Notes and Editorial Reviews
Gothic Voices’ reputation for the originality of its programming is cemented with its first recording of medieval Christmas music, in which Julian Podger reimagines a fifteenth-century carol evening. Mirroring the modern practice of performing mostly music from the preceding centuries alongside some contemporary repertoire, the programme includes late medieval English carols, chant, mono-and polyphonic songs and motets for the Advent and Christmas season, focusing on Mary, her Annunciation and the birth of Jesus. Larger-scale festive motets and mass movements by English late medieval celebrities John Dunstaple and Leonel Power also feature. The ‘evening’ concludes with a summons to wake up to the significance of Christmas, with the conductus callResonet, intonetintroducing the carols Nowell synge we bothe al and som and Nowell: Owt of your slepe and the great Christmas chant Puer natus est nobis, arranged here into a joyful finale. This recording has been widely anticipated since a performance of this repertoire in December 2016 was chosen by BBC Music Magazine as its number one unmissable Christmas event.
It seems extraordinary that this should be Gothic Voices’ first Christmas-themed album; nevertheless, it has been worth the wait to hear these wellknown works performed by this ensemble. Their textures are always buoyant: listen for the fourth verse, which describes the Virgin’s swollen womb, where they use an atmospheric vocalised drone.