Nova! Nova!

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Coviello
WORKS: Christmas Carols from Europe
PERFORMER: The Playfords
CATALOGUE NO: COV 21012

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The Playfords, essentially a medieval folk group, build their arrangements of 14th- to 18th-century Christmas carols through experimentation and improvisation with the source material. Björn Wenner has a pleasingly conversational tenor, pitched somewhere between the formality of art-song and a more vernacular delivery. His voice, plus the group’s intimate accompaniment featuring recorder, baroque violin and guitar, with struck percussion, make its ‘Veni, veni Emmanuel’ a more plangent, melancholy experience than usual. There are chirpy, up-tempo numbers, too, (‘Fum, fum, fum’, ‘Riu, riu, chiu’) in this quirky, endearingly novel issue. Terry Blain