"Candlelight - Seasonal Reflections and Celebrations" is the latest release from John Rutter - A special compilation presenting a collection of music that celebrates the holiday season and wintertime.
Winter, when the earth sleeps, has always been a time of quiet reflection and yet of festivity. The medieval poet who wrote, of the birth of Christ, 'He came all so still' probably had this sense of quietness in mind; but, in another poem of the same period, we are told 'Make we merry both more and less, For now is the time of Christemas'. As a matter of fact, the custom of mid-winter merrymaking was of pagan origin, strongly associated in the northern hemisphere withRead more the Norse gods and the winter solstice, but it was swiftly taken over by the Christian church: from December till February the liturgical calendar is marked by a series of feasts, from Christmas till Candlemas.
The aim of this album is to evoke a sense of the winter season, as reflected in some of the infinitely varied music inspired by it. Christmas inevitably lies at the heart of this melange of sacred and secular, spiritual and convivial, poetic and earthy: the ancient Advent chant of Veni Redemptor gentium expresses the expectation of Christians that Messiah will come as a light shining in winter's darkness; the mystery of Christ's coming is memorably expressed in Victoria's peerless 0 magnum mysterium; Christina Rossetti's poem In the bleak mid-winter, magically set to music by Harold Darke, evokes the scene in the Bethlehem stable. But, on other seasonal themes, Shakespeare has something to say about winter - and human nature - in Blow, blow, thou winter wind ... while the anonymous authors of Wassail and Good ale remind us that seasonal celebrations, down the ages, have been accompanied by feasting and drinking.
Most of the pieces in our Cambridge Singers seasonal tapestry are self-explanatory, but there is one wordless one, the Chanson from my Suite Antique. When I originally wrote it for flute, I did not have any text or season in mind, but the idea later came to me to write words and turn it into a Christmas carol, the Carol of the Children. Since then, I have always associated it with Christmas, even without its text. Another personal association: roses, in Britain, really do sometimes bloom in December, and so, in Of a Rose, a lovely Rose, the image of the Virgin Mary as a rose flowering at Christmas always comes most vividly to life for me when I visit King's College Chapel in the cold, dark days of a Cambridge winter and see the exquisitely carved roses which adorn its interior stonework lit from behind, illuminating the grey chapel like the singing of an angelic choir.
Another Great Christmas AlbumJanuary 18, 2013By Arnold McKay (Wilmington, DE)See All My Reviews"This album was exactly what I was looking for: a mixture of new music and old favorites. I knew I could depend on the Cambridge Singers' and the London Symphonia's usual high calibre performances, and was not disappointed. I was especially happy with the inclusion of some carols I had not heard since I sang them as a member of men and boys choirs in my youth. Rutter's arrangements were superb, and even though I have some of them on previous releases, it was great to have them on a single album. Of course, his own carol, "What Sweeter Music", is my favorite. I highly recommend this album to anyone who appreciates high quality vocal music."Report Abuse
A Candlelight CelebrationJanuary 12, 2013By Joseph Erdeljac (West Chester, PA)See All My Reviews"What a wonderful recording of Christmas selections from many different composers. One would think that this diversity would be disconcerting but it is just the opposite. Everything flows in a harmonious continuum from start to finish. The performances are perfect from one selection to the next. Of particular interest is the version of "O magnum mysterium" which is done in a very slow tempo adding more etherial atmosphere than the usual tempo at which it is often performed."Report Abuse
Peaceful, MagicalJanuary 10, 2013By Carol H. (Arlington, VA)See All My Reviews"If you would like an oasis of peace in the hustle of the holidays, this CD is for you. Beautiful voices and Rutter's exquisite arrangements make this a go-to choice year after year. Classical music lovers and less avid fans alike will love this."Report Abuse