One of the most grown-up review sites around


Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


16th-19th November


Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!


Nothing but Praise


BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set


Telemann continues to amaze


A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition


Another Bacewicz winner


match any I’ve heard


An outstanding centenary collection


personable, tuneful, approachable


a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.


music that will be new to most people


telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded


hitherto unrecorded Latvian music

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

A Very English Christmas
Tenebrae/Nigel Short
James Sherlock (organ)
rec. 21-22 January 2015, Church of St Augustine, Kilburn, London
Texts included
BENE ARTE SIGCD902 [55:35]

I've written many times in these pages of how much I admire Nigel Short and Tenebrae, so it will come as a surprise to no one that I loved his disc. The choir's small size and distinctive timbre lend a totally fresh sound to these lovely carols, something I found utterly beguiling; and that's before we even get to how well chosen the repertoire is.

As the title suggests, these are either original carols by English composers, or traditionals that have been freshly arranged by them. The disc opens, for example, with Simon Preston's blithely iconoclastic version of I Saw Three Ships, and Philip Ledger's 'organtastic' take on the Sussex Carol turns up later.

It's the original carols that are the real treat, though. There is so much to relish there, such as The Birds by Richard Hickox — who knew that he was a carol composer? — Christopher Robinson's slightly jazzy version of Rejoice and Be Merry, or Simon Preston's deeply thoughtful, tonally mysterious On Christmas Day. I also loved the varied textures of Bax's I Sing of a Maiden, and Paul Edwards' No Small Wonder is a jewel of simple devotion, beautifully sung. Richard Knight's Come Rock his Cradle is utterly delightful, and Gardner's Gallery Carol rounds the disc off with ebullience after the thoughtful beauty of Mary walked through a wood of thorn.

I was particularly fond of the Warlock sequence, which shows this composer at his very best, be it the moving Balulalow and I Saw a Fair Maiden, or the more upbeat Benedicamus Domino and As Dew in Aprylle. It makes me wonder, as I do every December, why we don't hear more of this composer's music as the year progresses.

The performances are impeccably blended and beautifully shaped at every turn, and the acoustic of St Augustine's church works well for the choir, though the organ is a little reedy. Some might claim that, at less than an hour, full price is asking a lot, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is so much to enjoy here. It's seasonal, beautiful and very appealing. Go for it.

Simon Thompson

Previous review: John Quinn

Track-listing 
Simon PRESTON I saw three ships
Simon PRESTON There is no rose
John GARDNER Tomorrow shall be my dancing day
Richard LLOYD Love came down at Christmas
Christopher ROBINSON Rejoice and be merry
Richard HICKOX The Birds
Peter WARLOCK Benedicamus Domino; Adam lay ybounden; I saw a fair maiden; Balulalow; As dew in Aprylle,
Philip LEDGER Adam lay ybounden
Simon PRESTON On Christmas Day
Philip LEDGER On Christmas night
Arnold BAX I sing of a maiden
Paul EDWARDS No small wonder
Jonathan LANE There is no rose
Richard KNIGHT Come rock his cradle
Alec REDSHAWE I sing of a maiden
John GARDNER Balulalow
Philip RADCLIFFE Mary walked through a wood of thorn
John GARDNER A gallery carol

 

 




Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger