John Rutter's 'A Christmas Festival' CD - 2008

There is no composer currently alive who has been more closely associated with Christmas music than John Rutter. For more than 30 years his seasonal choral music has gained him an international following. This major new album of over a dozen new compositions and arrangements together with Rutter's selection of favourite carols was recorded at London's Cadogan Hall and is the first all new Christmas release from Rutter's celebrated Cambridge Singers for 20 years. Accompanying the superb choir are the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and with contributions from the Farnham Youth Choir this is an album with a sales potential far, far beyond the average choral release. The Cambridge Singers are indeed in fine voice and bring to light the soaring melodic cadences of the new Rutter works like "Rejoice And Be Merry", "New Year" and "I Wish You Christmas". His new arrangements are strong too though there's only so much he could do with an over-jolly melody like "Nos Galan (New Year's Eve)", better known to you and I as "Deck The Halls With Boughs Of Holly". Having said that, the haunting Appalachian carol "I Wonder As I Wander" and the quite beautiful "The Shepherd's Carol" are two of the finest examples of Christmas music you'll hear this or any year. Reviewed by Tony Cummings

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