Matthew Owens Wells Cathedral Choir - Jingle Wells

Published Monday 15th October 2012
Matthew Owens Wells Cathedral Choir - Jingle Wells
Matthew Owens Wells Cathedral Choir - Jingle Wells

STYLE: Choral
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
LABEL: Regent REGCD399

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

According to Gramophone magazine Wells Cathedral Choir is the best choir with children in the world and the sixth best overall - and who are we to disagree? This is one of the most joyful Christmas albums that has come my way in many a year. The opening and, I suppose, title track, if we overlook the corny pun, is "Jingle Bells" but this is a fresh, exhilarating arrangement by Ralph Allwood with the voices coming at us from all directions, the snow flying into our faces and the gallop almost but never quite going out of control. We then slow down and hear the first of two John Rutter compositions, "Star Carol" with his "Candlelight Carol" coming later in the programme. We get two debut recordings, Sir Philip Ledger's "The Voice Of The Angel Gabriel" and Owain Park's "Cradle Lullaby", some old favourites, both sacred and secular, including Peter Warlock's "Bethlehem Down" and Mel Torme's "Christmas Song" which is better known by its opening line: "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire". Matthew Owens, the organist and Master of the Choristers, gives us two interesting new arrangements of old favourites "The Holly And The Ivy" along with "Silent Night". Neither will displace the usual tunes but both are well worth hearing as is my personal favourite, Eric Whitacre's "Lux Aurumque" which features some stunning choral singing and a noteworthy solo from Finn Lacey. In all, this is an unusual and festive collection of Christmas music and when we think that Wells is the smallest city in England with a population of about 13,000 and yet it is home to one of the finest choirs in the world we should be even more impressed.

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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