Ross: Lux de caelo. Music for Christmas (24/96 FLAC)
Ross: Lux de caelo. Music for Christmas (24/96 FLAC)

Performer: Choir of Clare College, Jamie Campbell, David Miller, Peter Harrison
Orchestra: The Dmitri Ensemble
Conductor: Graham Ross
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Label: Harmonia Mundi
Size: 1.09 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. A boy was born Op.3 (theme) (Benjamin Britten)
02. A babe is born (William Mathias)
03. Frohlocket ihr Volker auf Erden Op.79, No.1 ‘Weihnachten’ (Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy)
04. The truth from above (Trad. Herefordshire Carol, arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams)
05. Gabriel’s Message (Trad. Old Basque Carol, arr. Edgar Pettman)
06. Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern (Michael Praetorius)
07. Quem pastores laudavere (Michael Praetorius)
08. Es ist ein’ Ros’ entsprungen (Anon., harm. Michael Praetorius)
09. In dulci jubilo BWV 368 (Johann Sebastian Bach)
10. In dulci jubilo a 8 (Michael Praetorius)
11. Coventry Carol Op.77, No.4 (Giles Swayne)
12. A Hymn to the Mother of God (John Tavener)
13. Lullay, my liking (Graham Ross)
14. Riu, riu, chiu (Trad. Spanish, arr. Noah Greenberg)
15. Tu scendi dalle stelle (Trad. Italian, arr. Graham Ross)
16. Still, still, still (Trad. Austrian, arr. Graham Ross)
17. Dormi, Jesu (Anton Webern)
18. Quelle est cette odeur agreable? (Trad. French, arr. David Willcocks)
19. Nativity Carol (John Rutter)
20. Friede auf Erden (Arnold Schoenberg)

This is one of a group of releases by long-established British collegiate and cathedral choirs to update their repertory a bit in the venerable medium of the Christmas album, and it may be the best of the bunch. Director Graham Ross picks a program that shifts stylistic perspectives several times, but is held together by the fact that the pieces are basically all carols (with the possible exception of the final Friede auf Erde of Schoenberg, certainly a desirable inclusion at the moment). Ross’ segues are novel and even startling, but the pieces are linked together convincingly: try that from the familiar eight-voice Michael Praetorius setting of In dulci jubilo (track 10) to the modern treatment of the Coventry Carol by Giles Swayne that flows. The program stretches from traditional tunes through Bach, Mendelssohn, Schoenberg, and Webern to John Rutter, happily coexisting with the more atonal stuff; it’s really a grand survey of what the idea of the Christmas carol has meant over hundreds of years. The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, fluctuating here between about 20 and 27 voices, has a clear, appealing sound, and the small Dmitri Ensemble is of a piece with the singers. A major winner in the British holiday album genre.

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