A selection of carols for Christmas
Marlborough College Chapel Choir directed by Robin Nelson with Ian Crabbe (organ)
Reviewed: December 2001
The market is annually inundated with Christmas albums of one sort or another – here is yet another from the Marlborough College Chapel Choir.
Heaven only knows how many times little classics such as Adam lay y bounden (Boris Ord), I sing of a Maiden (Patrick Hadley) and In the bleak mid-winter (Harold Darke) have been recorded. On this CD, they and the more unusual items included are sung with feeling and panache and are certainly worth a listen for those not over-stocked with such things.
In addition there are at least two minor masterpieces: Kenneth Leighton’s Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child and Howells A Spotless Rose. Then there’s quite a little discovery, the three-minute Hymn a la Vierge by the late Pierre Villette, which is nothing less than a little gem! Its harmonies, verging on the Messiaenic at times, cannot be easy to sing – it is beautifully done in this performance.
Robin Nelson’s own carols follow on in a typical English way, a sort of John Rutterish wistfulness combined with the rhythmic verve of William Mathias – both composers, it really goes without saying, are represented on this disc – and prove pleasant; the Marlborough Choir obviously enjoy singing them.
As often with such releases, this is not perhaps something to listen to in one sitting. However, as a dip-into to accompany the Christmas festivities, this release is easily recommended.


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