Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Monday, November 2, 2015

A top-tier Christmas choral CD

February 1, 2015:

A postal snafu delayed this disc, so I didn’t get to hear it until the New Year. This gives me the chance to listen to the music more objectively, without being under the influence of candy canes and eggnog. The verdict: this is a very, very good choir. Noel Edison leads the Elora Festival Singers, whose members represent the core of the superb Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, in new versions of old favourites as well as some of the standard arrangements we know from BBC Radio 3’s Christmas Eve broadcast of the Festival of Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge. This Naxos disc represents the highest tier of Christmas choral discs. A number of songs feature important organ parts, which Michael Bloss handles with aplomb. An excellent example is the arrangement of The Holly and the Ivy by Stuart Thompson which won The Times carol competition in 2011. The program provides diversity in period, mood and texture. It’s traditional without being cliched.

I often comment on the excellent sound that Norbert Kraft and Bonnie Silver provide to Naxos instrumental, chamber and choral CDs through their production, engineering and editing, and it’s nice to see other reviews mentioning their contribution. Great sound begins with the choice of venue from amongst the best-sounding churches in the Greater Toronto area. St. John’s Church in the village of Elora, home of the Elora Festival since 1980, provides home field advantage for Noel Edison and his choir, and it’s evident that these voices sound their best in this space. This disc is very highly recommended. Merry Christmas, everyone!

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