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Christmas Present From Polyphony [Import]

Polyphony , Stephen Layton Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Christmas Present From Polyphony + Rutter: Music for Christmas
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Product Details

  • Performer: Polyphony, Stephen Layton
  • Audio CD (October 12, 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion UK
  • ASIN: B00030NU4A
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,473 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht (Silent Night)
2. Carol-Anthems (3) for chorus: No. 3. Sing Lullaby
3. Christmas Carols (4) for chorus: All this time
4. Ave Maris Stella, for double chorus
5. Magnificat Antiphons (7), for chorus: O Morgenstern
6. Magnificat, for chorus
7. Nativity Carol
8. The Sussex Mummers' Christmas Carol, folk song for chorus (arranged by Dana Perna)
9. A Hymn to the Virgin, for double chorus
10. Lully, Lulla, Thou Little Tiny Child, for soloist & chorus, Op 25b
11. Away in a manger (Tune: Cradle Song) (New English Hymnal 22)
12. O Magnum Mysterium, for chorus
13. Bethlehem Down, carol for chorus & organ
14. Carol-Anthems (3) for chorus: No. 2. A Spotless Rose
15. Chorale on an Old French Carol, for double chorus
16. What Cheer?, carol arrangement for chorus (Christmas Carols No. 2)
17. Lullaby my Jesus, for chorus (arr. by Andrew Carter from Capriol Suite)
18. Shepherd's Pipe Carol

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Choral perfectionists. February 19, 2007
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
One of my absolute favorite Christmas choral CDs. The program itself is fabulous and unique, lacking the tacky "favorites" found on most recordings of this type. Entirely a cappella except for two Rutter arrangements with orchestra. Not a single track is lacking in depth and sincerity.

Polyphony is one phenomenal choir. For its small size, it has truly unmatched sustaining power and control (demonstrated most astonishingly in Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium and the end of Howells' A Spotless Rose). My only disappointment on the entire disc is Grieg's gorgeous "Ave Maris Stella" in which, for whatever reason, the men sing with a strangely unblended and even wobbly sound while the women are almost entirely vibratoless. "Sing Lullaby" by Howells is a priceless gem worth the price of the CD several times over - a powerfully haunting piece performed here to utter perfection and taste. You will also find what is most assuredly the most perfect recording of Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium" to be found anywhere. The balance and length of line this incredibly gifted ensemble achieves in this too-often-performed piece will leave you breathless.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublimely beautiful! February 1, 2005
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Heavenly music, beautifully captured in a location with fantastic acoustics. This is music that needs to be heard on headphones or outstanding surround sound to be really appreciated. Here I am in February still listening to this CD of Xmas music... it's very calming to the soul. I can't recommend this highly enough.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
If the Yuletide season seems to be a combination of tidal wave (shopping and rush) and excruciating boredom from musical tracks that should have, long-ago, worn out and died, this CD is probably the best candidate there is for relaxing from the rush and enlivening the season with renewed listening pleasure.
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, despite the lovely voices November 5, 2010
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Perhaps I'm just feeling curmudgeonly, but I suspect my lack of enthusiasm comes of too-high expectations. One of my favorite Christmas CDs is Polyphony's "O Magnum Misterium," originally recorded in 1996 and reissued in 2005. I listen to it regardless of the season because of its beauty. Several of the tracks on "A Christmas Present" are lifted from that recording, which to my ears is superior in every way to the one under review. The choir is crystalline and soaring and impeccable on both, but the track sequencing on the earlier CD is infinitely more sensitive, chosen with an ear to sustaining the mood and the spiritual atmosphere. It's also better at showcasing soloists (oh the sublime Libby Crabtree!) and favors more piercingly melodic compositions. Yes, I'm showing my bias here. "A Christmas Present" is more of a hodgepodge and less emotionally engaging; also, frankly, in some instances downright boring. "Misterium" has a moment or two of blandness - always a risk with the Anglican canon - but overall it casts a spell of aching gladness. Some passages still move and mesmerise me hundreds of listenings later, with that shiver of goosepimply transcendence that leaves a bittersweet pang. I was hoping ACP would provide more of that controlled, sunlit rapture, but alas, it kept me at arm's length. The vocal perfection is admirable, the spirit lackluster.

To further argue my case, "Misterium" has three more songs than "A Christmas Present," as well as seven instances of plainchant. To illustrate: "Misterium" gives us an exquisite rendition of Leighton's "Of a rose is all my song," a ravishing piece that finishes on the soprano's low-pitched, echoing note and a moment's stillness.
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