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Aled's Christmas Gift / boy soprano

Album Summary

>Greene, Buddy : Mary, Did You Know?, song
>Kirkpatrick, William J. : Away in a manger
>Holst, Gustav : In the bleak mid-winter
>Gruber, Franz : Silent Night
>Goss, John : See Amid the Winter's Snow, for chorus
>Traditional, Christmas : Hajej, nynej, Jezishku (Rocking Carol) (Czech)
>Rutter, John : What sweeter music
>Traditional, Christmas : Sussex Carol ("On Christmas Night")
>Davies, Henry Walford : O Little Town of Bethlehem, carol
>Traditional, Christmas : Sans Day Carol ("Now the Holly Bears a Berry") (a.k.a. St. Day Carol)
>Arthur, Edward : Tua Bethlehem Dref
>Berlioz, Hector : L'enfance du Christ, Op. 25
>Livingston, Jay : Silver Bells (for the film The Lemon Drop Kid)
>Traditional, Christmas : The First Nowell (English)
Performers Composers
Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Coombehurst Studio, Kingston University, London; FX YourSpace Studios, London; Greendale Studios, London, England.

Responsible for one of the most iconic and enchanting Christmas songs of the past thirty years, "Walking In The Air," Welsh vocalist Aled Jones is one of the few boy sopranos to make the successful transition to adult classical star. The Radio 2 DJ and Songs Of Praise host has chalked up a rather prolific eight studio albums since his musical comeback in 2000 but it's still the theme tune to the animated version of Raymond Briggs' classic children's book The Snowman that remains his most enduring piece of work. Unafraid to embrace his association with the festive period, Jones returns, for the second time, with an album full of seasonal songs, following 2004's The Christmas Album. Like its predecessor, Aled's Christmas Gift is a collection of simply-arranged and faithful interpretations of traditional hymns and carols which showcase his rich and velvety baritone vocals. Avoiding the trap of lavishing its fourteen tracks with overbearing and intrusive orchestral arrangements, classical crossover producer Ian Tilley (All Angels), instead injects an air of subtlety into proceedings thanks to some tasteful acoustic instrumentation which allows the songs to breathe. Alongside performances of the ubiquitous "Silent Night" and "Away In A Manger," there are also several less-recognisable tracks which helps to differentiate the album from other similar-themed releases. "The Sussex Carol" is a folk-oriented piece written by a 17th Century Irish bishop, "Tua Bethlem Dref" is a traditional Welsh hymn Jones used to sing as a choirboy, while "Mary Did You Know" is the only contemporary composition, originally written by Christian singers Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene in 1984. While critically-acclaimed soprano Hayley Westenra provided the guest vocals on his previous festive release, Aled's Christmas Gift features a duet with someone rather less-known for their vocal prowess, fellow Radio 2 DJ Terry Wogan, whose only previous excursion into musical territory was his 1978 cover of "The Floral Dance." However, their rendition of Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell's "Silver Bells," taken from The Lemon Drop Kid, which could have been a rather misplaced novelty song, actually turns out to be a rather charming and endearing highlight. With its combination of classic seasonal favourites and more personal unfamiliar yuletide songs, Aled's Christmas Gift is a welcome addition to Jones' ever-increasing festive repertoire. ~ Jon O'Brien



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Works Details

>Greene, Buddy : Mary, Did You Know?, song
  • Performers: Elizabeth May (Cello); Aled Jones (Boy Soprano); Charlotte Ashley (Oboe); Fiona Pears (Violin); Anna Stokes (Flute); Simon Lole (Piano); Simon Lole (Organ); Rob Aitken (Guitar); Katie Flanaghan (Harp); Anna Stokes (Recorder); Zoë Brown; Simon Beston (Keyboards); John Robinson (Bass); Ben Crawley (Boy Soprano); Ian Tilley (Keyboards); Ian Tilley (Percussion); Ian Tilley (Piano); Una Palliser (Viola); Sam Coates (Keyboards); Emilia Hughes (Voice)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 40 sec.
  • Written: 1990

>Kirkpatrick, William J. : Away in a manger :: Cradle Song) (New English Hymnal 22)
  • Performers: Ian Tilley (Piano); Ian Tilley (Percussion); Anna Stokes (Flute); Katie Flanaghan (Harp); Elizabeth May (Cello); Sam Coates (Keyboards); Ben Crawley (Boy Soprano); Ian Tilley (Keyboards); Aled Jones (Boy Soprano); Simon Lole (Piano); Anna Stokes (Recorder); Rob Aitken (Guitar); Simon Lole (Organ); Zoë Brown; Fiona Pears (Violin); Simon Beston (Piano); John Robinson (Bass); Charlotte Ashley (Oboe); Una Palliser (Viola); Emilia Hughes (Voice)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 47 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1885

