"I heard a few snippets from Carols and Capers at one point, and was not totaly impressed - however, when looking for Christmas music this year, I decided that, since I like Steeleye Span, and adore Maddy Prior's solo work, I could do worse than to give her Carnival Band albums a try; sometimes a 30 second snippet doesn't give you the real feel of the music, or the appeal. When I noticed that A Tapestry of Carols had "The Angel Gabriel" on it, I decided to take the plunge and snap it up.Well, by the end of the first track, (which, after a few listens, became one of my *least* favourite tracks), I had decided this album was a definite keeper. Maddy's voice is in prime form; slipping easily over the extended Glorias in "Ding Dong Merrily on High" and "Angels from the Realms of Glory", and redeeming a rather somber version of "the Coventry Carol" (Which has become a bit tired to my ear, so many people seem to be recording it.)As for the backing band... These were all unknown names to me, and I had no idea what to expect from them. The arrangements are spectacular; from the twinkling sound of the glockenspiel in "Ding Dong Merrily on High", to the traditional vigour of "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen", to the understated and somber wordless singing in "the Angel Gabriel" - a version to compete with the one that made me love that carol in the first place - to the performance of "Angels From the Realms of Glory" (Usually sung here in Canada as "Angels We Have heard on High") which was one of the real surprises of this album - this is not your typical church music! But it works, oh, does it work; a wonderful departure from the usual, and from the rest of the album, too.There were other surprises, other rewards, in the singing, the songs, and the arrangements; some subtle, some wide open joyous. This is my new Christmas favourite."
Simply the Best Ever Christmas Album!
Michael Robinson | Coldstream, British Columbia Canada | 12/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Carols and Capers" and "Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh" (released just before Christmas 2002 by Maddy and the Carnival Band) may be brilliant, but a "Tapestry of Carols" is simply the best!
I've had "A Tapestry of Carols" for twelve long years and it still sends a shiver down my spine when December rolls around again. But, why? True, there are some less well known carols on the album such as, "The Angel Gabriel","The Sans Day Carol" and "Personent Hodie", but there's also "God Rest You Merry Gentleman", "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and others that have been recorded thousands of times. Well, according to the insert notes, Maddy and the Carnival band "deliberately shut out all memories of cathedral choirs, brass bands and supermarket jingles" in the making of the album. As one reviewer in a Canadian newspaper put it, when you listen to "A Tapestry of Carols, you actually feel that a saviour has been born!"
Close your eyes while you listen to "Angels From the Realms of Glory", and chances are, you'll see the heavenly host and the humble shepherds doing cosmic cartwheels out in the fields. If you've forgotten what Christmas is all about, crank up the volume on "Rejoice and be Merry" - you'll soon recall that it's "the birthday of Jesus our King!""
English Folk Christmas - Revisited
esniii | Ardmore, PA USA | 12/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This a really a wonderfully refreshing Christams album, one that never grows old, year after year, listening after listening. I love to pull this out every year and even after I've listened to some of the alums once and hidden them away for another year I'll leave this recording out a while longer. Maddy Prior's voice sounds more lively than on some of her other traditional recordings with Steeleye Span; the combination of musicians making up the Carnival Band make up a lively backing for her. It's an album I tried to steal from my parents and couldn't get away from them! I had to buy my own copy and I'm sure you'll be glad once you get your own copy. A little-known seasonal classic. One minor quip - neither the album nor the Amazon posting correctly credit the composer for It Came Upon the Midnight Clear; it should be Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert & Sullivan), not Willis who composed the more familiar American version of the carol."
Brilliant and clear
shri | Redmond, WA USA | 08/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this CD on a lark, based on prior experience with Maddy Prior. That was fifteen years ago, and it has been a Christmas staple in our house ever since. A brilliant piece of work, carefully crafted and beautifully executed, producing a clear vision of the holiday season like a cold, clear winter night brings out the stars. This is not a crushingly religious work, but one that lifts and then soars. The arrangements are sparse but full and rich, with a focus on the vocals. Brilliant and clear. Top recommendation."
A favorite forever
P. T. Tressel | Minneapolis, MN USA | 12/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"More than a decade ago, I spent weeks trying to track this disk down in pre-online shopping days and after literally months got one from the distributor on Long Island. We have since worn out the old disk and ordered a new one. I was convinced it would be unavailable. Nooooo! Amazon is amazing, it took seconds to find it and a minute to buy it.
It is t h e favorite, cherished Christmas CD in our household. Maddy's voice is singular and a delight. The combination of her folk-style warmth with the Carnival Band's interesting and fun backups that sound like renaissance dances will transport you into Christmas like no other disk and make you smile. None of the pomp of some disks and none of the smarm of those 'holiday' favorites.
For example: Angels from the Realms of Glory is done in an arrangement that sounds like a hoe-down. Seriously great."