Christmas Music - Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford
Christmas is a time when we celebrate long-held traditions: family gatherings, exchanges of presents, snow-covered scenes and images of the baby Jesus lying in a crib surrounded by the adoring shepherds, wise men and Mary and Joseph. Music is a crucial part of this annual festival. There is no shortage of Christmas carol repertoire recorded by Christ Church Cathedral Choir on the Nimbus label, but in this selection we have decided to bring together music that reflects some different aspects of the season. This is music to lift the spirits and transport the listener into a world of mystery.
The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford was founded nearly 500 years ago and has a special and distinctive place within the great English choral tradition. Historically it is set apart from all other collegiate and cathedral choirs since it serves both an Oxford college and a diocese at once, as a unique and celebrated dual foundation. Musically it has become revered for the vibrancy of its collective sound and its artistic flexibility.
'Christmas Music' is the title of a fine CD from the Choir of Christ Church, Oxford under Stephen Darlington. The choice of music is of wholly exceptional interest, for almost all of the 14selections date from before 1750, most of it from the 16th century, with two relatively recent works- Poulenc's Salve Regina, and William Mathias's Ave Rex carol sequence. The selection is considerably wider than that on the King's CD, and the magnificent Christ Church, Oxford choir is as much at home in the plainsong hymn, 'A solis ortus cardine' as it is in Mathias's demanding choral suite. There are no 'traditional' carols on this disc, but its musical qualities are of the highest. This choir is of the very front rank, and, as the recording quality is immaculate, the CD is strongly recommended.
"Superb meld of ancient and modern."
“… new release of Christmas Music, from Nimbus, by one of our finest choirs the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford under their Director, Stephen Darlington. What is particularly attractive about this new disc is that it avoids the usual selection of Christmas carols and, instead, brings us some of the finest sacred Christmas choral works from the 16th to the 20th century… There’s nothing like an English Cathedral or Collegiate Choir at Christmas and here is one of the finest we have. There are informative notes by Stephen Darlington but no texts. With singing as fine as this it hardly matters. This should be at the top of your Christmas music list.”
“This is an excellent compilation of Christmas music that shows considerable imagination and variety. From the transcendent sound of William Byrd to the more pungent William Mathias by way of an urbane contribution from Francis Poulenc, this CD offers an exciting and thoughtful contrast to many run-of-the-mill seasonal offerings… In the round, this is a most refreshing contribution to the very large number of Christmas CDs currently available. The singing is always impressive and the choice of programme inspiring.”