STYLE: Choral RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 173778-27654 LABEL: Resonus RES10226 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
Back at the start of 2018 I sang the praises of 'Passion & Polyphony', the debut release of London-based chamber choir Sonoro under conductor Neil Ferris. I could and should repeat myself: once again the singing is top quality, whether a cappella or accompanied by Michael Higgins on the organ, and the audio quality courtesy of Adam Binks is state of the art. Of course the content is different and here we get a good balance between new compositions - some using familiar texts - and new arrangements of old favourites, all sung exceedingly well and with what is already becoming the trademark warm and rounded Sonoro sound. Personally I do not want a programme made up of old favourites - they are favourites for a reason and almost certainly I already own multiple recordings of them. Neither do I want an all new programme: one of the joys of Christmas is hearing - and singing - those much-loved nativity songs and telling yet again that loveliest of stories. Here, as I have said, I think the balance is right. We open with Malcolm Archer's cheerful setting of the medieval text "A Little Child Is There Yborn" followed by Cecilia McDowall's numinous Advent Antiphon "O Oriens", so two new songs that have the potential to become old favourites in time. Paul Spicer's "In A Field As I Lay" rather washed over me and then we meet the first of the established pieces, the familiar Basque carol "The Angel Gabriel", here in an atmospheric arrangement by our organist Michael Higgins. The popular tune is there but not as you have heard it before. I doubt that many congregations will be tackling this but choirs may want to try to rise to the challenge. Higgins does something similar in his arrangement of "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day". I could comment on all 18 songs but I hope I have said enough to give you the flavour of what is here on this enjoyable album: some things are new, some have been revised and refreshed, and there are some more familiar friends but all are worth hearing even if not all will make it into the permanent Christmas repertoire.
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