A Christmas Celebration
"...tantalisingly close to the perfect recording..."
Christmas is a time for the family, and one of the joys of the Hallé’s annual Christmas concerts is the way that they unite the whole Hallé musical family: not just the Hallé and Hallé Choir, but the Hallé’s superb Youth Choir and Children’s Choir too. That gives a special flavour to this annual Manchester tradition.
This album contains a delightful collection of popular, ever-loved and newly discovered seasonal gems, covering orchestral and choral works from across the Christmas ages.
Alongside works by composers acclaimed for their film and TV music, Hollywood’s own John Williams and Nigel Hess (Ladies in Lavender; Hetty Wainthropp Investigates), are choral must-haves including seasonal gems from British composers John Rutter and John Gardner. The orchestra glitters in Noel!, specially written for Hallé and conductor Stephen Bell and described as a ‘Festive Romp for Organ and Orchestra’, and in American favourite Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson.
This is an album that has time for both wintry magic and quiet contemplation and which also includes songs that sparkle as brilliantly as the lights on any tree. The Hallé carol concerts are a joyous celebration of seasonal tradition in the fullest sense: of Christmas past, present – and future. Enjoy!
Professionalism is the name of the game on Hallé’s A Christmas Celebration, even if the vast majority of performers involved come from the orchestras remarkable pyramid of amateur choral ensembles. The whole enterprise is slick Nigel Hess’s A Christmas Overture and Richard Bissill’s A Christmas Carnival have plenty of cinematic wonder and orchestral sparkle) but deeply moving, exuding the warm glow that the Hallé ‘family’ emits over Manchester at this time of year. Even with massed singers, the agile performance of John Gardner’s Tomorrow shall be my dancing day gets tantalisingly close to the perfect recording I’ve been attempting to seek out for decades. And it’s great to properly hear the Bridgewater Hall’s distinctive Marcussen organ too. In Roderick Elm’s madcap Yule-themed concerto Noel! Andrew Mellor, Gramophone December 2016