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Early Music Christmas Recordings

Christmas, as a holiday, goes back nearly two millennium. Music has changed over the time, but the idea of celebrating with music hasn’t. Much of our favorite Christmas music date back to the Middle Ages or even earlier, and the best way to experience them is in the work of those groups dedicated to preserving centuries-old music – Tudor polyphony, medieval chant, medieval carols, renaissance motets, plainchant or more. This was music when music told a story, and the story it tells is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, one of the most important times of the year for millions of people throughout the last 2,000 years.

Displaying 1-34 of 34 items.


Anonymous 4 : A Star In The East

Review: A selection of liturgical and paraliturgical Christmas pieces, taken from medieval Hungarian sources. Most are monophonic, but there is a modest sprinkling of simple polyphonic pieces for two, three and four voices. The charm of the performance lies in its unpretentious, almost childlike simplicity - suggested, maybe, by the delightful extracts from the Christmas story as quoted in the notes. These extracts come from the "Peasants' Bible" - Paraszbiblia: Magyar Nepi Biblikus Tortenetek - which contains Bible stories retold in simple language, with homely, imaginative details and an atmosphere of fairy-tale. The classic liturgical pieces, which include the Introit Dum medium silentium, the splendid Gradual Speciosa forma, and others, are heard in a version which tends to use the pentatonic scale, thus avoiding both B natural and B flat. The sung readings are impressive with their polyphonic settings. I enjoyed the rich Genealogy (Liber generationis) with its beautifully constructed and compelling melody. Some of the vernacular pieces, as well as the Latin song for New Year's Day, have a regular ternary rhythm. The Hungarian Te Deum (which appeared in an earlier recording by the Schola Hungarica on Quintana) offers an interesting alternative for the concluding verses: it simply transposes the original theme up a fourth. The 110-page booklet, lavishly produced with both colour and black-and-white illustrations, is a marvellous little tool and a joy to handle.

Songlist: Ave spes nostra, Mi Atyank Atya Isten, Veni domine, O mundi domina, Fuit virgo, Vox clara, ecce, intonat, Omes unanimiter, Dum medium silentium, Primo tempore alleviata, Speciosus forma, Novum decus oritur, Letentur cele, Salvator noster, Az idvozitor regenten, Novus annaus adiit, Exulta filia Syon, Liber generationis, Gaude et letare, Exordium quadruplate"/"Nate dei"/"Concrepet infanti"/"Verbum caro, Isten, teged

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6219c | 1 CD | $15.98 | A Cappella || Female Choral Christmas CDs


Anonymous 4 : Legends of St Nicholas

Review: 1999 recording, celebrating the legend of St. Nicholas ("Jolly St Nick," or "Santa Claus"); as with most folk heroes, the actual biography of Nicholas, born in Turkey somewhere around 300 A.D., is much removed from present day interpretation. The New-York based classical women's quartet Anonymous 4, whose focus is medieval chant and polyphony, enliven these motets, hymns and conductus (medieval setting of Latin text) with an attention to historical realism that brings them very much to life. As the function of these chants was in the context of Catholic liturgy, they are by definition, an embodiment of all that is divine; neither rhythmically or harmonically complex, their appeal is their quiet beauty and distinctive texture.

Songlist: intonent hodie, exultemus et letemur, gaudens in domino, seint nicholas was borne in the citee of patras, confessor dei nicholaus, cantu mirro, summa laude, sainte nicholaes, whanne the bisshop of the citee of myre deied, nicholai presulis, cum quidam fluctuantia, novus presul prodiit, sainte nicholaes, all the province of seint nicholas suffered..., plaudat letitia, salve cleri speculum/ salve iubar presulum, sainte nicholaes, a worschipfull man hadde thre doughtres virgines, fulget nicolaus, ex eius tumba/ sospitati dedit egros, gaudens in domino, and whanne oure lorde lust to take seint nicholas..., psallar chorus/ eximie pater/ (aptatur), nicholae presulum, micholaus pontifex

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6521c | 1 CD | $15.98 | A Cappella || Female Choral Christmas CDs


