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CHRISTMAS 2012



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New reviews will be added at the top as they come in so this will be a continuously growing file.


Jubilate Deo Early Baroque Festive Music for Christmas Time by Stadlmayr, Schütz & Gabrieli Orpheus Chor München, Les Cornets Noirs/Gerd Guglhör rec. 2011 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 839 [61:42] [JV]

Well worth investigating, despite some serious shortcomings. 

Nine Lessons and Carols The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury Ben-San Lau (organ) rec. 2010-12 KING’S COLLEGE KGS0001 [52:31 + 58:24] [JQ]

An ideal souvenir of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

The Christmas Memories Album ALTO ALN1920 [75:55]
Christmas at King's College Cambridge Choir of King's College Cambridge/David Willcocks, Simon Preston (organ) ALTO ALC1190 [65:23]
Medieval Christmas English Medieval Wind Ensemble/Mark Brown, Pro Cantione Antiqua rec. 1986 ALTO ALC1004 [65:48]
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Carols Cardiff Festival Ch/Owain Arwel Hughes, Robert Court (organ) rec. 2010 GRIFFIN GCCD 4072 [62:54]

Christmas with the Vienna Boys' Choir: The Christmas Movie rec. 1995 CAPRICCIO C9004 [33:00] [RJF]

This insight into the life of the boys of the Vienna Choir would have gained from more musical examples. Sparse timing overall! 

John A. SPEIGHT (b. 1945) Barn er oss fætt (Unto Us) Schola Cantorum Reykjavicensis, Mótettukór Hallgrímskirkju, Iceland SO/Hörður Áskelsson rec. 2002 SMEKKLEYSA SMK 41 [66:50] [JQ]

A sincere piece but with little evidence of Christmas joy. 

Horns for the Holidays Dallas Wind Symphony/Jerry Junkin rec. 2011 REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-126 [62:42] [NB]

I’ll leave the last word to the liner; “Merry Christmas y’all!” 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Christmas Oratorio Chamber Choir of the Frauenkirche, Ensemble Frauenkirche/Matthias Grünert rec. 2011 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300427BC [72:56 + 66:59] [JV]

The contributions of the soloists are the most satisfying part of this live recording.

Hark! - Traditional carols in a new light King’s Lynn Festival Chorus, Mardi Brass/Tom Appleton rec. 2011 LIR CLASSICS LIR024 [60:03] [DRD]

Bland arrangements of old favourites, which in the main make for a hard listen - not one for the stocking!

Machet die Tore weit Kay Johannsen (organ) Handel's Companye Continuo, Stuttgarter Hymnus-Chorknaben/Rainer Johannes Homburg rec. 2011 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM 90217256 [65:41] [JV]

The choir's singing and its sense of style are admirable, but the arrangements of various pieces were a bad idea.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Benjamin BRITTEN (1913 - 1976) A Ceremony of Carols, Saint Nicholas Trinity College Cambridge Ch/Stephen Layton, rec. 2007/12 HYPERION CDA67946 [73:30]
Hodie: Advent to Christmas Day Worcester Cathedral Chamber Ch/Stephen Shellard, rec.2009 REGENT REGCD330 [75:40] [MG]

Worcester is agreeable but Trinity is outstanding.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) A Ceremony of Carols, St. Nicolas Cantata, Trinity College Cambridge Ch/Stephen Layton, rec. 2007/12 HYPERION CDA67946 [73:30] [JQ]

Fine new Britten recordings set the bar high in advance of his centenary year.

Carols from Kings David Goode (organ scholar) Choir of King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury. rec. 1994 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9186 [66:11] [DD]

A splendid selection from the world famous choir, which will give much pleasure.

Bob CHILCOTT (b. 1955) The Seeds of Stars NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir/Bob Chilcott rec. 2012 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD311 [60:06] [ST]

Excellent singing captured beautifully … sure to appeal, and not just for Christmas.

Arnold MENDELSSOHN (1855–1933) Christmas Motets, Deutsche Messe SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart/Frieder Bernius rec. 2008/9 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC 93.293 [66:34] [BW]

Attractive music, constructed with a craftsmanship worthy of Arnold Mendelssohn’s more famous forebear … excellent performances and well recorded.

John GARDNER (1917-2011) Cantata for Christmas, 8 Carols, *Stephen King (organ); Mark Williams (piano) City of London Choir; Paulina Voices, The Holst O/Hilary Davan Wetton; *Chris Gardner rec. 2012 EM RECORDS EMR CD009 [59:40]

Another enterprising issue from EM Records of English music that deserves to be much better known. [JQ]
A great stocking-filler, accomplished music-making and unusual repertoire. [HP-R]
Congratulations to all concerned in its presentation and in the wonderfully committed and prepared performances. Worth every penny.[GH]

Holiday Classics Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz rec. 2007/8, NAXOS 8.572673 [62:29] [BR]

This album is a class act. The Grinch inside me didn’t say a thing. Instead my Christmas-carol-hating heart grew a size or two.

Navidad - Christmas music from Latin America and Spain The Toronto Consort/David Fallis rec. 2011 MARQUIS MAR81435 [68:02] [DD]

An unusual Christmas record from Latin America and Spain very well performed.

