Notes & Reviews:
"The CD would be of interest to anyone looking for an album of upbeat Christmas fare, who's open to some unfamiliar but highly appealing new selections... The performances are splendid -- the singing throughout is fresh, spontaneous, spirited, and unmannered -- and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra plays with polish, but also with a sense of fun." -All Music Guide
"While Christmas music is not the only specialty of John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers, it seems that he and this musical ensemble have an affinity for the music of the holiday season. This is evident in his newest release A CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL.
Seasoned fans of earlier releases, as well as people new to Rutter and the Cambridge Singers will find much to enjoy in A CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL. For new listeners, the beauty will be astounding. For longtime fans, it has everything that made his earlier releases with both Clare College and the Cambridge Singers quality recordings but offers something different too. One noticeable difference in this collection from earlier releases is the accompaniment of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra which gives the orchestral arrangements a more fulsome sound. The majestic sound of the orchestra enhances the vocal beauty of the Cambridge Singers. The collection is enhanced as well by the addition of the Farnham Youth Choir and soloists Elin Manahan Thomas, Clara Sanabras, and Melanie Marshall. Most of the arrangements are by Rutter and he brings the music to life with the musicians at his disposal. The collection includes traditional carols, orchestral pieces including Delius' "Sleigh Ride" which differs from the better known compositions of Mozart and Anderson. The collection has a variety of titles and styles ranging from the traditional "Hark The Herald Angels Sing" to contemporary favorites such as "Mary's Boy Child" to the original such as the Caribbean "The Virgin Mary Had A Baby Boy." We also have some compositions by Rutter himself with serenity and beauty that make any Rutter collection worthwhile. My personal favorite in this collection is "New Year" which wonderfully combines the secular and spiritual aspects of Christmas in a way that reminds us of the beauty of this time of year.
A CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL manages to offer something new while at the same time remaining true to what has worked for John Rutter since his early days at Clare College. For those waiting for a new Rutter release, this collection is well worth the wait and no doubt, it will be beloved for years to come."-Customer Review
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