Anonymous 4 : On Yoolis Night

Review: The four female members of Anonymous 4 are dedicated to the preservation of Gregorian chant from medieval times, and this holiday selection of English plainchant, songs, motets and carols are all derived from this period. As one might expect, the texts are often sacred in nature, to be performed during religious rites and devotions, such as Advent (hymn, "Vox Clara, Ecce, intonat"). Carols often use the multiple verse and refrain format, that was a typical form ("Ther Is No Rose Of Swych Vertu," and others). Much more could be said about the historical and musical context of these works - and is, in the extensive liner notes - but this background, though fascinating, is not necessary to simply appreciate the supple grace and open sound of these gentle voices, which is more than enough.

Songlist: Hodie Christus natus est, O nobilis nativitas"/"O mira dei"/"Odecus virgineum"/"Appruit, Lux de luce, Alleluya: A nywe werke, Verbum supernun prodiens, Balaam de quo vaticianas, Ave Maria, Gabriel, fram heven-king, Lullay: I saw a swete semly syght, Prolis eterne genitor"/"Psallat mater gracie, Vox clara, ecce, intonat, De supernis sedibus, Qmnes de Saba, Puellare gremium, Lullay, ullay: Als I lay on Yoolis night, Tria sunt munera, Orto sole serene"/"Origo viri"/"Virga Iesse, Peperit virgo, Ecce quod natura, A solis ortus cardine, Ther is no rose of swych vertu, Videntes stellam, Owt of your slepe aryse

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6218c | 1 CD | $15.98 | A Cappella |


Anonymous 4 : Wolcum Yule

Review: Andrew Lawrence-King's virtuoso harp joins the voices of Anonymous 4 in a wealth of Yuletide music, favourite and rare, from the British Isles. Juxtaposing pagan and Christian traditions, the programme interweaves English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh ballads and carols with well-loved pieces by John Tavener (The Lamb), Benjamin Britten, and a newly commissioned work by Peter Maxwell Davies. Andrew Lawrence-King adds special colour playing a variety of instruments: psaltery, Baroque harp, and a remarkable Irish "Queen Mary" harp which sounds as if it contains its own peal of heavenly bells.

Songlist: Awake and join the cheerful choir, Good people all, The seven rejoices of Mary, The Lamb, A Scots Lilt, Balulalow, Balulalow (Richard Rodney Bennett), The holly and the ivy, The Reel of Tullochgorum, I saw three ships, A Calendar of Kings (Peter Maxwell Davies), Air: La fuar geimhreadh, An teicheadh go hEigipt, A God, and yet a man? (Geoffrey Burgon), Grene growith the holy (Henry VIII), Wel, dyma'r borau gorau, The Cherry Tree Carol, Can wassel, A New Year Carol (Benjamin Britten)

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6951c | 1 CD | $15.98 || Female Choral Christmas CDs


Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo De Silos : Christmas Chants

Review: The Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo De Silos became famous outside of religious circles in the mid-'90s when a recording of their liturgical Gregorian chants unexpectedly climbed to the top of U.S. pop charts. The Benedictine Monks have released several successful albums of their monophonic chants and have helped bring joy of mediaeval plainsong to a new and larger audience. This is a very well recorded CD of top notch quality.

Songlist: Prayers. Rorate Celi desuper. Mode I, Antiphon. O Sapientia. Mode II, Introit. Gaudete in Domino semper and Psalm 84, 1. Mode I, Hymn. Christe, redemptor omnium. Mode I, Invitational Antiphon. Christus natus est nobis and Psalm 94, 1-2. Mode IV, First Lesson of Maitins, acc. to Isaiah 9, 1-6. Primo tempore., Hymn. A solis ortus cardine. Mode III, Antiphon. Quem vidistis, pastores? Mode II, Antiphon. Facta est cumm Angelo. Mode VII, Communion. Liturgia mozarabe. Gustate et videte. Mode II, Antiphon. Rubum quem viderat and Magnificat. Mode IV, Alleluia. Dies sanctificatus. Mode II, Communion. Viderunt omnes. Mode I, Canticle. Puer natus in Bethlehem. Mode I, Canticle. Adeste fideles. Mode VI, Introit. Dominus dixit and Psalm 2, 1. Mode II, Introit. Puer natus est nobis and Psalm 97, 1. Mod VII, Gradual. Omnes de Saba. Mode V, Antiphon. Alma Redemptoris Mater. Mode V, Hymn. Panis angelicus. Mode IV, Invitational Antiphon. Christum Regem. Mode IV, Hymn. Adoro te devote. Mode V, Hymn. Te decet laus. Mode II, Antiphon. Laudemus Dominum and Psalm 116. Mode II, Canticle. Ave verum. Mode VI

