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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars44
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on September 21, 2000
Once again, John Rutter works his choral magic with the Cambridge Singers and turns out another extraordinary collection of Christmas carols. All the popular ones are here, the only down side being that there are no carols composed by Rutter himself. There is one bonus, in effect, hearing the Rutter choral treatment applied to The Christmas Song by Mel Torme and Robert Wells. It's never sounded better.
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on December 6, 1998
A first rate disc with wonderful selections and beautiful singing. You can close your eyes and pretend as if you are in a cathedral listening the the choir.
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on December 22, 2003
I love this CD. The voices are so pure and beautifully blended. Rutter's arrangements are brilliant. It's really hard to pick a favorite, but I do love "All My Heart This Night Rejoices." Absolutely wonderful! Anyone who appreciates good choral music should get this CD and make it part of your holidays.
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on September 29, 2009
When John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers released their CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL recording in October of last year, a number of people commented on the number of relatively unknown and often quite exotic carols included. Perhaps given the number of earlier holiday releases they had previously released, they were obliged to search a bit farther afield (and those would be snow covered fields for the most part) for their newest collection.

A CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL is chock full of delicious holiday surprises, but this earlier recording (officially released in the 1997, but actually recorded in 1981) is equally captivating, even thoughlisteners will know most of its selections by heart, mainly because they have them all IN their hearts. (One notable exception and something of a hint of the "diversity" to come on later releases is the apparent American Indian hymn "'Twas In the Moon of Wintertime." But even in the case of the holiday standards, one has to keep in mind that with choral music, it's all about the arrangements. And is there a better, more original choral arranger on the planet than John Rutter?

It's something of a cliche to say that a new arrangement of a familiar composition causes the listener to her it with "new ears," but I can't help thinking just that when listening to this beautiful record. There's little that's actually flashy about these arrangements: they are quietly inventive and serve to honor the spirit of the original carols rather than "reinvent them."

New ears for Christmas, hmm. Not a bad gift at all.
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on December 27, 2012
So much truly excellent Christmas music is available, it's difficult to choose a single favorite album, but this is probably it. More remarkable yet, this is all music from a single director and choir--John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers--rather than a compilation of "best-of" tracks from various artists.

Why do I love this album so much? The performers maintain extraordinary artistic excellence throughout the album, yet always with a sense of religious awe appropriate to the subject matter. Each song is performed on its own merits rather than forcing it into a single mold of the singers' or director's style. There is some orchestral accompaniment and it's always "just right", framing and emphasizing the choir rather than overwhelming or distracting from.

My particular favorites: "I wonder as I wander", "Three Kings of Orient" (the best version I've ever heard), and "What Child Is This?" (again, the best version I've ever heard).
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on August 15, 2007
How can I say this - if you have absolutely zero Christmas cds and want to build a nice collection, this is the one you should buy first.
From the robust and cheery "Good Christian Men Rejoice" in the opening track til the end this disc is full of wonderful arrangements, a few esoteric picks, and all around good Christmas cheer.
Whether you are sitting at home and want to feel the Christmas spirit and yet want to have more musical substance than the local radio station, or hosting a party that needs a nice soundtrack, this cd will satisfy your needs.
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on January 29, 2006
At last, an album of Christmas music that includes nearly all the great old carols, beautifully arranged for choir, organ and orchestra, plus a few less well known but charming tunes. The recording quality is excellent and curling up with the CD in front of the fire during the season evokes wonderful English Christmas images. Only one small caveat: the arrangement of "Joy to the World" attempts to turn the hymn into a chorus from a Handel oratorio. Yes, it's a Handel tune and it probably seemed like an interesting idea on paper, but the high concept overwhelms the piece and spoils it. That's a small complaint in the face of so much lovely music, however. You'll be listening to this one for many Christmases to come.
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on January 11, 2009
Rutter's settings of traditional Christmas carols give new life to some old favorites. The orchestrations are lovely, and the a capella selections will make you feel like you have the world's best English carolers standing on your doorstep. This CD includes many standard carols, and a few lesser-known ones, like the gorgeous "All My Heart This Night Rejoices," which in my opinion deserves to be revived to familiarity. Also, the Cambridge Singers' performance of "The Christmas Song" is one of my favorite versions of that song...very lush! This CD is always a staple in my music rotation during the holiday season.
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on January 30, 2015
I absolutely love the arrangements of these familiar Christmas songs. I like the fact that you can understand each word they sing. I have a few songs that stick out for me.

Silent Night just floated, bringing chills down my spine from the harmonies.
We Three Kings of Orient Are had a perfect accompaniment for a deceptively tricky vocal arrangement.
Twas in the Moon of Winter Time (sometimes called Huron Carol) was lovely.
Go Tell it on the Mountain was tweaked to make it fresh.
Rise up Shepherd, and Follow was haunting.

If you enjoy choral Christmas music, you won't be disappointed.
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on January 2, 2013
I only got this because someone on Twitter whom I admire said it was his favorite Christmas CD - and that no other is needed. Well, I like a lot of different Christmas musical selections, but this is really a must-have for prayerful glorious music sitting in front of the tree.
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