>Holst, Gustav : In the bleak mid-winter
  • Performers: Charlotte Ashley (Oboe); Ian Tilley (Keyboards); John Robinson (Bass); Una Palliser (Viola); Fiona Pears (Violin); Simon Lole (Organ); Simon Lole (Piano); Rob Aitken (Guitar); Simon Beston (Piano); Ben Crawley (Boy Soprano); Sam Coates (Keyboards); Elizabeth May (Cello); Katie Flanaghan (Harp); Zoë Brown; Ian Tilley (Piano); Anna Stokes (Recorder); Anna Stokes (Flute); Aled Jones (Boy Soprano); Emilia Hughes (Voice); Ian Tilley (Percussion)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1904-1905

>Gruber, Franz : Silent Night
  • Performers: Zoë Brown; Simon Beston (Percussion); John Robinson (Bass); Fiona Pears (Violin); Simon Lole (Piano); Rob Aitken (Guitar); Simon Lole (Organ); Una Palliser (Viola); Charlotte Ashley (Oboe); Anna Stokes (Recorder); Elizabeth May (Cello); Ian Tilley (Keyboards); Ian Tilley (Percussion); Ian Tilley (Piano); Anna Stokes (Flute); Ben Crawley (Boy Soprano); Aled Jones (Boy Soprano); Katie Flanaghan (Harp); Sam Coates (Keyboards); Emilia Hughes (Voice)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 13 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 1818

>Goss, John : See Amid the Winter's Snow, for chorus
  • Performers: John Robinson (Bass); Simon Beston (Percussion); Zoë Brown; Fiona Pears (Violin); Rob Aitken (Guitar); Simon Lole (Piano); Simon Lole (Organ); Elizabeth May (Cello); Ian Tilley (Piano); Ian Tilley (Keyboards); Anna Stokes (Flute); Ben Crawley (Boy Soprano); Sam Coates (Keyboards); Aled Jones (Boy Soprano); Katie Flanaghan (Harp); Anna Stokes (Recorder); Charlotte Ashley (Oboe); Ian Tilley (Percussion); Una Palliser (Viola); Emilia Hughes (Voice)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 35 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Christmas

>Traditional, Christmas : Hajej, nynej, Jezishku (Rocking Carol) (Czech)
  • Performers: Ian Tilley (Keyboards); Una Palliser (Viola); Sam Coates (Keyboards); Zoë Brown; Ben Crawley (Boy Soprano); Ian Tilley (Piano); Ian Tilley (Percussion); Aled Jones (Boy Soprano); John Robinson (Bass); Emilia Hughes (Voice); Elizabeth May (Cello); Katie Flanaghan (Harp); Anna Stokes (Flute); Charlotte Ashley (Oboe); Simon Beston (Piano); Fiona Pears (Violin); Anna Stokes (Recorder); Rob Aitken (Guitar); Simon Lole (Organ); Simon Lole (Piano)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 9 sec.

>Rutter, John : What sweeter music
  • Performers: Simon Lole (Organ); Rob Aitken (Guitar); Simon Lole (Piano); Katie Flanaghan (Harp); Elizabeth May (Cello); Anna Stokes (Flute); Anna Stokes (Recorder); Charlotte Ashley (Oboe); Zoë Brown; Simon Beston (Piano); Una Palliser (Viola); Emilia Hughes (Voice); John Robinson (Bass); Aled Jones (Boy Soprano); Sam Coates (Keyboards); Ben Crawley (Boy Soprano); Ian Tilley (Keyboards); Ian Tilley (Percussion); Ian Tilley (Piano); Fiona Pears (Violin)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 37 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1988

>Traditional, Christmas : Sussex Carol ("On Christmas Night")
  • Performers: Sam Coates (Keyboards); Ian Tilley (Piano); Ben Crawley (Boy Soprano); Ian Tilley (Percussion); Aled Jones (Boy Soprano); Ian Tilley (Keyboards); Simon Beston (Keyboards); Rob Aitken (Guitar); Fiona Pears (Violin); Simon Lole (Piano); Zoë Brown; Simon Lole (Organ); John Robinson (Bass); Anna Stokes (Recorder); Elizabeth May (Cello); Katie Flanaghan (Harp); Anna Stokes (Flute); Charlotte Ashley (Oboe); Una Palliser (Viola); Emilia Hughes (Voice)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 51 sec.
  • Period Time: Post-Romantic
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: by 1892

