WORKS: Carols contemporary and medieval
PERFORMER: Choir of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge/Geoffrey Webber
CATALOGUE NO: DCD34075
It’s not easy to assemble an attractive Christmas programme from relatively unfamiliar music, but this Delphian release does it nicely. Carols by eminent contemporary composers such as Diana Burrell (‘Creator of the Stars of Night’), Judith Bingham (three carols), Howard Skempton (two including the title track) and Robin Holloway (‘Christmas Carol’) are juxtaposed with works from the medieval period.
There are many highlights, but William Sweeney’s Scots dialect setting ‘The Innumerable Christ’ stands out for its daring other-worldliness, as do Stuart MacRae’s bold re-imagining of ‘Adam lay y-bounden’ (its use of ‘period pronunciation’ revivifying an over-familiar text), and the lilting soprano duet ‘Edi beo thu’, whose Marian sentiments joyfully vault across eight centuries. John Fallas’s outstanding booklet essay is a bonus.