Wells Cathedral Choir - Love Came Down At Christmas: Carols From Wells Cathedral

Published Thursday 13th December 2018
Wells Cathedral Choir - Love Came Down At Christmas: Carols From Wells Cathedral
Wells Cathedral Choir - Love Came Down At Christmas: Carols From Wells Cathedral

STYLE: Choral
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 174157-27857
RELEASE DATE: 2000-07-25

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

We have a dilemma when reviewing this CD as it is, depending on which way we look at it, either a freebie with the Christmas 2018 issue of the BBC Music Magazine, or a super-budget priced release with a magazine attached. Officially the CD is "Volume 27, Number 3 of the BBC Music Magazine Collection" and while each issue of the magazine has, by definition, a brief shelf life, back issues are obtainable from www.classical-music.com and the CD will almost certainly turn up in charity shops soon enough. The cover price at the time of writing is 5.99 so even if you only want the CD it is still good value - and the magazine is always worth a look in its own right - although there are some caveats to this recording. Of the 18 tracks on the disc six have been previously issued on 'Christmas From Wells' and the appallingly titled 'Jingle Wells', both of which received 10 square reviews from this reviewer. So expectations are high and the first thing I noticed was a difference in the audio quality between the excellence of the previous recordings on the Regent label and the slightly less than excellent standard of the new ones. Do not get me wrong, it is not poor quality just a different sound, quite possible due to a different microphone set up or something else of a technical matter. Over the years it is of course inevitable that the sound of a choir changes as choristers come and go and whether it is the older recordings or the newer, Matthew Owens, the master of the choristers at Wells, has kept the highest of standards. The content is suitably varied taking us from the exuberance of William Mathias's "Sir Christmas" to the tranquillity of Berlioz's "The Shepherds' Farewell" and on to the numinous "O Magnum Mysterium" by Morten Lauridson. The title track is John Rutter's popular setting of Christina Rossetti's "Love Came Down At Christmas" and there is first recording with Bob Chilcott's jolly take on "Good King Wenceslas" which I expect will soon be added to the repertoire of many other choirs. Also we hear an organ solo on the same theme with Jeremy Cole playing Matthew Owens' "Toccata on 'Good King Wenceslas'" and later he gives us David Briggs' "Sortie on 'In Dulci Jubil'". So all in all we get a varied programme sung and played very well and at a most affordable price.

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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