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A un niño llorando. Christmas with Quink Vocal Ensemble
Quink Vocal Ensemble (Marjon Strijk (soprano); Mariëtte Oelderik (soprano); Elsbeth Gerritsen (alto); Harry van der Berne (tenor); Kees Jan de Koning (bass))
rec. N H Kerk, Mijnsheerenland, The Netherlands, 23-25 June 2008
Original language texts and English translations included
CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72306
[64:40]
Experience Classicsonline



Laudario DI FIRENZE (13TH century) Gloria in cielo e pace in terra [3:36]
Leonardo GIUSTINIAN (14th century) O Jesú dolce [2:53]
Francisco GUERRERO (1528-1599) Niño Dios díamor herido [2:27]; Pastores, si nos queréis [2:05]; Oyd, oyd, un cosa divina [2:12]; Virgen sancta [3:32]
A un niño llorando [2:41]
English Traditional (c. 1777) arr. C. Wood A Virgin most pure [3:03]
French Traditional (16th century) arr. C. Wood Ding Dong! Merrily on high [1:51]
English Traditional arr. A. Sullivan It came upon a midnight clear [2:12]
Dutch Traditional arr. C. Wood King Jesus hath a garden [4:04]
English Traditional arr. D. Willcocks God rest ye merry, gentlemen [2:42]
English Traditional arr. C. Wood Past three a clock [3:14]
Venezuelan Christmas Carol arr. A. H. Johnson [1:46]
Dutch Christmas Carols O kerstnacht, schooner dan de dagen (arr. A Vranken) [2:42]; Laat ons met harten reine (arr. J Bremer) [3:24]; O herders, laat uw bokken en schapen (arr. J Bremer) [3:24]; Het komet een schip geladen (arr. J Bremer) [2:54]
English Traditionals O little town of Bethlehem [3:02]; Away in a manger (arr. P Ledger) [2:19]
Leland B. SATEREN (1913-2007) Celebrate this Holy One [2:02]
Peter GRITTON (b. 1963) Follow that star [2:03]
Mel TORMÉ (1925-1999) arr. P. Gritton The Christmas song [1:58]
Hugh MARTIN (b 1914)/ Ralph BLANE (1914-1995) arr. P. Gritton Have yourself a merry little Christmas [2:21]

The vocal quintet Quink is now thirty years old, though Iím not sure that the membership has remained constant Here they present a nicely planned and varied programme of Christmas music.

The group, which I donít think Iíve heard before, is clearly very skilful and throughout the recital their singing is clean, precise and expertly blended. Perhaps itís just a bit too controlled, however, and though the programme has been carefully designed Iím not sure Iíd recommend listening to the whole disc at a sitting.

Some items work very well indeed. The group of pieces by Guerrero do, I think, though those who like their Iberian polyphony sung in a more authentic open-throated style may disagree. For me their delivery of these pieces is perfectly proportioned and they achieve a nice bounce in the joyful Pastores, si nos queréis. By contrast the smoother contours of Niño Dios díamor herido are also negotiated beautifully. Incidentally, for those, like me, who donít speak Spanish, the full title of the Guerrero piece from which the album takes its name, in a foreshortened version, is translated as ĎA child crying in the coldí.

The group of traditional European carols is a more qualified success, I think. Some of the items work quite well and in this category Iíd place A Virgin most pure and Past three a clock, though the former would have been better if taken a notch quicker, I feel. The same applies to King Jesus hath a garden. Iím underwhelmed, however, by It came upon a midnight clear and God rest ye merry, gentlemen. Iíll admit that part of my reaction is due to conditioning but these are surely larger scale carols that work best when sung by a bigger group of singer. Here, shorn of any accompaniment and with just five voices, they sound puny, to be frank.

On the other hand the Venezuelan Christmas Carol, sung in English, is a delight. The Dutch carols generally work very well too. The three arrangements by Jetse Bremer are all very skilful and effective. I especially liked O herders, laat uw bokken en schapen (ĎO Shepherds, leave your goats and sheepí) which has an infectious lilt. This arrangement takes some unexpected turns. The only slight disappointment in this group is O kerstnacht, schooner dan de dagen (ĎOn Christmas Night, than days more brightí). Despite its title this chorale-like carol is really about Herodís massacre of the Holy Innocents. The text is quite graphic, though you wouldnít know it from the smooth singing. I kept thinking what bite a group such as the Monteverdi Choir might have brought to this piece.

Four twentieth-century items complete the programme. I enjoyed Celebrate this Holy One but the jazz-influenced Follow that star is not really to my taste. The close harmony arrangements of the two closing Christmas standards are clever and, like everything else on this disc, immaculately executed.

Great care has gone into the devising of this programme and the performances have also had great care and professionalism lavished upon them. That last comment highlights the discís strength but also, perhaps, itís weakness. Overall, I enjoyed this CD but sometimes I wished the members of Quink had just let go a bit and given us a less immaculately manicured recital

John Quinn


 


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