Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Buy through MusicWeb for £12.00 postage paid.

Musicweb Purchase button


A Tapestry of Carols
Maddy Prior; The Carnival Band
rec. The Meeting House, Frenchay, Nr. Bristol, UK, February 1987. DDD.
Booklet with notes but no texts.
SAYDISC CD-SDL366 [51:05]

Experience Classicsonline

The Sans Day Carol [3:36]
In Dulci Jubilo [2:59]
God Rest You Merry Gentlemen [4:35]
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear [3:41]
The Holly and the Ivy [3:15]
The Coventry Carol [3:25]
The Angel Gabriel [2:46]
Angels from the Realms of Glory [3:11]
Infant Holy [1:27]
A Virgin Most Pure [5:15]
Unto Us a Boy is Born [2:56]
Rejoice and Be Merry [2:05]
Joseph Dearest [3:53]
Personent Hodie [2:55]
Sussex Carol: On Christmas Night [2:29]

As long as you’re not looking for authenticity – a pretty elusive commodity, anyway, when it comes to Christmas music, much of which has been rearranged and re-interpreted over and over again – you should find this CD enjoyable.

Many will have already encountered Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band, perhaps on their other Saydisc recording of hymns in the style of the gallery choirs whose demise Thomas Hardy records in his novels (CD-SDL383). Prior sings in the folk-like style which she developed with Steeleye Span and the band accompany her with a variety of instruments ancient and modern, including gittern, mandocello, cittern, tabors, basel trammel, tambourin provençal, Flemish bagpipes and shawm, to name but a few, all well recorded.

This recording was a follow-up to the recording of Christmas carols for BBC 2 television which Maddy Prior made with the Carnival Band in 1984, soon after their formation. If you’re expecting to hear them in full-blown style, you may be surprised that the programme opens with a comparatively restrained performance of the Sans Day carol, a traditional Cornish carol extolling the virtues of the holly, ‘the first tree in the greenwood.’ The next piece, In dulci jubilo, also receives a comparatively restrained performance; in fact, I didn’t think Maddy Prior’s voice particularly well suited to this 14th-century German piece.

The rhythmic performance of God rest ye merry gentlemen sees Prior and the band in something closer to what we have come to expect from them; though even here they don’t exactly pull out all the stops, they’ll almost certainly get your feet tapping. It came upon the midnight clear, a more reflective work, also lends itself well to Prior’s voice and the rhythmic accompaniment. The slight tinge of melancholy of her voice is well suited to the world-weary tone of the words, which contrast the two thousand years of wrong with the hopeful message of the Christmas angels and the promised Age of Gold.

The recorder introduction to The Holly and the Ivy, with subtle percussion accompaniment, is a minor work of art in itself; the rendition of the carol itself is excellent – soloist and accompaniment are well into their stride by this point: another foot-tapper.

The Coventry Carol (‘Bye, bye, lully, lullay’) lends itself to a wide variety of performances. Some stress the madness of ‘Herod the king in his raging’, but the version here emphasises the pathos of the event just as effectively. The glockenspiel accompaniment to the following Ding dong merrily on high and Prior’s tone of restrained exuberation lift the mood most effectively out of pathos. My only reservation is that I’m sure I’ve heard Prior render the refrain Hosanna in excelsis more unrestrainedly. Normally, I’d be scratching like mad on my critical slate when she adds an intrusive r to hosanna-r-in excelsis, but, of course, it’s absolutely in style here – effectively, it’s Maddy Prior’s trade-mark. The same is true of her less-than-clear enunciation of the Latin in Personent hodie. When she doesn’t repeat the intrusive r in Gloria in excelsis, the refrain of Angels from the realms of glory, I’m slightly disappointed.

The Angel Gabriel, with the instrumentalists joining in a quiet vocal background, evokes a mood of mystery, while the next piece, Angels from the realms of glory, as the notes explain, ‘somehow got changed from a French folk tune into a mixture of Cajun fiddle and New Orleans marching band.’ Anyway, it’s fun – in many ways this track is the highlight of the CD.

Infant Holy and A Virgin most pure return us to a more restrained style, though in the latter in particular the performers more than atone by the rhythmic quality which they impart to the music.

The instrumental introduction to Unto us a boy is born – recorders, gittern and glockenspiel – has a mysterious quality, leading into Prior’s almost other-worldly singing. Joseph dearest also receives a thoughtful performance, miles removed from McCreechs’s lively account of Prætorius’s setting of its German analogue, Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem on his superb reconstruction of a Lutheran Christmas Mass. I yield to none in my admiration of that Archiv CD (439 250-2 – see review) but Maddy Prior’s very different interpretation is very fine in its own terms.

By contrast, Rejoice and be merry and Personent hodie are more foot-tappers. The accompaniment and singing in Personent really capture the spirit of the renaissance dance-band in a manner reminiscent of David Munrow’s classic recording of Prætorius’s Dances from Terpsichore. The Sussex Carol rounds off the programme very effectively – another magical accompaniment to a lilting performance.

These performances may not be quite as lively as I had expected from Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band, but they are well worth acquiring for something very different from the usual Christmas Carol collection in the cathedral tradition. I wouldn’t ever want to be without the likes of King’s for Christmas – their Essential Carols on Decca 475 6655 offers an excellent 2-CD bargain – but I like this Saydisc recording, too. The inclusion of the texts would have made my enjoyment even greater.

Brian Wilson





Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.