Giovanni Perluigi PALESTRINA
(c.1525 – 1594)
Hodie Christus natus est [2:14]
Hildegard von BINGEN (1098
O Ecclesia [7:26]
Traditional arr. Andrew Carter (b.1939) Angelus ad virginem [2:50]
Hugh RAONZANI (b.1985)
Alma Redemptoris Mater [6:52]
Tarquinio MERULA (c.1594
Aria de Ciaconna 'Su la cetra amorosa' [7:18]
Juan ARAÑÉS (d. c.1649)
Chacona 'A la vida bona' [4:04]
Henry PURCELL (1659 – 16950
Rejoice in the Lord Alway (The 'Bell' Anthem) [7:02]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756
Laudate Dominum [4:05]
Billy JOEL (b. 1949)
Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) arr. Philip Lawson (b.1957) [3:57]
Traditional arr. Tristan Coelho (b.1983) O Come, O Come, Emmanuel [4:17]
Traditional arr. Tristan Coelho (b.1983) The Coventry Carol [3:47]
Traditional arr. Tristan Coelho (b.1983) Noel nouvelet [3:31]
Herbert HOWELLS (1892 –
Here is the Little Door [3:36]
Katherine K. DAVIS (1892
The Little Drummer Boy arr. Tristan Coelho (b.1983) [3:22]
Franz Xaver GRUBER (1787
Stille Nacht (Silent Night) [3:28]
Anonymous arr. David Willcocks (b.1919) O Come, All Ye Faithful [3:35]
Recorded in the week before Christmas Day 2010, this seasonal offering reveals the quirky programming policy of artistic director Paul Dyer. He starts with Palestrina and thence journeys back to medieval Germany (Hildegard of Bingen) and then forward again via an eclectic array of works, arrangements and traditional pieces. I’m not sure anyone else has ever dared programme Angelus ad virginem
and Billy Joel together, but the man who hymned his Uptown Girl
shares stage space with Herbert Howells and Henry Purcell as well, and doesn’t seem unduly to suffer.
There’s a bell chime segue from some of these pieces, so we move in shivering expectation from one to another. It’s pleasurable to make the acquaintance of Hugh Ronzani, a young composer born in 1985 whose Alma Redemptoris Mater
is something of a find — a very warm, immediately attractive piece of music, which elicits merited applause. The arrangement of Merula’s Aria de Ciaconna 'Su la cetra amorosa'
showcases the excellent soprano Louise Pickett as well as the saxophone playing of Christina Leonard; a really catchy number, this.
Talking of which, there’s quite a swing to Juan Arañénes’ Chacona 'A la vida bona'
complete with vernacular cries. Purcell’s Rejoice in the Lord Alway
sounds a touch desiccated and rhythmically jerky. Tristan Coelho meanwhile has arranged The Coventry Carol,
in which the vocalists sing straight before the saxophone enters — it all sounds rather Hilliard Ensemble and Jan Garbarek to me. His arrangement of Noël nouvelet
incorporates Moroccan-style keening sax and medieval percussion, but the Howells is sung straight and true. That old standby, The Little Drummer Boy
, gets a makeover — and a very catchy one! And the Billy Joel song? It’s Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)
arranged by Philip Lawson; only so-so actually. We end the gig with a rousing O Come, All Ye Faithful
in David Willcocks’ arrangement.
This is certainly a different and eclectic way to spend the Christmas season.