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8705c | 1 CD | $8.95 | A Cappella |


Boston Camerata : Mediaevel Christmas : 00  1 CD : Joel Cohen :  : 2-71315

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Gaude Maria

Boston Camerata : Mediaevel Christmas

Review: This recortding is one of several in the highly successfule series of Christmas recordings from this fine ensemble. The music on this collection spans seven centuries (12th to 19th) and offers a wide and diverse range of compositions. Director Joel Cohen opens with a Hebrew cantillation of "Isaiah's Prophecy" of the comming of the Messiah, moves on to a 10th-century Spanish setting of a sibylline prophecy, and then takes us to 12th-century Provence with "Adest Pronsus". The performances are always stylish and captivating.... a treasure and essential to your collection.

Songlist: Isiah's Prophecy, The Sybil's Prohecy - Iudicii Signum, Conductis - Adest Sponsus, Clausula - Oiet, Virgines, Hymn - Domino, Lauda - Conditor Alme Siderum, Reading - Verbum Caro Factum, Organum - On Frymae Was Word, Reading - Ludea Et Iberusalem, Hymn - Gedonis Area, Sacred Song - O Maria, Feu MAire, Prosa - Ave Maria, Responsory - Gaude MAria, Hymn - Joseph, Liber Nefe Min, Conductus With Refrain - Congaudes Hodie, in Dulci Jubilo, Hymn - In Dulci Jubilo, Reading - Hand By We Shule Us Take, Conductus - Lux Hodie.. Orientis Partibus

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8471c | 1 CD | $11.95 |


Capella Gregoriana : Gregorian Christmas

Review: Not technically Gregorian, because of some polyphony this recording is predominantly chant, but there are times when the selections move to motets, the natural outgrowth of chant, being simultaneous independent plain songs as it were, combined to form a melodious and rhythmic whole much as partner songs do. As for the Christmas feel, it is certainly reverent and soothing. Highly recommended, this is an excellent budget album.

Songlist: Introitus: Puer natus est nobis, Kyrie: Kyrie eleison, Gloria: Gloria in excelsis Deo, Psalmus 112: Laudate pueri, Offertorium: Tui sunt caeli, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Communio: Viderunt omnes, Magnificat anuma mea Dominum, Hymnus: A solis ortus cardine, Introitus: Salve sancta Parens, Halleluja: Multifarie, Communio: Exulta filia Sion / Psalm 45, Magnificat anima mea Dominum

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8704c | 1 CD | $8.95 | A Cappella |


Ensemble Amarcord : Nun Komm Der Heiden Heiland

Review: "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland", containing Early and Renaissance Christmas music, won a CASA award in 2006 for "Best classical album" and is a most rewarding of the award. The tale told by the booklet stretches back to St. Augustine and his role in early Christian church music, all by way of explaining the origins of Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (Now come, savior of the Gentiles), the hymn that gives the album its title. It got started as a Latin hymn, Veni redemptor gentium, by Saint Ambrose, the bishop of Milan who baptized Augustine of Hippo; translated into German and simplified somewhat by Martin Luther, it became a pan-Protestant hit. The group's singing is intonationally dazzling and splendidly controlled, fully the equal of any of the world's more flamboyant male vocal ensembles but without drawing attention to itself.

