The Christmas Story

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Harmonia Mundi HMU 807565 Buy cd


Inspired by the much-loved service of 'Nine Lessons and Carols' given every Christmas Eve in England, this recording presents the Nativity story told through plainchant, motets, 17th Century dialogues, and traditional folk carols. Paul Hillier leads Ars Nova Copenhagen and Theatre of Voices in music he has culled and arranged from Italian, German, Danish, English, and American sources.

Plainchant Rorate coeli desuper
Paul Hillier (arr.) Veni, veni Emmanuel
Paul Hillier (arr.) Es ist ein Ros entsprungen
Biasio Tomasi Dum deambulant Dominus in Paradisum
Howard Skempton Adam lay y-bounden
R. L. Pearsall (arr.) In dulci iubilo
Alessandro Grandi Missus est Gabriel
Plainchant Puer natus est
William Byrd O magnum mysterium
Giovanni Francesco Anerio Voi ch'ai notturni rai
Paul Hillier (arr.) Dormi, dormi, o bel bambin
Paul Hillier (arr.) Liebe Hirten
Paul Hillier (arr.) Andachtsjodler
J.H. Hopkins We three Kings
Plainchant Videntes stellam
Paul Hillier (arr.) Personent hodie
Plainchant Herodes iratus
Plainchant Vox in Rama
Johann Eccard Uebers Gebirg
Johann Eccard Maria wallt zum Heiligtum
Paul Hillier (arr.) The Holly and the Ivy
Niels W. Gade Barn Jesus i en krybbe lå
Paul Hillier (arr.) We wish you a merry Christmas
  • "Paul Hillier’s arrangements are unfailingly sensitive"

    Ars Nova Copenhagen sing the larger-scale pieces, with an unerring ability to sound idiomatic despite the diverse range of languages and musical styles.

    Classical CDs Weekly
  • "Probably my favourite disc this year"

    If you only want to buy one Christmas disc this year, this would be my top recommendation.

    Presto News
  • "A cleverly constructed album of real substance"

    The 65 minutes are designed to be played at a single sitting: the musically curious – and those of genuine religious impulse – will find much that is deeply satisfying. 5 stars.

    Mail on Sunday
  • "It doesn’t get any better than this"

    It simply—and rarely—doesn’t get any better than this, and if you love Christmas music this is one of the two or three I can recommend unreservedly as essential acquisitions for this year’s hearth-fire stocking.
  • The Christmas Story (Classical Review)

    ...beautifully performed... Paul Hillier has dressed up some of these carols with spicy arrangements... Best of all are the least familiar carols...

    Classical Review
  • "The performances are outstanding"

    Hillier’s repertoire choices are bold and beautiful... The performances are outstanding... These days it seems that everything Hillier touches turns to gold and this album is the latest that benefits from his Midas touch. Brilliant singing, innovative repertoire choices and sterling sound quality make this everything you can possibly want from a Christmas album, or any other album for that matter.

  • 5 stars *****

    A collection of plainchant and traditional carols from Italy, Germany, Denmark, England and America to tell the Christmas story. A sparkling German carol, “Liebe Hirten”... and what is surely the Rolls Royce version of “We Three Kings.

    Buffalo News
  • Paul Hillier is a reliably inventive conductor

    Paul Hillier is a reliably inventive conductor with an ear for fine choral singing. The Christmas Story (Theatre of Voices, Ars Nova Copenhagen)… gives the whole story, from Advent and the Annunciation through Epiphany and the Holy Innocents, along with an ‘epilogue’ of secular favorites, concluding with figgy pudding.

    St. Louis Post Dispatch
  • "An unusual and unusually attractive program"

    [An] unusual and unusually attractive program... The performances, divided among Hillier's Theatre of Voices and Ars Nova Copenhagen, are beyond criticism.

    The Absolute Sound
  • "An essential addition to your Christmas music collection"

    Luminously recorded in Garnisons Kirke, Copenhagen ‘The Christmas Story’ is not only the ultimate stocking filler but an essential addition to your Christmas music collection.

    International Record REview
  • "Strongly recommended"

    Paul Hillier always presents something unique (...) the program returns considerable rewards both in the exceptional quality of the ensemble singing and in the interesting repertoire.

    Classics Today
  • A trove of festive treasures

    The standard of singing is consistently outstanding. A marvellous issue.
    Performance   *****
    Recording       *****

    BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2011
  • A trove of festive treasures

    The standard of singing is consistently outstanding. A marvellous issue.
    Performance   *****
    Recording       *****

    BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2011
  • "A stunningly beautiful record"

    This stunningly beautiful record is inspired by the famous Nine Lessons and Carols service. (...) With the inclusion of an essay by Hillier, a Thomas Hardy poem, all the sung texts, paintings and photographs, the presentation is exemplary.
    Five stars *****

    Time out London
  • "impaccably refined and expressive singing"

    As collections of Christmas music go, this one stands out, not only for the impeccably refined and expressive singing, but for the immense breadth of the material it contains. (...) The highlight, for me, is Ars Nova’s beautifully shaped reading of Byrd’s O magnum mysterium.

    Sunday Times
  • "The performances are brilliant"

    Hillier’s groups do more than perform music brilliantly; they get out of the way of the music and let it tell the story.

  • "A lovely disc"

    Ars Nova Copenhagen sing the larger scale pieces, with an unerring ability to sound idiomatic despite the diverse range of languages and musical styles.
  • "light, airy and expertly balanced"

    this year’s most imaginative variation on the seasonal disc theme (...) light, airy and expertly balanced accounts of 20 items from plainchant to ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’.

    Gramophone, December 2011
  • "first-rate fare"

    ...something of substance to lighten the dark nights.
  • "A crackerjack recommendation"

    The Christmas Story is a treasure...Hillier's stellar forces and the matchless harmonia mundi team have outdone themselves.