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Choir of King's College, Cambridge|Carols from King's College, Cambridge

Carols from King's College, Cambridge

Choir of King's College, Cambridge

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The repertory of British Christmas releases, like Britain itself, is much more diverse than it used to be, and the marketplace is replete with holiday albums featuring contemporary compositions, pieces drawn from world cultures, and more. That, paradoxically, may have created an opening for Warner Classics' 2022 release Carols from King's College Cambridge, which is a reissue collection of old, perhaps "classic" recordings and a purely traditional outing, with almost all the carols well-known to anyone with the slightest acquaintance with the Christmas music of the Anglophone sphere. The album made classical best-seller lists in late 2022. The arrangements used are venerable, many dating back to the choir's 1960s director, David Willcocks, and even further, to John Stainer, and there are some chorus-brass-organ readings featuring the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, the group of choice in the 1960s and '70s. It is a classic sound, and that seems to be just what many listeners wanted. Sample one of the traditional carols, perhaps O Little Town of Bethlehem, to hear the texture of the choir in its golden years. The engineering was of the LP era; it certainly isn't state of the art today, but it is interesting to hear the grain of the space in solos and quieter pieces like Silent Night. For those planning a traditional Christmas, this may be just the ticket.
© James Manheim /TiVo

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Carols from King's College, Cambridge

Choir of King's College, Cambridge

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1
Once in Royal David's City (Arr. Mann & Willcocks)
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
00:05:14

Ian Hare, Organ, FeaturedArtist - David Willcocks, Conductor, Arranger - Henry John Gauntlett, Composer - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist - Cecil Frances Alexander, Poet - Arthur Henry Mann, Arranger

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1971, 1997 Parlophone Records Limited

2
O Little Town of Bethlehem (Arr. Ledger)
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
00:03:28

Traditional, Composer - Philip Ledger, Conductor, Arranger - Francis Grier, Organ, FeaturedArtist - Phillips Brooks, Poet - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1976, 1997 Parlophone Records Limited

3
I Saw Three Ships (Arr. Ledger)
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
00:01:44

Traditional, Composer, Poet - Philip Ledger, Conductor, Arranger - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1976, 1997 Parlophone Records Limited

4
In dulci jubilo (Arr. Pearsall)
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
00:03:29

Traditional, Composer - Philip Ledger, Conductor - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist - Robert PEARSALL, Arranger

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1976, 1997 Parlophone Records Limited

5
The First Nowell (Arr. Stainer & Ledger)
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
00:04:53

Traditional, Composer - Philip Ledger, Conductor, Arranger - Francis Grier, Organ, FeaturedArtist - John Stainer, Arranger - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1976, 1997 Parlophone Records Limited

6
The Holly and the Ivy (Arr. Davies)
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
00:03:11

Traditional, Composer - Walford Davies, Arranger - David Willcocks, Conductor - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1971, 1997 Parlophone Records Limited

7
Silent Night (Arr. Willcocks)
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
00:03:05

Franz Xaver Gruber, Composer - Stephen Varcoe, Baritone Vocals, FeaturedArtist - David Willcocks, Conductor, Arranger - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1969, 1997 Parlophone Records Limited

8
Away in a Manger (Arr. Ledger)
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
00:02:09

Philip Ledger, Conductor, Arranger - William James Kirkpatrick, Composer - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1976, 1997 Parlophone Records Limited

9
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (Arr. Willcocks)
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
00:02:50

Traditional, Composer - Nahum Tate, Poet - John Wells, Organ, FeaturedArtist - David Willcocks, Conductor, Arranger - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1969, 1997 Parlophone Records Limited

10
In the Bleak Mid-Winter
Stephen Varcoe
00:04:33

Christopher Bishop, Producer - Harold Darke, Poet - Christina Rossetti, Composer, Poet - Stephen Varcoe, MainArtist, Bass-Baritone Vocals - John Wells, Organ, MainArtist - David Willcocks, Conductor, MainArtist - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1969, 1997 Parlophone Records Limited

11
Quem pastores laudavere
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
00:01:58

Traditional, Composer - David Willcocks, Conductor - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1971, 1997 Parlophone Records Limited

12
Ding Dong! Merrily on High (Arr. Willcocks)
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
00:02:24

Traditional, Composer - David Willcocks, Conductor, Arranger - George Ratcliffe Woodward, Poet - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1969, 1997 Parlophone Records Limited

13
On Christmas Night All Christians Sing (Arr. Willcocks)
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
00:01:53

Traditional, Composer - John Wells, Organ, FeaturedArtist - David Willcocks, Conductor, Arranger - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1997 Parlophone Records Limited

14
O Come, All Ye Faithful (Arr. Willcocks)
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
00:04:47

Frederick Oakeley, Transcriber - Traditional, Composer - Ian Hare, Organ, FeaturedArtist - Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, Ensemble - David Willcocks, Conductor, Arranger - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1973, 1994 Parlophone Records Limited

15
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (After Mendelssohn's Gutenberg Cantata, WoO 9, MWV D4)
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
00:04:10

Felix Mendelssohn, Composer - Ian Hare, Organ, FeaturedArtist - Charles Wesley, Poet - Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, Ensemble - David Willcocks, Conductor, Arranger - Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Choir, MainArtist - William Hayman Cummings, Composer

A Warner Classics release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 1973, 1994 Parlophone Records Limited

Album Description

The repertory of British Christmas releases, like Britain itself, is much more diverse than it used to be, and the marketplace is replete with holiday albums featuring contemporary compositions, pieces drawn from world cultures, and more. That, paradoxically, may have created an opening for Warner Classics' 2022 release Carols from King's College Cambridge, which is a reissue collection of old, perhaps "classic" recordings and a purely traditional outing, with almost all the carols well-known to anyone with the slightest acquaintance with the Christmas music of the Anglophone sphere. The album made classical best-seller lists in late 2022. The arrangements used are venerable, many dating back to the choir's 1960s director, David Willcocks, and even further, to John Stainer, and there are some chorus-brass-organ readings featuring the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, the group of choice in the 1960s and '70s. It is a classic sound, and that seems to be just what many listeners wanted. Sample one of the traditional carols, perhaps O Little Town of Bethlehem, to hear the texture of the choir in its golden years. The engineering was of the LP era; it certainly isn't state of the art today, but it is interesting to hear the grain of the space in solos and quieter pieces like Silent Night. For those planning a traditional Christmas, this may be just the ticket.
© James Manheim /TiVo

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