Songlist: Alle Psallite Cum Luya, Veni Redemptor Gentium, Nun Komm Der Heiden Heiland, Angelus Ad Virginiem, Magnificat Sexti Toni, Veni Redemptor Gentium, Stella Splendens, Pastores Loquebantur Inter Se, Officium Nativitatis Domini, Vetus Abit Littera Vid erunt Omnes, Sys Willekomen Heirre Kerst, In Dulci Jubilo, O Viridissma Virga, There is No Rose Of Swych Vertu, Es Ist Rose Entsprungen, Veni Redemptor Gentium, Nun Komm Der Heiden Heiland, Alleluya: A Nywe Werk, Veni redemptor gentium

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9865c | 1 CD | $16.95 |


Gloriae Dei Cantores : Chants of Christmas

Review: Depicting the sacred mystery of Christmas in the ancient melodies of Gregorian chant, this recording will enrich anyone's experience of this holy season. The first Mass, the quietly joyful "Ad Missam in Vigilia," builds on the anticipation of the coming event, proclaiming the Good News of the salvation prepared for us by a loving God through the birth of His Son. The second Mass, the tender "Ad Missam in Nocte," is sung at the hour traditionally oberved as the time of Christ's birth. With exquisite beauty and strength, the Mass celebrated at dawn on Christmas Day, "Ad Missam in Aurora," expresses the coming of the Light into the world. The fourth Mass, "Ad Missam in Die," is a jubilant expression of the salvation and righteousness of God. This recording also includes special antiphons honoring the Virgin Mary.

Songlist: Introit: Hodie scietis, Gradual: Hodie scietis, Alleluia: Crastina die, Offertory: Tollite portas, Communion: Revelabitur, Introit: Dominus dixit, Gradual: Tecum principium, Alleluia: Dominus dixit, Offertory: Laetentur caeli, Communion: In splendoribus, Introit: Lux fulgebit, Gradual: Benedictus qui venit, Alleluia: Dominus regnavit, Offertory: Deus enim firmavit, Communion: Exsulta filia sion, Introit: Puer natus est nobis, Gradual: Viderunt omnes, Alleluia: Dies sanctificatus, Offertory: Tui sunt caeli, Communion: Viderunt omnes, Alma redemptoris mater, Ave regina caelorum, Regina Caeli, Salve Regina, Alma redemptoris mater, Ave regina caelorum, Regina Caeli, Salve Regina

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8566c | 1 CD | $15.95 |


Lionheart : Tydings Trew

Review: In the extensive liner notes to "Tydings Trew" we learn that present-day Christmas celebrations owe a great deal to English monks, particularly followers of St. Francis of Assisi who arrived in England in 1224. Carols, not at all religious, were a form of ribald dance. The form, but not the content, was appropriated by the friars and Christian sentiments added to the verses. All-male sextet Lionheart is one of America's leading ensembles in vocal chamber music, best known for its interpretation of medieval and Renaissance a cappella music, particularly Gregorian chant. "Tydings" is the 4th CD featuring their smoothly blended harmonies and precise, balanced sound. There are 22 carols from 14th and 15th century England, mostly relating to the nativity, but varying in their methods and purpose. "Antiphon: Facta est cum angela," for example, sings in Latin of the angels' annunciation, while "Carol: A, my dere, a, my dere Son" is Mary singing to her newborn baby. "Carol: Nowel, nowel" is likely the actual "first noel," and quite different from it, but simply beautiful.

Songlist: A Solis ortus cardine, Nowell, nowell, Hayl Mary, ful of grace, Venter tuus, Facta est cum angelo, Benedicite omnia opera domini domino, As I outrode this endres night, Ecce, quod natura, Nesciens mater, A, my dere, a, my dere Son, Nowel, nowel, Sancte dei preciose, Eya, martir Stephane, Hic est discipulus, Worcepe we this holy day, Lully lulla, Seynt THomas honour we, Magi videntes stellam, Ave Rex angelorum, Gaude virgo mater Christi, Alleluya, omnes de saba, Nunc dimitts

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7017c | 1 CD | $15.98 | A Cappella |


Mediaeval Baebes : Mistletoe and Wine

Review: Our definition of a Christmas gift would certainly include 8 beautiful women, dressed in mediaeval costume, singing songs adapted from the 11th through the 16th centuries, lightly accompanied such period instruments as Zither, Hurdygurdy, Harmonium, Citern, Glockenspiel and Astrowheel. We don't even know what a number of these instruments look like, but they sound wonderful! "Mistletoe" is classical and even sacred, but the Baebes' vital sound is anything but dry or academic. 15 tunes, some favorites: "The Holly & The Ivy," the traditional French "L'Amour de Moi," the dramatic "Salva Nos," "There Is No Rose of Swych Vertu," "Kimberly," the lovely "In Dulci Jubilo," "I Am Eve," "The Coventry Carol," the spirited "Undrentide" and the plaintive, haunting "Blow, Northern Wind." The beauty of the words and music are rivaled only by the sweet voices and harmonies!

