A trove of festive treasures

The Christmas Story
Terry Blain, BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2011
Torsdag, 1. december

Paul Hillier has lived in Denmark for ten years now, and has developed his own slant on the very English service of Nine Lessons and Carols, a version of which (minus lessons) is presented on this new CD. Hillier's is a smaller-scale, more intimate type of experience than the typical King's College, Cambridge presentation, and contains many unfamiliar musical gems. Biasio Tomasi's Dum deambularet Dominus in Paradisum, for instance, is a delightful little quasi-operatic scena dating from the 17th century, in which four solo voices enact the fall of Adam in the garden. From the same period Alessandro Grandi similarly provides a mini-dramatisation of the annuciation, while Giovanni Francesco Anerio's Voi ch'ai notturni rai joyously surveys the Nativity scene itself. Hillier also unearths Howard Skempton's setting of Adam lay y-bounden, a more introverted and highly impressive alternative to the familiar setting. The standard of singing is consistently outstanding. A marvellous issue.
Performance   *****
Recording       *****