Choir Of Clare College, Cambridge , The Dmitri Ensemble, Graham Ross - Lux De Caelo: Music For Christmas

Published Tuesday 25th November 2014
Choir Of Clare College, Cambridge , The Dmitri Ensemble, Graham Ross - Lux De Caelo: Music For Christmas
Choir Of Clare College, Cambridge , The Dmitri Ensemble, Graham Ross - Lux De Caelo: Music For Christmas

STYLE: Choral
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Harmonia Mundi HMU907615

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

This is a most welcome follow-up to 2013's 'Veni Emmanuel: Music For Advent', taking us on an interesting and enjoyable tour through time and around Europe that showcases some of the many special pieces of choral music written to celebrate this special time in the church calendar. We open with Benjamin Britten's "A Boy Was Born" and William Mathias's "A Babe Is Born" which immediately point out how different composers can approach the same theme and also tells us that the content on this disc is, for want of a better word, challenging. By this I mean we would not expect any of this music to be sung by congregations at Midnight Mass and indeed many parish choirs would be out of their depth here. This is performance music and under Graham Ross the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble give us the music as it was intended to be heard. It is fascinating to follow the choir from an established classic such as Bach's "In Dulci Jubilo" straight into a world-premiere recording of Giles Swayne's setting of "Coventry Carol" and then on to John Tavener's "Hymn To The Mother Of God". However the next piece, another world-premiere, does not work for me. This is "Lullay, My Liking" by Graham Ross which just goes to show that you cannot get everything right. Two other songs by Ross, an arrangement of the Austrian carol "Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle" and his own "Still, Still, Still" are both highlights. We close with Clare College old boy John Rutter's charming "Nativity Carol" and then, for me, the anti-climatic "Friede Auf Erden" by Arnold Schoenberg. The unifying factor in this collection is the superb singing of both choir and soloists and while I have been less than enthusiastic over some tracks the hits far outweigh the misses.

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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