Customer Reviews: Carols from Trinity
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on September 24, 1998
This is absolutely one of my favorite choral CDs. The choir does so many things so well. Diction and intonation are uniformly excellent, and above all the musical phrasing is exquisite throughout. If you like English carols, you really owe it to yourself to get this recording.
Note that there are two CDs on this recording--you get more than your money's worth of music. (I should point out that the choir does abbreviate some of the longer hymns--"Once in Royal David's City" gets cut down to three verses, for example--which I find slightly annoying but others may appreciate.) There is a variety of musical styles, including several hymns with descants, a little bit of Bach and some modern carol settings. There are a few organ solo pieces as well, though these are quite short.
I give this recording my very highest recommendation.
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on March 25, 2000
This recording looks back to the English choral tradition as it was in its heyday during the 1950's and 1960's, when The Choir of Kings College issued so many wonderful recordings under Boris Ord and Donald Willcocks.Kings is still in business, of course, but today Richard Marlowe and the Choir of Trinity College are better exponents of this tradition than Kings College itself, at least on the evidence of this recording. The choice of music on these two CDs is widely varied and the price is certainly right.Best of all, this recording can work for many different audiences, from those who know the English tradition, to those who know only the pop-inflected John Rutter version of it, to those who have never heard an English choir but can appreciate musical "comfort food," especially at Christmas time.
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on November 2, 2005
I have had the Carols from Trinity CD for years and,without doubt, it is the most delicious selection of Christmas music from the English tradition executed in the most exquisite manner. I also have A Child is Born, which, although splendid, is not as captivating as the first collection.

Particularly breathtaking are Richard Marlowe's gorgeous descants. They soar! Listen to "O Little Town of Bethlehem", it makes the back of your neck tingle! Similarly, "While Shepherds Watched" comes to new life in Marlowe's arrangement.

I have yet to find a finer set of Carols performed so flawlessly.
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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.
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Not only are the recordings of both favorite well known and 'terribly British' carols some of the finest recordings around - made in Trinity College Chapel in the 1990s - but the price for this collection of 2 CDs is so inexpensive that everyone should own this release. The reason for the 2 CD set is that the recordings were made in two separate years and released singly as 'Carols from Trinity' and 'A Child is Born'. And another aspect of these performances is that they are sung by choirs that include both young boys and the full adult - soprano, alto, tenor , bass - choir. The result may put off some purists who believe these carols should be sung by choruses of men and boys only, and for those who prefer that sound there are many alternative recordings available. But for pure celebratory sound this chorus is as fine as they come.

Another aspect of this collection is the wide variety of music offered - organ solos by both Richard Marlow and Silas Standage, medieval plainsong and chants, and carols from throughout time. There are moments for contemplation and moments for rejoicing. The works included cover the entire advent season so purchasing the release now with comfortable settle into the home and festivities throughout the next months. This is a first class recording and at this price, it is not to be passed by! Grady Harp, November 11
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on April 18, 2003
The disc 1 of this collection was first released over a decade ago, and it quickly became my favorite Christmas CD. So much so I wore it out(scratched from constant shuffling in and out of a myriad of Cd players).. I was delighted when it was rereleased with a second CD. The second CD isn't quite as memorable, but is an excellent collection of more obscure music than the first. Definitely add this to your Christmas list if you enjoy the "big", high church Anglican style... I sure do!
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on February 3, 2010
I purchased this CD a 2 years ago for myself and I loved it so much I decided to buy it for my friend as a Christmas gift. She really enjoyed it too. The selection of music is mostly Renaissance and the harmonies are beautiful. There are many songs since there are 2 CD's. I have listened to the CD for 2 years and I still am not tired of it. I also enjoy the sopranos beautiful voice and energy of the choral singing. It is one of my favorites and I listen to it all year long.
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on February 11, 2014
I sang many of these songs as a child from my mother's well worn brown church hymnal every Christmas. I never dreamt those old songs would disappear from the collective repertoire of church music within the next three decades. So imagine my surprise not only finding these classics but the outstanding performances of Richard Marlow. It was my first time being exposed to his choir and was so pleased I purchased another album of his works.
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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!
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on January 15, 2008
This is familiar, traditional Christmas music, very well-crafted and performed in the Anglican style of hymnody. One of the best ever Christmas albums.
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