Album Remarks & Appraisals:
The Christmas collection by Il Divo features the Christmas classic's 'O Holy Night', 'Ave Maria', 'Silent Night' and more. Columbia. 2005.
"Opera really isn't my preferred style of music. Nonetheless, I've caught Il Divo on morning shows several times, and I've enjoyed the performances by this quartet put together by famous American Idol meanie Simon Cowell. Spanish Carlos Marín, Swiss Urs Bühler, American David Miller and French Sébastien Izambard are the four men who bring their fantastic voices to this group, which reminds me a bit of Celtic Thunder, but with four guys like Paul Byrom and a more ensemble focus. In each song on The Christmas Collection, there are solo lines, but there are also times when all four sing at once. I prefer the harmonies of Celtic Thunder, in part because four operatic voices together can sound a little over-the-top, but these guys definitely sound nice together.
O Holy Night - Each of the individual men shines on his solo lines on this one, but it's in the moments when they come together in harmony that they sound most magnificent, particularly when combined with the delicate backing of a children's choir and, toward the end, some ostentatious brass. Though they neglect to sing my favorite verse of the song, it's nonetheless one of the more impressive renditions I've heard, and it renews my hope that a group rendition of this song is in Celtic Thunder's future.
White Christmas - I like the orchestration on this one, with strings, woodwinds and bells that give the song a nostalgic feel. The first time through is definitely a throwback to the original recording, and the guys sing one at a time. They come together to sing it in a different language - Spanish or Italian, I think. This part sounds a little overly fancy for a song so focused on simplicity, but they do harmonize quite beautifully.
Ave Maria - This harp-accompanied song is surprisingly soft, with a reverently hushed tone as the men switch off and occasionally sing in harmony. At about the two and a half minute mark, the song takes on a pop feel, with finger-snapping percussion especially prominent. The men really let it all out vocally around the four-minute mark, concluding the song in a burst of glory notes.
When a Child Is Born - This song is slightly less well-known than the others, though I am still familiar with it. What interested me most about this rendition was the bagpipe interlude between choruses, which included what sounded to me like a musical quote of You Raise Me Up. The men again come together for a grandiose ending, but I prefer the quieter, more humble beginning.
Adeste Fidelis (O Come All Ye Faithful) - This starts out a cappella and in English before instrumental accompaniment softly creeps in and it switches over to Italian. I especially like the chimes that add a tinkly sound as of falling snowflakes. This one also builds to a grand finish, without any of the voices sounding as though they are in competition with one another to be heard.
Over the Rainbow - A rather odd choice for this album. I've never thought of this one as a Christmas song, though I suppose that its wishful tone gels with the idea of people longing for miracles at Christmastime. It acknowledges a greater something beyond what we directly experience, but there are so many Christmas songs dealing with this directly that the vague connection this offers doesn't seem very strong. Nonetheless, it's a lovely version, and I especially love the chimes on this one.
Panis Angelicus - Another Latin song that seems to be popular among operatic singers. Pretty comparable to Ave Maria.
Rejoice - The only song on the album I hadn't heard before, this gentle tune incorporating piano and Irish whistle is at its best toward the beginning when the men switch off with each other. I always like to have at least one song on a Christmas album that's new to me, so I'm really glad this was included. "So come and rejoice, come and rejoice, what was lost is found."
Silent Night - Some nice harmonies on this one, though it gets a little loud toward the end as the crescendo continues. I wish they'd done the third verse instead of repeating the first again, but their voices sound beautiful together. As Simon and Garfunkel so effectively demonstrated, this is definitely a song that can benefit from close harmony.
The Lord's Prayer - Another song I wouldn't normally associate with Christmas in particular, but it certainly is relevant, and it ends the album on a majestic note.
Listening to this album doesn't give me much of a sense of the men as individuals; there are lyric sheets floating around online that helpfully point out who sings what in each song, but I have a feeling I'd have to watch a concert special in order to really get them sorted out. The reverent tone, with all but one song overtly religious, reminds me of Josh Groban and David Archuleta's Christmas albums, which puts these guys in good company and makes them fellows I'd like to get to know better." -Bibopooh
The Christmas Collection is an album by the operatic pop vocal group Il Divo. The album is a collection of Christmas or holiday-inspired songs. It was released on October 25, 2005 in seven countries: the United States, Canada, Austria, Slovenia, Netherlands, Sweden andFinland.
The Christmas Collection was also the best-selling holiday album of 2005 in the United States according to sales figures fromNielsen/SoundScan, with total sales of 544,000 copies that year.
On January 8, 2007, The Christmas Collection was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of one million copies in the U.S.
CHRISTMAS COLLECTION is also available with a bonus disc in the limited edition IL DIVO GIFT PACK.
Audio Mixer: Ren Swan.
Recording information: Rokstone Studios, London, England (2004); Whitfield Street Studios, London, England (2004).
Photographer: Walter Chin.