MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... 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


Love Enfolds Thee Round
Hank Heijink (lute)
TENET Vocal Artists
rec. 2020, Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon, New York

This looks like a fairly conventional Christmas carol collection, including many old favourites, some early, music, some new music and some new arrangements of popular old carols. And, to a certain extent, that is precisely what it is; but it sounds very different from the usual run-of-the mill Christmas compendium. For example, I wonder what Sir John Goss might have thought hearing his familiar hymn See Amid the Winter’s Snow accompanied by a lute, and I am certain Sir David Willcocks had a very different sound in mind when he wrote The Infant King.
What makes this so very different is not the programme, nor the fact that the performers are a group of just six vocal soloists, but that these six vocal soloists are singing a programme which is mostly comprised of music, if not actually intended for, then most usually performed by, a choir. Peter Warlock’s unspeakably lovely Bethlehem Down feels almost skeletal in this pared-down version with the bare bones of his exotic harmonies brightly exposed, and Herbert Howells’s magical A Spotless Rose has no atmosphere in this precise, clinically clean performance. On the other hand, having the flabby flesh of multitudinous voices cut right back gives a welcome freshness to Walford Davies’s The Holly and the Ivy, and brings great clarity to Holst’s Lullay my liking. It also makes a refreshing change to hear the Sussex Carol shorn of its usual sparkling arrangements and shown off to be a really lovely carol in its own right. Best of all – and perhaps surprisingly so – are the two spirituals in the programme. There is a lovely feeling of spontaneity about this performance of Rise up Shepherd and Follow, and for an unbelievable five minutes of magic, just listen to a Charles Wesley Evans’ mesmerising unaccompanied solo delivery of Sweet Little Jesus Boy.

TENET Vocal artists comprises two sopranos (Jolle Greenleaf, who is also the group’s artistic director, and Molly Quinn), one mezzo-soprano and one tenor (Virginia Warnken Kelsey and Stephen Sands) and two bass-baritones (Charles Wesley Evans and Jonathan Woody). It is Woody who has made the new arrangements, and his distinctive handprint is a polyphonic interweaving of the lines with harmonies and rhythms which often seem to diverge wilfully. Some of them take a bit of getting used to, but have a certain austere beauty, such as the Coventry Carol and What Child is This?. This latter is sung by Woody himself with lute accompaniment, and it uses the famous “Greensleeves” tune so often incorrectly attributed to King Henry VIII. But the Greensleeves included in the programme as a solo lute piece, and stated as being by Francis Cutting, is, so far as I can make out, the third of Cutting’s Divisions of Popular Tunes which is more usually attributed to John Dowland. Whatever its origins, Hank Heijink gives it a suitably delicate and introspective account, which is rather rudely ended off by the labyrinthine key changes needed to segue this into What Child is This? The documentation with the disc is limited to the full sung texts and the tiresome and ridiculously extravagant marketing guff which seems de rigueur for all professional solo singers; you need to go online to find out which singer is singing which solos, and you need to search even more widely to find out any information about any of the music recorded here.

Surprising and unexpected as this all is, these are six superb voices, and while they do not in any way meld into a conglomerate choral ensemble, they do work well together in achieving a fine, equitable balance. The big downside of this is that there is very little musical colour or variety, and the weight of the interest lies in their precise diction, delivered with a crystalline clarity which makes every syllable and punctuation mark very obvious. It can only be a good thing to have the words of these often familiar carols so vividly conveyed, and the music, delivered in such clean and direct performances.

Marc Rochester

Charles Hubert Parry (1848-1918): Welcome Yule [1:25]
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 1750): O Jesulein süss [2:42]
St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787): Tu scendi dalle stelle [1:54]
Elizabeth Poston (1905-1987): Jesus Christ the apple tree [3:09]
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958): Wither’s Rocking Hymn [3:11]
Herbert Howells (1897-1983): A Spotless Rose [2:53]
David Willcocks (1919-2015): The Infant King (Sing lullaby) [2:13]
Gustav Holst (1874-1934): Lullay my liking [4:23]
arr. Jonathan Woody: Rise up shepherd and follow [3:06]
Peter Warlock (1894-1930): Bethlehem Down [3:11]
John Goss (1800-1880): See amid the winter’s snow [4:37]
trad.: Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle [2:03]
Spiritual: Sweet little Jesus boy [5:19]
Francis Cutting (1550-1595/6): Greensleeves [1:41]
arr. Jonathan Woody: What child is this [3:37]
Jonathan Woody, bass-baritone, Hank Heijink, lute 3:37
trad.: Sussex Carol [1:35]
arr. Jonathan Woody: Coventry Carol [3:59]
Anonymous (Yorkshire 1349): Veni mater gracie/Dou way Robin [2:34]
Michael Praetorius (1571-1621): Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen [2:18]
Henry Walford Davies 1869-1941): The holly and the ivy [2:52]
Peter Cornelius (1824-1874): Three kings from Persian lands afar [2:16]
Norman dello Joio (1913-2008): Hush thee, princeling [1:32]

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

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

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing