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Celebrate Christmas
Timothy Byram-Wigfield (organ)
*Richard Pinel (organ solo)
Choristers of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle/Timothy Byram-Wigfield
rec. Exeter College Chapel, Oxford, England, 14-15 March 2011; *St George's Chapel, Windsor, England, 21 July 2011. DDD

Experience Classicsonline
Celebrate Christmas
Once in Royal David's City (arr. Ralph Allwood) [2:58]
Malcolm SARGENT (arr.)
Zither Carol [1:59]
The Blessed Virgin's Cradle Song [2:44]
Louis Claude DAQUIN
*Nol Suisse [4:29]
Benjamin BRITTEN
There is no Rose (from: A Ceremony of Carols) [2:29]
A New Year Carol [2:25]
In Dulci Jubilo [3:28]
Il Est N, le Divin Enfant [3:27]
Star Carol (arr. Kenneth Pont) [3:28]
Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day (arr.) [3:09]
Patrick HADLEY
I Sing of a Maiden [2:45]
David WILLCOCKS (arr.)
Rocking [1:56]
O Little Town of Bethlehem [3:26]
Ding Dong! Merrily on High [2:08]
*Adeste Fidelis [3:11]
Lute Book Lullaby (arr. Geoffrey Shaw) [2:41]
Thodore DUBOIS
*Nol [4:10]
Gustav HOLST
Personent Hodie [2:34]
When Jesus Was Born (from: I Desired Wisdom) [5:09]
Johann Sebastian BACH
*In Dulci Jubilo (Chorale Prelude), BWV 729 [2:34]
Angel's Prayer (from: Hnsel und Gretel) [2:58]
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (arr. David Willcocks) [3:01]

Things are never quite what they seem at Christmas, and this festive CD from the gifted young Choristers of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, was mainly recorded in Oxford a year ago last March! Nevertheless, it does make an excellent Christmas gift for anyone who enjoys beautiful choral singing and appreciates the continuation of old traditions.
Unlike similar discs by the choristers of cathedrals like Wells and Rochester - released on Regent around the same time (REGCD 379, 399) - this one features boys' voices only, up to the age of thirteen. What attractive voices they are too: the blend is almost ideal, and the boys have admirable breath control, generally good diction, and a natural, expressive sparkle. Their director, Timothy Byram-Wigfield, himself a former chorister at Cambridge under David Willcocks and Philip Ledger, has achieved a sound of which the Chapel can be proud.
It is a sign of the times that even in genteel schools things are not what they were, and though the Choristers' Latin pronunciation in 'In dulci jubilo' is up to the standard of almost any adult choir in the UK, their French in 'Il est n' is rather hasardeux. Still, most of the songs are in English, and here they acquit themselves in a manner that would surely please the HM the Queen!
Their programme chiefly avoids secular favourites, lending it a more serious air than Wells or Rochester, enhanced by the interpolation of four atmospheric pieces for solo organ. However, it is less highbrow than Hereford Cathedral's (REGCD 388), and in general the Choristers sing with an appropriately exalting bearing.
Sound quality is very good indeed, splendidly capturing, as far as is possible, the ecclesiastical acoustic. Though only the organ pieces were recorded at St George's, the venue disparity is all but imperceptible. Other than biographies there are no notes to the music, but full texts are included for a Christmas sing-a-long - though Granny will need a good pair of reading glasses to make out the small print.
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