Songlist: The Holly and the Ivy, Gaudete, Amour de Moi, Salva Nos, Glass Window, There Is No Rose of Swych Vertu, Kinderly, In Dulce Jubilo, Love Me Broughte, I Am Eve, Quan Vey La Layeta, The Coventry Carol, Underntide, Ecce Mundi Gaudium, Blow Northern Wind

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7068c | 1 CD | $15.98 | A Cappella || Female Choral CDs


Netherlands Chamber Choir : Mirabile Mysterium

Review: Specialist in medieval and Renaissance polyphony Paul Von Nevel guest conducts the Nederlands Kamerkoor in 14 classical sacred works of Christmas music, ranging from Jacobus Gallus' 16th century title tune and Geronimo Luca's 17th century "Este Nino que es sol del aurora" to Bertram Luard-Selby's 19th century "A Voice from Ramah" and Harold Darke's 20th Century "In The Bleak Mid-Winter." Some accompaniment from period recorder, renaissance violin, viola da gamba, shawm and dulciam. Just beautiful!

Songlist: Mirabile mysterium, Unidos tres reyes, Vincti presepio / Stelle presagio, Este Nino que es sol del aurora, Drei Kon'ge wandern aus Morgenland, Senores el qu'es nascido, Vox in Rama, Hodie puer nascitur, Ab Oriente, In the bleak mid-winter, A Penas nace este Nino, A Voice from Ramah, Balaam de quo vaticinans, Quae stella sole pulchrior

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7936c | 1 CD | $15.98 | A Cappella || Boys Choirs CDs


New York Polyphony : I Sing the Birth

Review: New York Polyphony is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the finest new classical vocal ensembles. Fusing elegant vocalism with expert ensemble singing, its four male voices consistently deliver dynamic performances of music spanning nearly a millennium in a range of styles, combining historically-informed interpretive style with their own unique artistry. From the simplicity of plainchant to the dense chromaticism of contemporary works, the New York Polyphony sound is unified, energized and distinctive. The musical landscape traversed on this disc of music for the Advent and Christmas season is broad, from 12th century conductus to a 21st century carol, though the musical center is firmly polyphonic and rooted in the late Medieval world. The group is joined by a women's trio in several works written for more than four parts. The sound is clean and present, with appropriate resonance for this material. For the listener looking for a collection of contemplative Christmas music that steers clear of the most obvious selections and introduces intriguing new repertoire, as well as for the fan of early music vocal ensembles, this album has much to offer.

Songlist: Veni Redemptor gentium, Hodie Christus natus est, Hodie Christus natus est, Puer natus est nobis, Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child, Beata viscera, Ave Maria Mater Dei, Alma Redemptoris mater, The darkest midnight in December, The Fader of Heven, Vox in Rama, Vox in Rama, Vox in Rama, Away in a manger, Ave Maria, Coventry Carol, Ave Maria, Lullay, lullow, I saw a swete semly syght, Mervele noght, Josep, Nowell: Dieus wous garde, byewsser, Veni Redemptor gentium, O magnum mysterium, Ecce advenit dominator Dominus, Magi veniunt ab oriente, Nunc dimittis, Vox in Rama

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8761c | 1 CD | $16.95 | A Cappella || Men's Choir Christmas


Orlando Consort : Alleluia Nativitas

Review: Music & Carols for a Medieval Christmas. The music on this recording goes back to the very origins of musical composition. The centerpiece, Perotin's Viderunt omnes, can also be said to mark the beginning of the concept of musical history, since it is one of the first pieces whose precise details of performance (place, date and context) are known, carefully recorded and preserved for the information of future generations.

