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CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Enchanted Carols
Howard GOODALL (b.1958)
The Enchanted Voices/Howard Goodall
rec. EMI Studios, Abbey Road, London, no date given
CLASSIC FM CFMD 11 [70:00]
Experience Classicsonline

The Wise Men and the Star (Stella Quam Viderant Magi) [4:05]
The Angel and the Virgin (Angelus Ad Virginem) [6:51]
From Lands that See the Sun Arise (A Solis Ortus Cardine) [5:54]
The Word Was Made Flesh (Verbum Caro Factum) [4:30]
Lullaby of Winter [5:13]
A little child there is y–born [3:24]
Franz Xaver GRUBER (1787 – 1863) Silent Night [3:31]
The First Nowell [5:33]
Angels from the Realms of Glory [5:27]
Gaudete [2:23]
O little town of Bethlehem (Forest Green) [2:55]
In Dulci Jubilo [2:57]
Sussex Carol [2:47]
Gabriel’s Message (The angel Gabriel from heaven came) [3:47]
O come, o come Emmanuel [5:08]
We wish you a merry Christmas [1:18]

Assuming that I have been sent everything to do with this issue, I must say that it is a pretty slipshod piece of work. Nowhere on the single piece of card, which serves as an inlay, was there any mention of the musicians who feature prominently on this disk. Also, although I believe that it is Howard Goodall who is conducting the choir there is no mention of this on the card. The tracklisting doesn’t tell you which six carols are Goodall’s own compositions. There is also no information concerning who undertook the arrangements of the carols for accompaniment of cello, flute and glockenspiel. I suppose this to be Goodall‘s work too, for on his page on the Classic FM website he writes: “the … list of carols for this CD presented me with a challenge: how to hear these tunes and words afresh, how to give them ‘my’ sound without diluting the charm of the familiar.”
So here are seventeen pieces, all in very pretty arrangements, all sounding exactly the same, all faceless, and each one receiving as bland a performance as can be imagined. I find this whole collection to be akin to a big box of interesting looking chocolates where the contents table shows really exciting contents but in reality there is no substance and all the fillings are the same.
Howard Goodall is a fine composer with a real ability to communicate, through his music, with the public. I am sure that with his name attached to it this CD will do well. However, with such bland arrangements, the impression that I have is that they were done by rote. It sounds like the aural equivalent of painting–by–numbers which my generation enjoyed so much when we were children. What I cannot find here is the composer of the superb Missa Aedis Christi. Also, I am appalled that at 3:35 of Goodall’s own The Angel and the Virgin there is an edit which robs the music of a fraction of a beat. It jumps out of the speakers at you and is very disturbing, but it seems perfectly in keeping with the featureless presentation of the music.
This CD seems to me to be a cynical attempt to cash in on a previous success – the public being expected to accept anything offered them despite the editing gaff, the poor presentation and the insipidness. Even Goodall’s own carols are lacklustre, desperately needing a character.
For me this is a non-starter. It pains me to have to write this because I was so looking forward to this issue and I have a lot of time for Howard Goodall the composer. The ASV CD of Goodall’s own choral works, which includes his Mass, is always worth your time (CD DCA 1028). This concoction is best left to one side as a miscalculation.
Bob Briggs

[The reviewer was sent the promotional copy of the CD as submitted. It may be that the retailed copy contains a more detailed booklet]



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