Jakub Jan RYBA (1765-1815) Czech Christmas Mass (“Hej, Mistře!”) Anon Czech Christmas Carols Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno, Czech Chamber Soloists/Petr Fiala rec. 2012 ARCODIVA UP 0155 CD [53:00][JS]

I would not want to miss such an engaging performance of this very engaging work.

On A Cold Winter’s Day Quadriga Consort rec. 2012, Track details at end of review CARPE DIEM CD 16293 [58.59][GH]

Go on, add it to your Christmas cheer and get a bit of Quadriga wassail.

Francesco DURANTE (1684 - 1755) Neapolitan Music for Christmas - Volumes 1 & 2 Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2010/11 CPO 777 571-2 & 777 734-2 [72:51 & 70:27] [JV]

Those who like to hear something less conventional during Christmastide should investigate these discs.

Voces8 - Christmas rec. 2011 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD291 [63:12] [JQ]

Polish and technical accomplishment from Voces8 but much on this disc seems too smooth and effortless.

Heinrich von HERZOGENBERG (1843-1900) Die Geburt Christi Ensemble Oriol, Staats- und Domchor Berlin, Kammerchor der Hochschule der Künste Berlin/Christian Grube rec. 1988 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC 98.001 [54:42 + 27:29] [BR]

Something unhackneyed and enjoyable for Christmas … but short value for a 2-CD set.

And Comes the Day - Carols and Antiphons for Advent Queens’ College Ch, Cambridge, The Queens’ Chapel Players/Silas Wollston rec. 2012 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100027 [62:10][DD]

A serious and thought-provoking collection of Advent works very finely performed.

Friedrich Wilhelm ZACHOW (1663 - 1712) Christmas Cantatas Constanze Backes (soprano) Capella Frisiae, Accademia Amsterdam/Ludger Rémy rec. 2009 QUINTONE Q10001 [79:25] [JV]

Definitely welcome as it pays attention to a composer whose vocal oeuvre has been unjustly neglected for too long.

Sleep, Holy Babe Blossom Street/Hilary Campbell rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572868 [57.07]

Charming performances of an intelligently and well thought out contemporary programme.

Georg GEBEL the Younger (1709 - 1753) Christmas Cantatas - Vol. 2 Cantus Wettinianus Dresden, Les Amis de Philippe/Ludger Rémy rec. 2009/11 CPO 777 611-2 [60:33] [JV]

This disc once again proves the commanding qualities of Georg Gebel the Younger as a composer of sacred music.

Christmas from Hereford Hereford Cathedral Choir/Geraint Bowen REGENT REGCD388 [72:22] [JQ]

Well worth considering as a Christmas present for someone.

Sacrum Mysterium - A Celtic Christmas Vespers Meredith Hall (soprano) Ensemble Le Nef/Sylvain Bergeron, Apollo’s Fire/Jeanette Sorrell (harpsichord)  rec. 2011 AVIE-AV2269 [69:04] [DD]

An unusual and thought-provoking Christmas disc sparklingly performed.

Jingle Wells Wells Cathedral Ch/Matthew Owens rec. 2012 REGENT REGCD 399 [62:17] [Byz]

Hard to imagine a better Christmas CD.

Advent at Merton Choir of Merton College, Oxford/Peter Phillips and Benjamin Nicholas rec. 2012 DELPHIAN DCD34122 [56:21] [JQ]

One of a handful of recordings that will stand head and shoulders above the flood of discs of music for the 2012 Christmas season.

A Brandenburg Christmas Louise Prickett (soprano) Christina Leonard (saxophone) Australian Brandenburg Ch & O/Paul Dyer (conductor and harpsichord) rec. 2010, ABC CLASSICS 476 4687 [71:56] [JW]

A different and eclectic way to spend the Christmas season.

A Winter’s Light Vasari Singers/Jeremy Backhouse, Martin Ford (organ) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573030 [73:48] [JQ]

A highly entertaining and very polished Christmas album.

Christmas Spectacular John Wells and Nicholas Forbes (organists) Musica Sacra, Auckland PO brass and percussion/Indra Hughes rec. 2011 ATOLL ACD 342 [71.21] [PCG]

It is not clear precisely which Christmas market this disc is aimed at.

Journey into Light Ch Jesus College, Cambridge/Mark Williams rec. 2011 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD269 [68:13] [DD]

A very well chosen selection of Christmas Choral music magnificently sung.

The Spirit of Christmas Present The Elysian Singers of London/Sam Laughton, Mark Brafield (organ) rec. 2011 MERIDIAN CDE 84601 [59:35][JQ]

Some interesting Christmas music by contemporary British composers. It can be enjoyed at times other than the Festive Season.

Christmas Improvisations on Christmas Songs Kay Johannsen (organ) rec. 2011 CARUS 83.368 [60:00] [JW]

Very well recorded, this will certainly make a change next Christmas.

A Choral Christmas The Rodolfus Choir/Ralph Allwood rec. 2010 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD257 [65:29][DD]

A very fine Christmas record with a good blend of the known, the new and original marvellously sung.

Celebrate Christmas Choristers of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle/Timothy Byram-Wigfield rec.2011 REGENT REGCD 374 [62:17] [Byz]

Sung with an appropriately exalting bearing.

Christmas from Rochester Choir of Rochester Cathedral/Scott Farrell and Samuel Rathbone rec. 2011 REGENT REGCD 379 [78:52] [Byz]

Not one for the annals.

 

 


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