Songlist: Novus Annus Hodie , Ut Iam Cessit , Fulget Dies Celebris , Vetus Abit Littera , Procedenti Puero , Mater Dei Salus Rei , In Sompnis Mira , Huic Et Placuit , Viderunt Omnes , Angelus Ad Virginem , Flos Regalis , Beata Viscera , Orientis Partibus , Salve Sancta Parens , Virgo Maria , Edi Beo Thu , Super Te Jerusalem , O Nobilis Nativitas , There Is No Rose , St Thomas Honour We , Nowell, Nowell: The Boare's Head

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7934c | 1 CD | $15.98 | A Cappella |


Orlando Consort : Medieval Christmas

Review: Although Medieval Christmas celebrations primarily consisted of over-eating, flirtation, hunting and drinking, each day began with a mass. Sacred and secular traditions and customs were often intertwined as part of a season of celebration which culminated with the feast of the Epiphany. On this new CD, the Orlando Consort offers an unusual & wide-ranging collection of secular and liturgical music from England, France and the Low Countries. To read the texts of these pieces is to un-knot the various traditions that are otherwise confused by today's pick-and-mix carol concerts. While not strictly chronological, the disc is divided into five sections - Prophecy, New Year's Day, The Carol, Narrative Motets and Noel - which illustrate key themes of the music of this period.

Songlist: Christe redemptor , Alleluia V. Dies sanctificatus, Lux refulget, Annus renascitur, De quan qu'on peut, Tout mon desir, Ce jour de l'an , Ave rex angelorum, Eya, martyr Stephane, Vox in Rama , Lullay, lullow: I saw a swete semely sight, O admirabile commercium, Pastores loquebantur , Noel, noel, noel , Noe, noe, noe , Nato canunt omnia , Quem lohannes, O primus homo corruit, Clangat tuba

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8446c | 1 CD | $18.98 | A Cappella |


Oxford Camerata : Medieval Carols : 00  1 CD : Jeremy Summerly :  : 8550751

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Riu riu chiu

Oxford Camerata : Medieval Carols

Review: In 15th-century England a tradition grew up for the composition of polyphonic carols. None of them is ascribed to a specific composer or poet, neither is their function completely understood. The form is that of alternating verses and burdens (refrains), the language generally being a mixture of Latin and English. The majority of the carols have sacred texts and it is possible that these were designed for liturgical use. Others are moralistic or celebratory and were possibly used to enliven feasts and banquets in aristocratic households or for recreational purposes at educational establishments. This CD is (along with the selection of songs from the Piae Cantiones) the Camerata's smallest-scale recording project. Only four voices are used throughout (Rebecca Outram, Deborah Mackay, Philip Cave, and Jeremy Summerly) although one of the tracks does also involve Jeremy Summerly playing the tambourine! The Christmas spirit was well captured by arranging to record this CD in December in sub-zero temperatures. The project attracted much attention and ulitmately resulted in the milennial publication of a volume of medieval songs and carols by Faber Music entitled Passetime with good company!

Songlist: Ave Maria, What Tiding's Bringest Thou, O Virdissima Virga, Alma Redemptoris Mater, Deo Gracias Anglia, Be Merry Be Merry, Riu Riu Chiu, There Is No Rose, Planctus Guillelmus, Eya Mater Stephane, Gaudate Christus Est Natus, Hail Mary Full Of Grace, Now We May Singen, Nowell Sing We, Planctus David

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8456c | 1 CD | $12.98 | A Cappella |


Pomerium : Old World Christmas

Review: There is nothing quite like the sounds of Medieval and Renaissance music echoing through a church. This recording of Christmas music from these periods captures that feeling. Pomerium led by Alex Blachly gives engaging performances of motets with the original chants. Selections include several versions of Praetorious' "In dulci jubilo," Byrd's "Puer natus est" for four voices and "Preter rerum seriem" by Josquin. This is wonderful to listen to regardless of the season.

