Malcolm SARGENT (1895-1967)
Hawaiian Lullaby [2:14]
Mel TORMÉ arr. Ward SWINGLE (b. 1927)
Christmas Song [3:20]
English trad. arr. Andrew CARTER (b. 1939)
The Twelve Days of Christmas [5:17]
Vasari Singers/Jeremy Backhouse
*Jeremy Filsell (organ)
rec. St. Judeís, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, 10-12 November 2006
texts and translations included
GUILD GMCD7314 [60:06]



 

What do you want when you look for a CD of Christmas music? I would guess a mixture of old and new, with the old cunningly renewed and with the new not too unfamiliar in idiom or content. If that is what you want, then you certainly have it in this disc, and, what is more, you also have a disc whose musical standards in terms of both the music and the performance are extremely high.

Mendelssohnís brief but very festive motet gets the collection off to a splendid start, followed by Michael Headís lovely carol, strangely by no means as frequently performed now as it was in the past. There follows a selection of varied delights. Old favourites coming up remarkably fresh include Judith Weirís "Illuminare Jerusalem" and Andrew Carterís imaginative treatment of "The twelve days of Christmas". Of the pieces new to me my own favourites are Naji Hakimís wonderfully exuberant "Ding dong! Merrily on high" and Morten Lauridsenís moving "O magnum mysterium", but it is difficult and possibly unhelpful to pick out individual items when one of the main attractions of the disc is the careful and sensitive programming which ensures that each item is heard to the best advantage. When added to performances which are committed and sensitive without any of the self-conscious exactitude to which some choirs are prone, and a clear but atmospheric recording, the disc recommends itself.

Rather than list the pleasures of each item in turn in a repeat of John Quinnís earlier review, let me simply recommend this as one of the most enjoyable Christmas discs I have heard for many years, and one which I am certain will rapidly become an old favourite to be looked forward to in anticipation each year.

John Sheppard

See also review by John Quinn RECORDING OF THE MONTH

 



 


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