This One You Have To Decide For Yourself
Dr. Christopher Coleman | HONG KONG | 12/22/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Merry Christmas, everyone! Here's a Christmas CD from the male vocal ensemble The Gents, from the Netherlands. It's full of terrific performances and slick Hollywood-type arrangements; Sammy Kahn's Let it Snow is representative of the disc itself. But I have to admit, this is definitely not everyone's cup of tea--listen to what Amazon have provided for White Christmas and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and judge on that basis. What the Gents, their arrangers and backing ensembles have done on this disc they've done tremendously well, there's no mistake about that. But some people just don't like the sound of a male alto. Did you find those selections exalting, or weird? If the former, this is the disc for you. If the latter, avoid this one entirely. Most of the pieces on the disc are Christmas standards of the sort you might find on a Barbra Streisand Holiday special-Winter Wonderland, Sleigh Ride, White Christmas and the like. The standards are spiced with a few more recent pieces and some quite old ones in modern dress. Howard Blake's Walking in the Air, which you might know from The Snowman, is one of the best tracks, where the use of the male alto probably works for everyone, since the song is meant for a boy soprano.The backing players are the Rubens String Quartet, the Marimba Quartet Carrfour, and Maxkym Minakov, all of whom do a terrific job. There's only one real miscue on the CD for me, and that's the weird arrangement of Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime. I think it's a pretty horrid song in the first place-definitely not McCartney's best work-and the a cappella arrangement is a valiant effort but just seems a little nuts. Hopefully you'll find it full of seasonal humor, but I'm more of a Scrouge about it. My favorite is the arrangement of Gaudete Christus est natus, from the 1400's. The Gents start straight, but gradually add the marimba quartet for a wonderfully rich sound, complemented by new counterpoints and body percussion!"
nancy rane | madison, wisconsin | 12/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"this music literally took my breath away and left my heart pounding. exquiste harmonies that are almost heartbreaking. this is the first time i have heard this group. they are amazing!"