Choir Of Bath Abbey, Peter King - Christmas From Bath

Published Wednesday 14th November 2012
Choir Of Bath Abbey, Peter King - Christmas From Bath
Choir Of Bath Abbey, Peter King - Christmas From Bath

STYLE: Choral
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
LABEL: Regent REGCD390

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

There are very many good things to say about this CD, the latest in Regent Records' growing series of 'Christmas From . . .' releases, but it is the penultimate track that makes me want to stand up and shout with joy. It is a setting of G K Chesterton's deceptively simple "The Christ-Child" which uses a series of similes to depict the Christ-child almost as though he were a star ("His hair was like a light . . .His hair was like a star . . ."). It could almost be a nursery rhyme, even down to the hidden message that perhaps only children are wise enough to heed. And then we hear the music by Gabriel Jackson. It was first performed by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge in 2009 and is well worth hearing again. Jackson catches the mood superbly and the Choir absolutely nail what must be a very challenging piece to sing. Rachel Arnold takes the treble solo to another level. This is a truly wonderful performance of a lovely work . . . and we still have another 23 songs to consider. The selection of material is admirable with a good mix of established favourites alongside less familiar pieces that takes us from quiet lullabies ("Away In A Manger") to full-voiced rejoicing ("Hark The Herald Angels Sing") all captured very cleanly by producer Gary Cole in the stunning acoustic of Bath Abbey. Many of the carols featured on this recording are original compositions, or new arrangements, from the latest 'Carols For Choirs' collection (Volume Five) and are receiving their first recording on this disc. The featured arranger with six contributions is Bob Chilcott and those familiar with his work will know what to expect: Chilcott can be challenging for the choir but once it has mastered his arrangement it can be deeply rewarding for both singers and listeners. Bath Abbey Choir under Peter King is a large, mixed ensemble that generates a satisfying, full-blooded sound, ably complemented by Marcus Sealy on the organ. Frankly, "The Christ-child" is worth the price on its own but the remaining 68 minutes represent both quantity as well as quality of the highest order.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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