The Sixteen refresh carol favourites

Harry Christophers and The Sixteen go back to basics with traditional Christmas carols unadorned by overblown modern arrangements

Composer: Schubert, List, Janáček, Rachmaninov 
Repertoire: Traditional Christmas Carol Collection, Vol.2 
Artists: Robert Quinney (org), The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Choral
Label: Coro COR10685

The Music Christophers and The Sixteen go back to basics: traditional Christmas carols (some of which may not be so familiar) unadorned by overblown modern arrangements. The simplicity of these mainly medieval melodies is fleshed out with spare but highly effective harmonies by such musical masters as Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams. 

The Performance The Sixteen sounds as crisp and refreshing as a frosty morning. There’s plenty to enjoy; both sing-along, choir-and-organ numbers: It came upon the midnight clear, Personent hodie and In the bleak midwinter (with the lesser-known melody by Darke) as well as austere plainsong-like beauty in RVW’s The truth from above. There’s tingle factor in the elegant Jesus Christ the apple tree and Adam lay ybounden; Gloucestershire Wassail is as full of joyful anticipation as a brisk walk to the pub on a cold evening. Organist Robert Quinney provides fine improvisations on In dulci jubilo. You can hear that, with O come O come Emmanuel from the same recording, on disc one of your cover CD. 

The Verdict A wide and interesting choice of festive favourites, performed with precise, unsentimental warmth and a sense of occasion by The Sixteen. It’s the perfect disc to play on Christmas morning. 

Want more? If you have Vol.1 in this series already, (COR16043) try the Sixteen’s English carol collection, Hodie (COR16004, excerpts are included on disc one of your cover CD).