I note that there are already 18 customer reviews of this 2-CD album, and they unanimously deliver 5 stars! That seems a rather unusual occurrence, but upon listening I find myself in complete agreement. So why do I write? I want to comment on a few specifics not mentioned by the others, but which I think may be helpful to anyone considering buying the album.
First, let me give a rundown on the forces employed in each of the 56 presentations here. Specifically, I will show which are sung a capella, which are sung with organ accompaniment, and which are organ solos.
For CD #1 the a capella pieces are tracks 1,2,5,6,8,10,12,14,15,17,18,19,22,24, and 25. That's 15 altogether sung a capella.
Those sung with organ accompaniment are tracks 4,7,9,13,16,20,21,23,and 26. That totals 9 sung with organ.
Organ solos, played by Richard Marlow, are tracks 3,11, and 27. That makes 3 organ solos.
It should be noted that some accompanied pieces have sections performed a capella.
For CD #2 the a capella tracks are 1,2,4,5,8,10,11,13,14,16,19,20,22,25,28, and 29. That's 16 sung a capella.
The tracks with organ accompaniment are 7,9,12,17,18,21,23, and 26. That's 8 sung with organ.
Organ solos are tracks 3,6,15,24, and 27. That's 5 organ solos.
Again, some accompanied pieces have a capella sections.
From the above it is clear that most of the songs are done a capella, nearly twice as many as those accompanied by the organ. Organ solos are relatively few. To be precise, taking both disks together there are 31 songs done a capella, 17 done with organ, and 8 organ solos.
I should mention also that there are a few passages for solo voices, and though some seem a bit better than others, all solos are quite well performed.
The current choir, formed in 1982, is a mixed group (SATB) consisting of 24 choral students Unlike some earlier dispositions, it contains no boy choristers. (Women are now admitted to the college.) The group is obviously well-trained, performing difficult--and sometimes dissonant--modern pieces in fine style. The homogeneity of vocal style and the blending of voices are both praiseworthy.
The program of music is exceptionally fine, both in selection of pieces and in their arrangement and performance. It is a rare gem of music for the Christmas season, a delight to the ear and to the spirit.
I want also to comment on the organ. The current 1976 instrument by Metzler Söhne of Switzerland is the latest in a long series of instruments dating back about 450 years. Among the previous organs were two built by "Father Smith" [Bernard Smith] in 1694 and 1708 and one by Harrison & Harrison in 1913. Metzler completely rebuilt the organ, fitting it into the old Smith wooden cases and retaining a core of 7 ranks of fine old Smith pipes. The instrument now has 3 manuals plus pedalboard and 42 stops, each with its own rank of pipes. There are 4 divisions: Hauptwerk (Great), Rückpositiv (Chaire or Choir), Schwellwerk (Swell), and Pedal. Metzler did an excellent job of blending the new pipework with the lovely-sounding old pipes to produce a truly beautiful, homogeneous organ regarded as one of the finest instruments in the UK. Though the previous 32' pipes were not included in the current organ, its four 16-foot stops seem to provide a very satisfactory bass.
The sound of the organ is very rich, sweet and smooth, with colorful reeds and lush flues. The bass provides a full, soft cushion of sound which makes a fine foundation for the sonic bloom which fills and admirably suits the acoustic of the college chapel. Its sound mixes well with the choir, yielding a rich and pleasing sound.
The 2 sets of digital recordings were made in the Chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge, in June, 1988 (CD #1) and July, 1993 (CD #2).
I heartily recommend this album to all who appreciate the great old English church tradition of seasonal music-making.
on December 2, 2012
Regardless of season, genre, or artist, this collection is, bar none, my favorite collection of recorded music. Trinity Choir is nothing short of angelic! Ethereal harmonies and acoustics make for a transcendent, heavenly listening experience. Track 17 on the second disc, "O Ye Little Flock," is a particular treat for any hearer. As worshipers, we are called to "lift up our hearts," and Carols from Trinity provide an incredible aid for such assistance. I've been a faithful fan for 12 years now, and buy a number of them each year to give as gives and spread the word about this great set! Can't say enough for it!