>Davies, Henry Walford : O Little Town of Bethlehem, carol
  • Performers: Rob Aitken (Guitar); Simon Beston (Keyboards); Fiona Pears (Violin); Simon Lole (Piano); Simon Lole (Organ); John Robinson (Bass); Katie Flanaghan (Harp); Elizabeth May (Cello); Sam Coates (Keyboards); Aled Jones (Boy Soprano); Ben Crawley (Boy Soprano); Ian Tilley (Piano); Ian Tilley (Keyboards); Ian Tilley (Percussion); Zoë Brown; Emilia Hughes (Voice); Una Palliser (Viola); Charlotte Ashley (Oboe); Anna Stokes (Recorder); Anna Stokes (Flute)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 21 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: circa 1920

>Traditional, Christmas : Sans Day Carol ("Now the Holly Bears a Berry") (a.k.a. St. Day Carol)
  • Performers: Aled Jones (Boy Soprano); Ben Crawley (Boy Soprano); Sam Coates (Keyboards); Elizabeth May (Cello); Ian Tilley (Keyboards); Emilia Hughes (Voice); Una Palliser (Viola); Charlotte Ashley (Oboe); Anna Stokes (Flute); Ian Tilley (Percussion); Anna Stokes (Recorder); John Robinson (Bass); Katie Flanaghan (Harp); Ian Tilley (Piano); Fiona Pears (Violin); Rob Aitken (Guitar); Zoë Brown; Simon Beston (Piano); Simon Lole (Organ); Simon Lole (Piano)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Renaissance
  • Form: Christmas

>Arthur, Edward : Tua Bethlehem Dref
  • Performers: Katie Flanaghan (Harp); Una Palliser (Viola); Sam Coates (Keyboards); Anna Stokes (Recorder); Elizabeth May (Cello); Aled Jones (Boy Soprano); Emilia Hughes (Voice); John Robinson (Bass); Simon Beston (Piano); Anna Stokes (Flute); Charlotte Ashley (Oboe); Ben Crawley (Boy Soprano); Ian Tilley (Piano); Simon Lole (Piano); Simon Lole (Organ); Fiona Pears (Violin); Zoë Brown; Ian Tilley (Percussion); Rob Aitken (Guitar); Ian Tilley (Keyboards)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Berlioz, Hector : L'enfance du Christ, Op. 25
  • Performers: Katie Flanaghan (Harp); John Robinson (Bass); Emilia Hughes (Voice); Una Palliser (Viola); Charlotte Ashley (Oboe); Anna Stokes (Flute); Zoë Brown; Simon Beston (Piano); Simon Lole (Piano); Fiona Pears (Violin); Rob Aitken (Guitar); Simon Lole (Organ); Anna Stokes (Recorder); Elizabeth May (Cello); Aled Jones (Boy Soprano); Ben Crawley (Boy Soprano); Ian Tilley (Piano); Ian Tilley (Keyboards); Sam Coates (Keyboards); Ian Tilley (Percussion)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Cantata/Oratorio
  • Written: 10/1850-07/1854

>Livingston, Jay : Silver Bells (for the film The Lemon Drop Kid)
  • Performers: John Kelly (Various Instrruments); Aled Jones (Boy Soprano); Simon Hale (Keyboards); Wix (Keyboards); Terry Wogan (Spoken Vocals); Hayley Sanderson (Guitar); John Parricelli (Guitar)
  • Notes: This work was written in collaboration with Ray Evans (Lyricist) (1915 - 2007).
  • Running Time: 3 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1951

>Traditional, Christmas : The First Nowell (English)
  • Performers: Anna Stokes (Recorder); Elizabeth May (Cello); Anna Stokes (Flute); Ian Tilley (Piano); Ian Tilley (Keyboards); Ben Crawley (Boy Soprano); Sam Coates (Keyboards); Aled Jones (Boy Soprano); Ian Tilley (Percussion); Katie Flanaghan (Harp); Charlotte Ashley (Oboe); Simon Lole (Organ); Fiona Pears (Violin); John Robinson (Bass); Zoë Brown; Rob Aitken (Guitar); Simon Lole (Piano); Simon Beston (Percussion); Emilia Hughes (Voice); Una Palliser (Viola)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 28 sec.
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: by 1823