Christmas List 2003: A CHRISTMAS COLLECTION
The Rodolfus Choir, directed by Ralph Allwood
HERALD HAVPCD 280
The programme on this disc is a wonderful mixed bag of auditory surprise split into the spoils of Christmastide: Preparations, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Holy Innocents, New Year, Epiphany and Festivities.
The spirited singing and the skilful arrangements bring the kind of seasonal warmth we should expect at the start of this magical time of year. Simon Walley's There is no rose contrasts delightfully with Paul Spicer's version, while Judith Bingham's The clouded heaven, with Nicholas Collon, organ, is a darker contemplation on the Christmas theme. Compare them with the likes of Keith Roberts' swinging arrangement of John Marks' Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, or Robert Rice's rhythmically loose arrangement of Auld lang syne, followed by his charming version of Sir Paul McCartney's number one hit, Wonderful Christmastime, and you get that great sense of versatility.
Ralph Allwood, Precentor and Director of Music at Eton College, who has his own worthy work, A Christmas Blessing and five other arrangements in the programme, truly earns his keep; his control of the vocal forces is nought but magnificent, the smooth choral entries, the careful sibilants and, ultimately, the enchanting performances that characterise this disc mark it out as a must for your collection.
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