Search - John Eliot Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir :: Once As I Remember: The Story of Christmas

Once As I Remember: The Story of Christmas
John Eliot Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir
Once As I Remember: The Story of Christmas
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
  •  Track Listings (30) - Disc #1


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CD Reviews

Personal and Universal
David Wihowski | Milwaukee, WI USA | 12/18/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This recording is a personal memoir of John Eliot Gardiner's childhood. His family put on an annual Christmas pageant involving a large cast of family, friends, neighbors, etc. The selections on this CD are the selections that were used for the pageant, plus a few of Mr. Gardiner's new favorites added as well. (The readings that were part of the pageant are included on the liner notes.) On my first listen to this recording the music was beautiful, but it seemed like an ad hoc collection. The cause for this seemed to be the variety of fairly diverse styles from one selection to the next. There are high Renaissance pieces, contemporary pieces, traditional carols, some Medieval selections, and a few other odds and ends. Most of the works are a cappella, but some are accompanied. All are executed with the flawlessness of the Monteverdi Choir. But the album didn't seem to have a flow or direction.Then I read the readings that went between the selections as well as the liner notes about the pageant. Ever since then the CD "clicked." The flow of the selections made wonderful sense.If you by this CD I suggest you read the liner notes first and the readings in the order they are intended. At least for me it made the CD a complete work of art.This CD is a glimpse into what "made" the conductor John Eliot Gardiner. It is also a universal statement of Christmas."
A voice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 12/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

This CD is a nativity play entitled 'ONCE AS I REMEMBER', made up of music, speech, dance and mime. It took place in the Millroom at Springhead, home of the Gardiner family in Dorset. In the accompanying booklet there is a detailed outline of the history of the play and pertinent information. In addition, the liner notes can be followed as you listen, but if you follow my introductory suggestion, I think that you might get more overall enjoyment from the recording.

Most of the music is for small, unaccompanied choir, an eclectic miscellany of carols, some familiar others less so, from all around the world, and more sophistocated polyphony from the sixteenth century, chosen primarily for its suitability as accompaniment to a given stage of mimed action. Simple plainsong would be followed by the most elaborate polyphony of Byrd, French and German carols would rub shoulders with Palestrina or with contemporary music, specially composed for the play. Gardiner states that for this particular recording he added a few favorite pieces, as with Tavener's 'The Lamb' that was composed after the play was discontinued in 1971.

The performance of the Monteverdi Choir and respective soloists is vibrant, exciting, dictionally perfect employing good phrasing and that buoyant tone quality that rises to the top and moves forward.

Although it is mostly unaccompanied, there are some carols that make use of such instruments as for example: 'Hodie Christus Natus est' (Bassano)(Sweelinck)'Quem vidistes Pastores?' uses two cornets, four sackbutts and organ.- 'Ach Herr, Du Schopfer' (Schutz) uses organ- 'Guillo, pran ton tamborin' uses recorder and drum- 'Psallite' uses one cornet and three sackbutts and organ- 'Entry of the three Kings' uses oboe. The instrumentalists provided a skilled an attractive accompaniment.

Granted that this is a personal memoir of Gardiner's, the music itself stands on its own merit. I really found that the accompanying liner notes and story line was totally irrelevant to my enjoyment of the music, which is superb. BUT, seriously, has Gardiner ever produced any recording without some merit????"
Wonderful CD, cheaper elsewhere
Svanur Ptursson | Highland Park, NJ USA | 12/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I first heard of this cd when I heard the glorious El Rorro on a mix of christmas music which I got with a copy of a magazine called Classic CD. I looked everywhere for the cd but had trouble finding it anywhere and even heard from one record store that the cd had been deleted. I checked here on Amazon and saw that it was only available used for $32.50. I seriously considered buying it even for that price.

I was therefore ecstatic when I found it on iTunes for $11.99 and instantly purchased it online. You can find it there, not under the US title but the original UK title which is Once as I Remember. For those who enjoy old English choral music, then this cd can become one of those you will have to listen to every christmas. This is one of mine."