Abbey School Choir, Tewkesbury - A Cotswold Christmas

Published Tuesday 25th October 2005
Abbey School Choir, Tewkesbury - A Cotswold Christmas
Abbey School Choir, Tewkesbury - A Cotswold Christmas

STYLE: Orchestral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Regent REGCD219

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Selecting the programme for a Christmas release must be a challenge. There is always a market for the old favourites but being too predictable might be a turn-off. Benjamin Nicholas, the director and conductor of the Abbey School Choir, has got the balance just right. We open with "Once In Royal David's City" with Silas Barke's immaculate treble solo and some excellent work from the tenors and basses when they join and then go into the contrasting "O, Do Not Move" a miniature Ikon of the Nativity by John Tavener. Two very different pieces and both handled supremely well. The contrast between fresh and familiar is continued throughout. We move forward in time from "En Natus Est Emmanuel" by Praetorius to Franz Biebl's setting of "Ave Maria" and Peter Skellern's "So Said The Angel". The choir manage to sound confident on the less familiar pieces without becoming complacent on the standards. Sullivan's "It Came Upon The Midnight Clear" and Holst's "In The Bleak Midwinter" are particularly good but the song that I will keep coming back to is "Long Is The Night", a haunting Ukrainian melody with words by Alick Rowe and a nice solo from Christian Jenkins.

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