The Christmas Story

Album review
The Christmas Story

Paul Hillier

The Christmas Story

Label: Harmonia Mundi
Media: SACD
Genre: Classical

Choral conductor and singer Paul Hillier has modeled this unusual and unusually attractive program around the Nine Lessons and Carols of Christmas services from his youth in Great Britain. For this recording, based on seasonal concert performances in Denmark (his home ten years now), he dispenses with reading the lessons because he doesn’t want a mixture of languages—a mistake, I think, as they help focus and contextualize the disparate selections, which ideally balance the familiar (but not too familiar) and the recherché. New to me are three Baroque “dialogue” pieces, precursors of the oratorio form, where singers take on dramatic roles. In Dum deambularet Domine (“As the Lord was walking in paradise”) the composer directs the voice of God be sung above and hidden from the others, Adam to be “somewhat hidden,” instructions the producer Robina Young and her engineer Brad Michel take to heart. Superior choral recordings have long been one of Young’s specialties, this new one, in marvelously lifelike SACD sonics, no exception. The performances, divided among Hillier’s Theatre of Voices and Ars Nova Copenhagen, are beyond criticism. 

More Info

  • conductor, Paul Hillier
  • primary artist, Paul Hillier
  • primary artist, Theatre of Voices
  • SACD

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