Search - Stephen Varcoe, Henry John Gauntlett, Christmas Traditional :: Best Loved Christmas Carols

Best Loved Christmas Carols
Stephen Varcoe, Henry John Gauntlett, Christmas Traditional
Best Loved Christmas Carols
Genres: Folk, Special Interest, Pop, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #2

Originally recorded between 1964 and 1985, this generous 2-CD compilation ranges from carols dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries to timeless, mostly traditional popular favorites. The arrangers include such eminent ...  more »

      
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Originally recorded between 1964 and 1985, this generous 2-CD compilation ranges from carols dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries to timeless, mostly traditional popular favorites. The arrangers include such eminent composers as Vaughan Williams, Gustav and Imogene Holst, Arthur Sullivan, Peter Cornelius, and Felix Mendelssohn, as well as the Choir's own Directors, David Wilcocks and Philip Ledger. The 50 carols are carefully chosen for maximum contrast of tempo, mood and character; the settings, too, endeavor to create variety of texture and dynamics between the often numerous verses by alternately using solos and choruses, male, female and combined voices, creating cumulative build-ups, and adding a descant to the final strophe. However, even all these techniques and devices tend to become predictable, so it may be advisable to enjoy the program in judicious doses. Among these riches, listeners will find their own favorites, but it may be worth noting that "Silent Night" appears twice, once in English and once in German, and that two of the most famous carols--"O come, all ye faithful" and "Hark! The herald angels sing"--are accompanied by a very loud brass band playing fanfares with incongruous, "up-dated" harmonies--the only false note in the program. By contrast, the organ, employed in several introductions, as well as to provide powerful chordal support and all kinds of tinkling, bell-like effects never seems out of style or character. The singing is splendid. Basically "white," without vibrato, the sound has a wonderfully pure, truly celestial quality, but can rise to full, rich, ringing sonorities in the climaxes. Intonation, balance and ensemble are impeccable, the soloists are excellent. The reverberant acoustics of the Chapel of King's College, where the recordings were made, cushion the voices without obscuring the clarity of the lines. --Edith Eisler
 

CD Reviews

CD 1 Wrong Music
Steven R. Hitchcock | Arlington, VA USA | 12/20/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I put the CD in and was met by club music, I thought maybe it was some strange take on "Morning in the City of David" nope, the CD had been burned with the wrong image. I sent it back and received a new copy, it had the same issue. I listened to the second CD and loved ever moment of it, but until EMI/Amazon can rectify this issue, I cannot fairly rate it."
A voice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 09/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"ECLECTIC CAROLS THAT TRANSCEND THE COMMONPLACE

Listening to these carols extracted from the various Festival and Nine Lesson services held in the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge on Christmas Eve is incredibly inspiring and brings out the real meaning of Christmas and the joy of Jesus' birth. Why pick it apart??? They are recorded between the years 1969 and 1985. The conductors are firstly Sir Thomas Willcocks who directed the Choir from 1957-73 and Sir Philip Ledger from 1974-82. Both are excellent and I cannot tell the difference between the various choirs who would have had a different group of performers through the years.

The selection of carols is listed above, but I would like to mention a few that are most unusual because of their specific arrangements, and although they may be commonplace, sung by THIS choir, makes them very special. For example, the lovely descants(a higher part usually sung by treble voices in contrary motion to the other parts) added by each conductor,(usually brought in after the melody has been sung a few times) are present in several of the songs herein such as: 'Once in Royal David's City'- 'O Little Town of Bethlehem'- 'While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks'- 'It Came Upon a Midnight Clear'- and several more. Some very unusual (and possibly new to you) carols that I found tremendously attractive are: 'Adam lay ybouden' by Boris Ord (a former conductor of the Choir) - 'Personet Hodie' sung by the men of the choir- 'Quem pastores laudavere' 14th century German to name just a few. And then there were those that are somewhat familiar that I welcomed such as : 'A Spotless Rose' 14th century English- 'Tomorrow shall be my dancing day ' traditional English- and an American Carol that is not often heard in America 'Jesus Christ the apple tree'. The fact is these carols cover the gamut of countries, languages and genres. There are fifty in all and sung as only the King's College Choir can sing them with their clear-voiced boy sopranos, their velvet toned male altos, their tuneful tenors and resonant basses. Wonderful collection indeed!

The King's College Choir is an outstanding choral group that includes 16 male Choral Scholars who sing the alto, tenor and bass parts. (The Alumni of the Choral Scholars read like a list of 'Who's Who in the Vocal Music World- Michael Chance, Mark Padmore, Michael George, Stephen Varcoe, etc.)The Choristers, usually numbering about 20, are boy sopranos. To hear these beautiful, sometimes old familiar carols sung so skillfully and with much feeling is a thrill beyond compare. GO FOR IT!"