- All Bells in Paradise, carol for chorus & organ
This is certainly not the only collection of popular Christmas carols from one of Britain's venerable collegiate choirs, and the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, conducted then as now by Stephen Cleobury, has even issued one in the past, containing many of the carols sung here. Are there distinctive strengths? Absolutely. One is the mostly fresh set of arrangements, by Cleobury and others, that enliven the material with chromaticism, often in a slightly humorous way. And then there's the presence of a couple of new hymns, one of which, Bob Chilcott's "The Shepherd's Carol," just might turn into a permanent addition to the repertory. (Both that and a carol by Rutter were commissioned by the choir.) But above the individual attractions looms the solid quality of the recording. Cleobury gets from the choristers an ideal balance of purity, conviction, musical sensitivity, and a bit of gutsiness, and the whole program brings a feeling of newness to the most familiar musical materials of all. Those in search of a Christmas carol recording from one of Britain's top collegiate choirs can buy with confidence here.