Carols from Kings
David Goode (organ scholar), Guy Johnson (treble scholar (1)), Nicholas Todd (tenor solo (8)), Alexander Knight (baritone solo (6)), Choir of King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury.
rec. 2-3 August 1994, La Musée des Augustins, Toulouse.
Full Track-Listing at end of review
This set of carols from the world famous Kings College was recorded nearly twenty years ago; not in the chapel but in Toulouse during August! It comes, as is usual with Brilliant, without any notes or texts but this is offset by its bargain price. I’m sure this will be very popular this Christmas and certainly deserves to do well.
Once in royal David’s city must be, for many, associated with 3.00 p.m. on Christmas Eve when the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols is broadcast live from Kings. Guy Johnson sings the first verse beautifully before the choir makes their entry. Rejoice and be merry follows before a rousing Ding dong, merrily on high. The choir continue in fine voice with John Rutter’s What Sweeter Music followed by O little town of Bethlehem which sounds so fresh and vital. Howells’ A Spotless Rose appears on many Christmas discs and is a fine example of his work. David Goode, now organist and Head of Keyboard at Eton College, plays an interesting set of variations on King Jesus hath a garden which follows in its more familiar version as a carol. This was one of my mother’s favourites and is very well executed here, as is Sir John Tavener’s The Lamb.
Bogoróditse Dyévo (Hail Mary) is a lively Polish carol, with words similar to those at the start of the Magnificat, arranged by Arvo Pärt. He also provides the arrangement for Infant holy, infant lowly on which the choir avoid any cloying sentimentality. Illuminare, Jerusalem by Judith Weir is a slightly disconcerting carol, not often heard but I’m glad to find it here. While shepherds watched avoids any sense of routine and is followed by a lovely French carol Quittez, pasteurs which is on a similar theme: its translation "O Come Away Ye Shepherds”.
The organ prelude In dulci jubilo is another example of David Goode’s prowess and is succeeded by the carol itself; much loved by me. The arrangement by Sir Philip Ledger of The First Nowell is very effective and shows the strength of this world-class choir. They surpass themselves in Coventry Carol which I’ve never heard better on record. Personent hodie (English chorus, Ring bells ring) was arranged by Gustav Holst and appeared in the 2011 BBC service. O come all ye faithful brings the record to a triumphal conclusion.
This re-issue is a great document of King’s College in the early 1990s and the selection can hardly be faulted. Certainly worth its modest cost; it gave me great enjoyment.
A splendid selection from the world famous choir, which will give much pleasure.

David R Dunsmore

A splendid selection from the world famous choir, which will give much pleasure.
  Full Track-Listing
1 Henry J. GAUNTLETT (1805-1876), arr. Arthur H MANN (1850-1929) and David WILLCOCKS (b.1919) Once in royal David’s city [4:41]
2 Trad English Rejoice and be merry [1:30]
3 C16th. French (harm. Charles WOOD (1866-1926)) Ding dong, merrily on high [2:07]
4 John RUTTER (b.1945) What Sweeter Music [4:18]
5 Trad English arr. Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) and Sir Thomas ARMSTRONG (1898-1994) (descant in last verse) O little town of Bethlehem [3:39]
6 Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) A Spotless Rose [3:08]
7 Trad Dutch Heer Jezus heeft een hofken (organ variations) [7:18]
8 Trad Dutch King Jesus hath a garden [3:25]
9 Sir John TAVENER (b. 1944) The Lamb [3:29]
10 Trad Polish arr. Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935) Bogoróditse Dyévo [1:15]
11 Trad Polish arr. Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935) Infant holy, infant lowly [1:47]
12 Judith WEIR (b. 1954) Illuminare, Jerusalem [2:29]
13 arr. David WILLCOCKS (b.1919) While shepherds watched [2:41]
14 Trad French arr. John RUTTER (b.1945) Quittez, pasteurs [3:11]
15 Trad German arr. Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (c.1637-1707) In dulci jubilo (organ prelude) [3:00]
16 Trad, arr. Michael PRAETORIUS (1571-1621) In dulci jubilo [2:39]
17 arr. Sir Philip LEDGER (b. 1937) The First Nowell [5:22]
18 Trad English Coventry Carol [3:08]
19 arr. Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) Personent hodie [2:32]
20 John F WADE (1711-1786) O come all ye faithful [4:21]