Sacred Treasures of Christmas

The London Oratory Schola Cantorum, Charles Cole
Hyperion CDA 68358

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This CD is part of a series recording the liturgical music of the various seasons as presented in the round of services in the London Oratory. St Augustine’s Church Kilburn provides just about the ideal acoustic for recording this lavish Christmas music, providing a pleasing bloom but also allowing us to hear the necessary detail. The choral music comes from throughout Europe and the composers represented include Sweelinck, Giovanni Gabrieli, Hassler, Mouton, Scheidt, Guerrero, Victoria, Palestrina, Lassus, Sheppard, Nanino and Tallis, while the choristers also sing some plainchant with the authority of familiarity. In fact the music covers the celebrations of Christmas, Epiphany and Candlemas, and ranges in mood from the overtly showy to the deeply contemplative. The singers capture the full range of moods in their chosen music, and the director Charles Cole does a superb job in marshalling his large choral forces to produce a sound which can be focussed and intimate, as well as wonderfully opulent. I think there is something profoundly different about a ‘working’ church choir from the small specialist ensembles who also perform this sort of repertoire, not just in their use of boys’ voices and their sheer numbers, but in their approach to the music. This is repertoire they sing every day of their lives as a vital element of church services, and they derive an unparalleled authority as a result. This is a thoroughly enjoyable recording which captures perfectly the joys of the festive season.

D. James Ross

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