Give yourself a real treat for Christmas
scott | Calgary, Canada | 05/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love Christmas music. I always have, and look forward to getting all my favourites out all autumn. There are a few cheesy, modern albums I get some fun out of, but as a fan of early music, I really cherish those recordings of Christmas music that are faithful to the spirit of the times from when the music was written. I do not go in for the modern, pop-inspired arrangements at all. Thus, I am always on the search for great performances of old Christmas music that I don't know, and this album is one of the best ever made!
Peter Holman as taken the neglected repertoire of Christmas music from English parish churches in the Georgian period, and reproduced it in all its provincial splendor. A lot of the texts are familiar; While shepherds watched their flocks, Hark! the herald angels sing, and Angels from the realm of glory, but the musical settings will be totally new to you, I am sure. I won't go into specifics, but everything here is totally pleasing, and breathes new life into these oft-heard words. There were some really talented composers toiling away in the parish churches of the English country-side in the generation after Handel.
The performances are totally sympathetic, and match the spirit of the music perfectly. I'm sure this music probably never sounded this good when it was first heard, but Holman and his friends never make it sound too polished or professional. There is just a hint of the rustic, amateur feel that would have been the situation in the 18th century.
I cannot praise this CD enough, and implore you to get it. There is a sequel which is equally good called "Nativity". Get it too. Christmas never sounded so wonderful."