Christmas Songs

Christmas Songs

by Orphei Drängar

CD

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Overview

Eminent men's chorus Orphei Drängar's BIS release Christmas Songs should not be confused with the 1991 issue Christmas Music, on which it was led by longtime director Robert Sund. In 2008, Sund passed Orphei Drängar's baton -- rather surprisingly -- to a woman, Cecilia Rydinger Alin. Likewise, BIS' Christmas Songs manages to find a significant place in the mix for another female participant, soprano soloist Ida Falk Winland. Unfortunately, she isn't a very transparent singer and has difficulties with the language in at least the English and American carols programmed here. The listener can barely understand the text in Handel's "He Shall Feed His Flock" from the "Messiah," presented as a solo piece for Winland against the bright backdrop of other guests, the Linné Brass Quintet, at a rather brisk tempo; it's not very Christmas-y. That's a pity, as some of the other pieces in the collection certainly are, such as the luscious "Lux aurumque" of composer Eric Whitacre or the grand rendition of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," heard in as traditional a setting as one might like, buttressed with the brass quintet and a small complement of instruments from the Uppsala Chamber Orchestra. While one is pained to say that Christmas Songs is simply better when the guest soloist is not singing, that's what it amounts to. One must chalk it up to the new director finding her footing with an old ensemble, and as Christmas collections tend to be more forgiving in regard to such experimentation, perhaps this was the right place for it. BIS' Christmas Songs, however, in no way endangers the preeminence of the earlier Christmas Music under Sund, which remains one of the staples of Orphei Drängar's recorded catalog, and listeners programming Christmas Songs as background music for the holidays might want to cherry pick the track selection, as certain pieces are definitely stronger than others.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/24/2009
Label: Bis
UPC: 7318590018330
catalogNumber: 1833
Rank: 232177

Tracks

  1. Koppången
  2. Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day (English)
  3. God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen (English)
  4. Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (adapted by W. H. Cummings from Mendelssohn's Festgesang for the Gutenberg Festival)
  5. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
  6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (for the film Meet Me in St. Louis)
  7. Joy to the World (theme by Handel)
  8. Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming), for chorus
  9. Dostóyno yest (It Is Truly Proper), for chorus
  10. Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht (Silent Night)
  11. Lux aurumque, for chorus (also for wind ensemble)
  12. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: He Shall Feed His Flock
  13. Hodie Christus natus est, motet for 5 voices & continuo (Cantiones Sacrae No. 13)
  14. Staffansvisa från Orust, carol (Swedish)
  15. Vittskövlevisan, carol (Swedish)
  16. Madonnas vaggvisa
  17. Hosiannah!, carol for chorus
  18. Jul, Jul, strålande jul (Christmas, Christmas, Glorious Christmas), song
  19. Forunderligt at sige (Strange to Say), song for voice & piano (Hymns & Sacred Songs), FS 83/1

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