The King's Singers - Christmas Songbook

Published Tuesday 1st November 2016
The King's Singers - Christmas Songbook
The King's Singers - Christmas Songbook

STYLE: Choral
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Signum Classics SIGCD459

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

World-renowned a cappella group The King's Singers follow their 2013 'Great American Songbook' album with the Christmas equivalent, on a disc that pays homage to the group's roots whilst acknowledging their current passion for Rat Pack style swing. It goes without saying that the vocal expertise on show is as good as ever and while group members come and go the sound remains the same. The one-line review is simple: if you like The King's Singers then this will be your favourite Christmas release of 2016. Those of us who appreciate traditional choral singing will always be impressed by The King's Singers but some of the arrangements by some of the group's favourites, including Robert Rice, Keith Roberts and Alexander L'Estrange, take the style way beyond "traditional" - which is said as an observation and not a criticism. "Frosty vs. Rudolph: The Re-boot" takes two well-known seasonal favourites and in Rice's arrangement shakes them up like a snow-globe. The programme is divided between sacred and secular material so we open with "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" and move straight into Gustav Holst's "In The Bleak Midwinter". Both are sung well but only one will feature in my church's carol service. Again, this is an observation not a criticism. Christmas would not be the same without "White Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland" - both included - but the core programme, at least for this reviewer, has to be sacred and of the 16 tracks on this CD only seven are sacred - and that is counting the splendid "The Carol Of The Bells" and the more traditional "We Wish You A Merry Christmas", which push the definition of sacred music to its limit - and also the Austrian carol "Still, Still, Still", some of which is sung in German. With the wonders of a programmable CD player I can listen to the songs in any order I like. There are some here that I will treasure, such as "It Came Upon The Midnight Clear", some that will continue to raise a smile, and one or two that will be skipped. That Christmas cliché just has to be used: the album is like a box of chocolates with some that everyone will try to grab and others that no one wants.

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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