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Christmas Lullabies
Full track-listing at end of review
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano)
Danielle Perrett (harp)
rec. Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, Wales, 20-22 August 2013
NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 7095 [60:48]

The marvellously pure voice of Charlotte de Rothschild is the perfect vehicle for this repertoire. Good that she begins with some Rubbra, too: “A Hymn to the Virgin” is given with a lovely legato and some wonderful phrase shadings. “Jesukin”, too, is the epitome of Christmas-spiced beauty. It is de Rothschild's ability to spin a simple line so magically that enthrals: Quilter's “An Old Carol” is the perfect instance. 

Some are well known: “Adam lay ybounden”, for instance, which rises to a lovely, almost ecstatic “Deo gratias”. Some, much less so: Thomas Dunhill (1877-1946: think contemporaneous with the likes of Tovey and Hurlstone) provides “To the Queen of Heaven”, another short song that rises to a glorious close. Obviously, the prevailing tone of the recital is reflective and contained, yet within this the programme finds myriad variation, from the folk-song tinged “The Final Mercy” (Warlock) through “I Wonder as I Wander”. The placing of “I Wonder as I Wander” exemplifies the care put into the programme order here: this is one of the most exposed tracks on the disc; the Britten that follows (“Corpus Christi Carol”) emerges as an extension of it; its more advanced, very characteristically Britten harmonic language seemingly the logical next step.
 
Charlotte de Rothschild has the most pristine of voices, and so is eminently suited to this repertoire. Danielle Perrett is a superb player, and not just a superb accompanist, as her rapt reading of the Old French carol “Let all flesh keep mortal silence” shows. The recording is simply exemplary throughout. An essay by Charlotte de Rothschild (“Christmas at Exbury”) sets the scene deliciously.
 
Harp solos are strategically placed for variety's sake, and they provide their own brand of magic. Then there is the ever-popular “Walking in the Air”, as inevitable as it is poignant. Those chestnuts which roast every year in an open fire provide a fitting end, especially as the song ends with the words “Merry Christmas to you”, the perfect way to leave the listener. 
A lovely, heart-warming disc. Enjoy.
 
Colin Clarke 
 
Track-listing:
 
Edmund RUBBRA (1901-1986)
A Hymn to the Virgin, Op. 13/2
Jesukin, Op. 4/2.
ANONYMOUS/Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930)
Adam lay ybounden. The First Mercy.
Roger QUILTER (1877-1950)
The Old Carol. The Cradle in Bethlehem.
Thomas DUNHILL (1877-1946)
To the Queen of Heaven
ANONYMOUS
Let all mortal flesh keep silence. O come O come Emmanuel (both arr. Cambern) What Child is this?. (solo harp: arr. Perrett)
Michael PRAETORIUS (1571-1621)
Lo, how a rose e'er Blooming (arr. Cambern)
Max REGER (1875-1916)
Maria Wiegenlied, Op. 78/52
Michael HEAD (1900-1976)
The little road to Bethlehem. Star Candles
John IRELAND (1879-1962)
The Holy Boy
Peter CORNELIUS (1824-1874)
Die Könige
Adolphe ADAM (1803-1856)
Cantique de Noël (arr Jaeger)
John Jacob NILES (1892-1980)
I wonder as I wander (arr. Cambern)
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
A Boy is Born: Corpus Christi Carol
Howard BLAKE (b. 1938)
The Snowman: Walking in the Air
Mel TORME (1925-1999) and Robert WELLS (1922-1988)
Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire 

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