For Your Listening Pleasure—Fall 2011

Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Christmas Carols

Vaughan William’s Fantasia on Christmas Carols is well-served on a number of fine recordings.

David Willcock

David Willcock, DECCA 028944484823

David Willcocks’ classic reading with the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, and the soloist Harvey Allen is still available on a budget priced Decca double-CD set titled “Noëel: Christmas at King’s.” This is the version with organ and strings rather than full orchestra, but the singing is King’s College Choir at its best and the ˜50-year-old recording still sounds fresh and atmospheric.

John Rutter

John Rutter, Colleguium CSCD 512

John Rutter’s excellent version with the Cambridge Singers and the City of London Sinfonia presents the version for full orchestra (Colleguium CSCD 512). Baritone soloist Stephen Varcoe is lighter than Allen, and though the acoustic is rich and resonant, it is less misty than the version at King’s, allowing the textures of the orchestration to be revealed with compelling clarity.

John Rutter Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind and Good Ale

John Rutter, Colleguium CSCD 516

John Rutter’s Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind and Good Ale both come from teh suite When Icicles Hang and are available with the composer conducting on the CD titled “Fancies” (Collegium CSCD 516). The presentation is enjoyably lightweight (as are the pieces!), though the singing never lacks in precision, verve, and impeccable tonal cohesion.

Stephen Sano
September 2011