Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|King's College Choir|
O Come All Ye Faithful
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
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David N. (ilikeallmusic) from GADSDEN, AL
Reviewed on 8/9/2015...
It's Christmas in August - This CD is Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 "Album Pick" at AMG! A few of these songs took a little time to get use to them, never heard of them but there are also a good number of regular Christmas Hymns. For you Audiophiles out there this is a DDD recording, 48 minutes of great singing!! Good addition to a Christmas collection! - DN
A carol recital that hits a higher standard than expected
Yi-Peng | Singapore | 12/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The mark that the King's College Choir of Cambridge, England has left on classical Christmas music is as indelible as that of Bing Crosby on popular mainstream Christmas music, all because of the famous annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. It has made several carol collections, excluding four or five recordings of its famous Christmas service, and this 1984 collection is by far the best of all of them. Stephen Cleobury, who had only recently been appointed music director of the choir at the time of the recording, after serving a term or two as an organ scholar at St John's, carries on the tradition that Arthur Henry Mann and David Willcocks have shaped over the years as music director, but in addition, he breathes new life into the choral tradition. As a result, all carols sound fresh and new, even livelier, perhaps, than the Willcocks and Ledger recordings, and to add to this, the Decca recording made in the King's College chapel is truthfully and atmospherically balanced, with enough bloom on the sound but without beeing too reverberent or clouding in detail.
The opening track is, of course, Once in royal David's city. You would expect it to be presented as a processional, but this recording departs with tradition by presenting it as an interplay between the treble solo and the full chorus. The treble solo (in this case Robin Barter) sends shivers down the spine with his opening solo, and the advantage of this presentation is that every single word can be heard clearly, From there until the final carol, which is the eponymous title-track of this carol album, Stephen Cleobury and the bright, fresh, full-bodied voices of the choir allow us to unwind in a true, spiritually uplifting celebration of Christmas. The sound may be a little constricted, and the phrasing may sound a little hesitant in some places, but the result is still ethereal. All the carols are firm, tested favourites, with each presented in a fresh, new dress due to the interpretations. Most striking of all is Stephen Cleobury's new arrangements of Silent night, Away in a manger, and the relatively-unknown Seven joys of Mary. However, in the rest of the major carols, the true character of each is brought out clearly. Hark! the herald angels sing fares well on this recording, even with Philip Ledger's descant, but I admit I would have preferred the Willcocks descant instead. There are arrangements by the former conductors of the choir, and an original, evocative and tender setting of In the bleak midwinter by Harold Darke, the wartime conductor, that, despite its alien nature to Americans, sets the atmosphere of the Rosetti words. The same can be said of the setting of O little town of Bethlehem, using a charming, joyful yet reverent English folk tune. The tempi of each carol is just right, and well-suited to its nature, but some could do with slightly faster tempi in some of them, notably in the Sussex carol, well-arranged by Philip Ledger, Seven joys of Mary and God rest you merry, gentlemen. David Briggs makes a wonderful organ scholar when he accompanies the choir, and produces a glorious sound from the Harrison and Harrison organ.
This recital clocks in at 49 minutes, which is slightly not as generous as we hope it would be, decreasing the value of the disc slightly. To bring the total playing time to an hour, I would have liked it to have included In dulci jubilo (the choral and organ versions), Gabriel's Message and the beautiful Cornelius Three Kings, which have been relatively popular at King's carol services throughout the years. However, with the Willcocks recordings available on the Noel 2-CD set, showing Willcocks in a better light, due to more liveliness in his recordings of these carols, there is no need for the choir to re-record these pieces. These Willcocks recordings can be added to a reissue of this recording, hopefully in Decca's midpriced series.
Overall, this is indeed a carol album that deserves to make every classical Christmas CD collection feel incomplete without it, and it is convincing enough to show us that Christmas will not be Christmas without these stress-free, fresh and atmospheric renditions of traditional carols by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge.
As an aside, this carol album is too good for Christmas alone, and I doubt that anyone who listens to this can resist the urge to want to play this on non-Christmassy occasions."
Absolutely essential for Christmas
Chris Halkides | Wilmington, NC USA | 03/31/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I wish I could give this disk 6 stars. There are many, many fine Christmas disks, and more that a few great ones, but there isn't one better than this recording. It is full of seldom-heard carols that deserve much greater recognition. The lyrics to "In the Bleak Mid-Winter" are among the most pertinent to the season, and the setting by Harold Darke emphasizes the last line by repeating it in an unforgettable way. "The Infant King" is tender, sad, and almost painfully beautiful. If it were the only carol on the disk, it would be worth every penny. "The Holly and the Ivy" is noteworthy, too. The Choir of King's College knows how to use its cathedral space to best advantage. Cleobury generally directs with faster tempi than Willcocks, and that may not suit everyone's taste, but the choir has never sounded better."