STYLE: Choral RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 147257- LABEL: Harmonia Mundi HMC902170 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
There is more than one hour of music to enjoy here but for this reviewer it took a little while to grip. The singing is superlative throughout being totally unaccompanied and full of expression so that even when we are unfamiliar with the texts we can understand the emotion. Perhaps it is this unfamiliarity that held me back as, other than the closing "Stille Nacht!" (that's "Silent Night") these is nothing here that I would expect to use congregationally during any of our Advent and Christmas services. It was only at Part's "Magnificat" that my ears pricked up. No, we do not sing the Magnificat at my home church but at last here was a text with which I am familiar and Part's setting of it is, for want of a better word, magnificent and the singing here reached even greater heights. This was followed by Bruckner's "Ave Maria, Virge Jesse" and Poulenc's ""Salve Regina" both of which I enjoyed very much and which made me think that perhaps I appreciate Latin more than German, an idea confirmed by Praetorius's "In Dulce Jubilo" and then challenged by the same composer's "Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen". Fear not, full translations are provided in the interesting CD booklet and over the 70 minutes the highs far outweigh the lows. If you appreciate acappella singing and want to widen your knowledge of Christmas music this is well worth hearing.
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