MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around   2022
 57,903 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Christmas at St George’s Windsor
Luke Bond (organ), The Choir of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle/James Vivian
rec. 2018, St Matthew’s Church, Northampton; All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London
HYPERION CDA68281 [70:23]

Christmas is often called the season of goodwill, so it would be churlish to castigate Hyperion for their blatant bit of mis-packaging. Suffice it to say that this recording is neither devoted to Christmas music nor does it come from St George’s, Windsor. The music is drawn equally from three adjacent seasons of the church’s year – Advent, Christmas and Epiphany – and, probably because of its proximity to Heathrow Airport, the recording was not made anywhere near Windsor Castle, but in two un-connected churches; the accompanied items in Northampton and the unaccompanied ones in Gospel Oak. But it’s not just the wish to avoid ill-feeling at this time of year which prompts me to let this misrepresentation pass; it’s the fact that this is, at any time of the year and in any place, a really lovely recording of some exquisite singing.

Perhaps because they are away from their home ground, James Vivian and his St George’s Chapel choir do not always get it quite right. Philip Ledger’s arrangements of The Sussex Carol and I Saw Three Ships dash along rather faster than is good for them, and while the choir’s diction is never anything but flawless and their precision of articulation magnificent, at these speeds they cannot really bed down into a solid enough tone to make it sound anything other than rushed. Possibly this tendency to hurry saves Alun Hoddinott’s rather heavy-handed Saviour of the World, and while I still have no idea why Mykola Leontovych’s irritatingly insistent Carol of the Bells ever gets performed at all, let alone as frequently as it is, at least this express-train version gets it over and done quickly.

With room and space to relish the music they sing, the St George’s Chapel Choir comes up with some simply enchanting performances. John Gardner’s marvellous Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day comes off magnificently at Vivian’s decidedly stately tempo, while Luke Bond gets it absolutely right in the extraordinarily complex organ accompaniment of David Briggs’ other-worldly (if French-infused) arrangement of Away in a Manger. There is one true star track, in the guise of Adolphe Adams’ Cantique de Nol. Tenor Nicholas Madden delivers this with such an unfussed, natural and deliciously fluent voice, oozing musical artistry and wafting the scents of France through an impeccable delivery of the text, and with Bond a model of accompanimental sensitivity, that this has to be my favourite Christmas Track of the year.

Each of the three ecclesiastical seasons is represented by a varied collection of musical items, each beginning with a plainchant antiphon beautifully enunciated by the gentlemen of the choir. A setting based on the opening antiphon by Byrd follows, again delivered by the men with sumptuous stylishness, and then comes a collection of traditional carols in modern arrangements interspersed with original new pieces. Advent also brings us an added extra in the shape of a top-notch account of Gibbon’s classic anthem, This is the Record of John while Epiphany has two gorgeously sung gems in Reginald Jacques’ Gallery Carol and Peter Warlock’s hauntingly beautiful Bethlehem Down.

It may not be quite what it says on the box, but its charms are none the less for that and as seasonal music goes, this new release from Hyperion is almost 70 minutes of pure magic.

Marc Rochester

Anonymous: Creator of the stars of night [2'09]
William Byrd (1539/40-1623): Vigilate [4'02]
Alun Hoddinott (1929-2008): Saviour of the world [1'09]
Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625): This is the record of John [4'00
Joseph Rheinberger (1839-1901): Rorate caeli [2'49]
Michael Finnissy (b1946): Telling [4'02]
Arvo Prt (b1935): Bogoroditse Devo [1'07]
Otto Goldschmidt (1829-1907): A tender shoot [2'07]
John Gardner (1917-2011): Tomorrow shall be my dancing day [2'21]
Anonymous: Puer natus est nobis [1'04]
William Byrd (1539/40-1623) Puer natus est nobis [4'45]
Trad., arr. Philip Ledger (1937-2012): Sussex Carol [1'51]
Adolphe Adam (1803-1856) Cantique de Nol [6'11]
Mykola Leontovych (1877-1921): Carol of the bells [1'20]
Richard Madden (b1953) Watts' cradle song [3'46]
Trad., arr. Philip Ledger (1937-2012): I saw three ships [1'29]
William Kirkpatrick (1838-1921), arr. David Briggs (b1962): Away in a manger [5'09]
Trad., arr. William Whitehead (b1970): The seven joys of Mary [4'22]
Anonymous: Ecce advenit [0'47]
William Byrd (1539/40-1623): Ecce advenit [4'16]
Alan Bullard (b1947): The gracious gift [2'58]
Trad., arr. Reginald Jacques (1894-1969): A gallery carol [1'25]
Peter Warlock (1894-1930): Bethlehem Down [4'28]
Matthew Martin (b1976): Nowell sing we [2'34]

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount