A real treasure
David A. Beamer | Clawson, MI United States | 10/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those not familiar with Elmer Iseler and his choir, this CD will be a real find. Iseler has been the dean of Canadian choral singing for decades. He toured with this professional choir, usually consisting of about 24 voices. The selections here run a wide gamut of styles, many being a capella, others accompanied by brass or a harp.There are some typical Christmas items here, others that are dressed up in new clothes, and a few you won't find on many other Christmas CDs. For example, this CD has the ONLY version of The Twelve Days of Christmas that I actually enjoy listening to -- the Healey Willan arrangement zips by in about 3 1/2 minutes, with the altos, tenors, and basses providing only hummed and oohed accompaniments until the very last line. One of the real highlights of the CD is The Huron Carol, a tune and poem based on music of the Huron Indians (in what is now Ontario) from the mid-1600's. The arrangement and performance are hauntingly marvelous. (And a bit better than the able performance done by Rutter and his Cambridge Singers.)As for the "regular" fare, these each are imbued with a certain specialness here. Examples are the interplay between the choir and brass in God Rest You Merry Gentleman, the lightness of Masters in this Hall (a capella), the delightful simplicity of The Echo Carol, and the interesting twists and turns of the Variations on the Sussex Carol. Finally, there are a couple of items that are just plain fun. The arrangement of Deck The Halls accompanied by the Toronto Brass Society gives the impression that the arranger (and/or performers) gradually get, shall we say, a bit lubricated. And the rhythmic surprises of Harry Somers' arrangement of We Wish You a Merry Christmas are a real treat.There's not a single dud track on this CD, and there are very few Christmas CDs that I can say that about. Highly recommended."