Impeccably performed, adds some variety to your collection.
Paul Martin | Albuquerque, NM | 12/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The King's Singers, a spinoff of the famous choir of Kings College, Cambridge, is a unique ensemble. Technically a close harmony ensemble, the addition of the countertenor gives the group a unique sound. While they are capable of unparalleled beauty, they can't play it straight for too long, and launch into humorous parodies and inventive variations when you least expect it.Every christmas album draws from a large pool of songs we all expect to hear. The better ones add some variety, which is present here in spades not only in the material but in the arrangements. Unique features of this recording are a number of non-English carols including Gaudete and Riu, riu, chiu, as well as an original variation on Eine Kleine Nachtmusique (hence the album title). The use of dissonance in their arrangement of the Coventry Carol is a bit unsettling to these ears, but does not detract from the album as a whole.Reviews of Christmas albums often contain the phrase, "If you could only buy one album . . ". Well, if you could only buy one album, this is probably not the one. This is not your father's Christmas CD. On the other hand, some of us appreciate a little variety now and then, and the quality of the singing here is so impeccable that this album is impossible to pass up."
Among My Top 10 Christmas Recordings
K. B. Martin | New York, NY | 12/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"King's Singers maintains the highest standard for all those who aspire to create spine-tingling a cappella harmony. Somewhat akin to the small number of their peers worldwide, no style seems off limits to their abilities. But certain aspects set the King's Singers apart. Perhaps it is their early and consistent training in the English choral discipline, or the many, years of touring together in one combination or other. Their most remarkable quality is their quintessentially English sound -- the pipe-like tone produced especially in the mid- to upper registers -- that is at once remarkably free of vibrato, but still alive with overtones. If one listens closely to the solo parts, it becomes evident: the sound isn't produced merely by excellent group intervallic intonation, but by individual voices capable of producing overtones. Thus, it's the sound you can't hear that takes your breath away.Because the recording is so excellent on the whole, one disappointment stands out: I wish that Coventry Carol had been saved for another recording. The dissonances conjure up distressing images at odds with the overall effect they seem to have been trying to accomplish with the recording, and I can certainly imagine that in another context, I might have been interested and emotionally moved, rather than unsettled and annoyed. In any case, this has remained for years one of my favorite Christmas recordings, and I have to give it 5 stars."
K. B. Martin | 12/14/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I love this cd. It is the King's Singers doing what they do best - close harmony with feeling and depth in performance. The only caveat I have with this cd is Patapan and Farandole. It gets a bit rambunctious and I'm not fond of the loud dissonances. It seems of out keeping with the rest of the cd, but just program your cd player to skip it. This is one wonderful Christmas cd."
Superb performance--a holiday staple
C. Manning | Washington, DC | 11/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is a staple in our family's Christmas collection. A few very dissonant pieces aside, the album fits perfectly into the category of unforgettable Christmas albums."I Wonder As I Wander" and "Simple Gifts" are the King Singers at their very finest!"
A voice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 11/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"WELL!!!THIS IS DIFFERENT!!!!!
The King's Singers come to us steeped in the 500 year old English tradition of choral singing; and that's fine with me.!!!There are 6 singers in this group (the personnel change from time to time)namely: Jeremy Jackman and Alastair Hume (countertenors)- Robert Chilcott (tenor)- Bruce Russell and Simon Carrington (baritones) and Stephen Connolly (bass). They are very capably accompanied by the City of London Sinfonia and Brass Quintet conducted by Richard Hickox.
An added PLUS is the great Kiri Te Kanawa who sings an arrangement by Daryl Runswick entitled "A Little Christmas Music (Medley a la Mozart)". It's a hodge-podge of Mozart melodies sewn together in a rather haphazard manner, and meant to be humorous. I guess this type of composition does not appeal to me personally, and I'm sorry that Kiri's glorious voice was wasted. However, that's only MY opinion; I am certain others may disagree.
This album is really a mixture of Christmas tunes and that's partly what makes it interesting. And, of course it is masterfully sung by the King's singers;I enjoy all their discs; especially the recording of Gilbert and Sullivan tunes. Some of the arrangements on this disc are somewhat esoteric, and I'm not too fond of the very STRANGE arrangement (again by Daryl Runswick) of the Coventry Carol, but 'to each his own'. Their opening selection:"Here We Come a-wassailing" (arr. Robert Chilcott) is a great opening number and I must say that it's the best arrangement I have ever heard of this selection.
Let's face it:the KING'S SINGERS are perfection. But don't forget our American group:Chanticleer."