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Carols By Candlelight / Ives, Magdalen College Choir

Choir Of Magdalen College Oxford / Ives
Release Date: 11/08/2011 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 2927495  
Composer:  AnonymousRalph Vaughan WilliamsWilliam ByrdCharles Wood,   ... 
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Each autumn I begin my search--actually, it's more waiting than searching--for a new, interestingly programmed choral recording of Christmas music that I can keep close by for frequent listening through the holiday season. It looks like it has arrived with this new release from the excellent Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford and director/composer (under the name Grayston Ives) Bill Ives. Organist Martin Ford also adds fine renditions of several chorale-based solo works by J.S. Bach and Buxtehude in addition to his superbly-wrought choir accompaniments.

The program is well-designed with just enough traditional favorites--Britten's A Hymn to the Virgin; Pearsall's In dulci jubilo;
Read more Vaughan Williams' The Blessed Son of God; Mathias' Sir Christémas; Gardner's Tomorrow shall be my dancing day; Mendelssohn's Hark! the herald angels sing (with the classic Willcocks descant)--to comfortably tie the familiar with the many more, less-commonly heard pieces.

And among these are some gems, from Stainer's sweetly lovely How beautiful upon the mountains, Byrd's charming two-part treble motet An earthly tree (with its occasional echoing effects), and Guerrero's vibrant setting of the St. Luke text Pastores loquebantur, to Reger's enchanting lullaby Mariä Wiegenlied (sung by unison trebles with organ) and two works by Grayston Ives--an arrangement of the Italian carol Ninna nanna di Gèsu bambino, and an original setting for full choir of Sweet was the Song, mined from the same harmonic/melodic vein as Rutter's What sweeter music--not a bad thing!

Needless to say, this choir is always a pleasure to hear, and in repertoire such as this you won't find more musically assured or more tonally concordant interpreters. Those trebles are wonderful, and the whole ensemble is ideally balanced, especially well-captured here in relationship to the organ and to the resonant acoustic of the Magdalen College venue. You will listen to this many times, not only this year, but for years after--and hopefully the Reger and Ives pieces will turn up more often on other choir's Christmas programs. (Happily publishers for all the works are identified.)

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Reviewing original release
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Works on This Recording

1.
Creator alme siderum by Anonymous
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Medieval 
2.
Traditional English Carols (8): no 6, The truth sent from above by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; England 
3.
An earthly tree by William Byrd
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
4.
View me, Lord by Charles Wood
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Romantic 
Written: England 
5.
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1703; Arnstadt, Germany 
6.
I look from afar by Giovanni Palestrina
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Italy 
7.
In adventu: Rorate coeli by Giovanni Palestrina
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Italy 
8.
How beautiful upon the mountains by John Stainer
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Romantic 
Written: England 
9.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel by Thomas Helmore
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
10.
Hymn to the Virgin by Benjamin Britten
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930/1934; England 
11.
The blessed Son of God by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
12.
In dulci jubilo by Anonymous
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 
13.
Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BuxWV 223 by Dietrich Buxtehude
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
14.
Of the Father's heart begotten by Anonymous
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1582; Sweden 
15.
Pastores loquebantur by Francisco Guerrero
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Spain 
16.
Ninna nanna a Gesu by Traditional
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Written: Italy 
17.
Maria Wiegenlied by Traditional
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
18.
Sweet was the song of the Virgin by Traditional
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
19.
Benedicamus Domino by Peter Warlock
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918; England 
20.
Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr', BWV 662 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1723; ?Weimar, Germany 
21.
Sir Christèmas by William Mathias
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Wales, UK 
22.
Tomorrow shall be my dancing day, Op. 75 no 2 by John Gardner
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965; England 
23.
Festgesang "Hark! The herald angels sing" by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Bill Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 

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