REVIEWS: Christmas Carols, Carols from New College , Christmas Brass
The MHS Review 390 Vol. 11 No.12 1987
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Barbara Zuck, ''Classic Discoveries'' The Columbus Dispatch (December 15, 1985)
Christmas Carols: Scottish National Orchestra Chorus; Scottish National Orchestra; John Currie, Conductor
Carols from New College: Choir of New College, Oxford; Edward Higginbottom, Director
Christmas Brass: The Galliard Brass Ensemble with Guest Artists; Richard Price, Conductor
For those who love the sound of Christmas music sung by a large choir and full orchestra, this (Christmas Carols) is a terrific selection. Even though you can't understand all the words (the recording sounds like it might have been made in a huge church), the chorus sings lightly and the orchestra plays agilely, so heft and reverberation are minimized. Selections include the obvious O Come, All Ye Faithful and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, but also some lesser known delights like Past Three O'Clock and Love Came Down at Christmas. A few arrangements by conductor John Currie strike refreshingly original chords.
For those who adore the unique sound of an authentic British boys' and men's choir, MHS has a second collection of carols (Carols from New College). While there is less reverberation on this release than on that by the Scottish National forces, the choir's enunciation also is poor. Without orchestral interludes, the Choir of New College, Oxford (either a cappella or with organ) fits more songs onto two album sides. This disc also includes more of the popular favorites, such as In Dulci Jubilo, In the Bleak Midwinter, and There Is No Rose of Such Virtue.
For those who relish the rich Christmas repertoire done up in brass, MHS also presents this release (Christmas Brass), which perhaps is more for the genuine lover of classical music. On the other hand, those looking for an easy entry into the world of classical music might just find this album appealing. The Galliard Brass Ensemble presents short selections by the likes of Giovanni Gabrieli, Praetorius, J.S. Bach, and Pachelbel. The Galliard's mellow sound, always well-articulated, only enhances some of the great music of the past.