Songlist: In dulci jubilo (anon), In dulci jubilo a2,3,4 (Michael Praetorius), Resonet in laudibus (anon), Preter rerum seriem (anon), Preter rerum seriem a6 (Josquin Desprez), Conditor alme siderum (anon / Guillaume du Fay), Puer natus est a4 (William Byrd), O Sapientia (anon), Magnificat secundi toni a5 (William Horwood), O Sapientia a5 (Robert Ramsey), Quem vidistis pastores (anon), Quem vidistis pastores a7 (Cipriano de Rore), Alma redemptoris mater (anon / Sarum), Alma redemptoris mater a4 (Johannes Ockeghem), Reges Tharsis et insulae a4 (William Byrd)

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7094c | 1 CD | $11.98 | A Cappella |


Rose Ensemble : Slavic Holiday

Review: The Rose Ensemble's third recording features music from medieval and Renaissance Poland and Czechoslovakia, including motets from the Prague manuscript Codex Specialnik and several lovely spiritual songs extolling the virtues of various Slavic saints and heroes. The Rose Ensemble, based in Minneapolis/St. Paul, handles this material with great skill and grace. Their vocal tone is bright yet warm, and their articulation is clear and crisp. This is interesting music from a part of the world we've just begun to explore. This music is at once familiar and exotic.

Songlist: O Beate Stanislae , Beata es virgo, Nobis est natus hodie, In natali Domini, Beatus Adalbertus, Per merita sancti Adalberti, Alme presul et beate, Poslan jest od Boha andel, Magnificat, Dies est Laetitiae, Stala se jest vec divna, De Nativitate Domino, Hospodine, Pomiluj Ny, Pisen o Koncilu Kostnickem, Primo Tempore , Svaty Vaclave, Dulce Melos, Salve pater optime, Decet huius cuntis horis

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7906c | 1 CD | $15.98 |


Sixteen : Christmas Music from Medieval & Renaissance

Review: A fine collection of Christmas music from medieval and renaissance Europe by this highly accomplished choir under the direction of Harry Christophers. Many works from England including the stunning Tallis composition "Videte Miraculuum' and several carols from Europe including those by Jacob Handl, Jean Mouton and Orlandus Lassus.

Songlist: Puer Natus Est Nobis, Nowell Nowell In Bethlehem, Gaudete, Nesciens Mater , The Song Of The Nuns Of Chester, Coventry Carol, The Boar's Head Carol, Videte Miraculum, Quem Pastores Laudavere, Pueri Concinite , O Magnum Mysterium, Resonet In Laudibus , In Dulci Jubilo, Riu Riu Chiu, Nesciens Mater , Omnes De Saba

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8445c | 1 CD | $18.98 | A Cappella |


Sixteen : Christus Natus Est - An Early English Christmas

Review: Amongst the exhaustive catalogue of recordings devoted to Christmas music, this particular example - focusing on works written in England during the Middle Ages and Renaissance - can be warmly recommended indeed. The performances, as ever by this superb choir, are polished and beautifully executed, and the program is varied both in terms of the selection of pieces (carols, motets, ballads, chant...) and also in the interpretations (usually choir or consort but sometimes 1 singer, occasionally accompanied by instruments - harp, lute, rebec/fiddle, drums). Furthermore, a number of the tracks constitute probably the best available performances of certain works.

Songlist: Verbum caro, Salutation Carol, Nowell, sing we, both all and some, Gaudete, Hail Mary full of Grace, Gloria in excelsis, There is no rose, Nowell, nowell: Out of your sleep, Remember O thou man, Quid petis, O Fili?, Sweet was the song, Lullaby my sweet little baby, Are rex angelorum, Drive the cold winter away, Nowell, nowell: The boares head, The old year now has passed away, Angelus ad Virginem, Nowell, nowell: Dieu vous garde, Make we joy, Verbum caro

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8749c | 1 CD | $14.95 | A Cappella |


Sixteen : Hodie - An English Christmas Collection

Review: The recordings of The Sixteen have been treasured by collectors of superb choral music Hodie is a beautifully programmed disc of seasonal music from England's greatest composers Featured are perennial favorites by William Walton, Edmund Rubbra, John Tavener, Herbert Howells, and Peter Warlock and as a very special centerpiece, one of the all time critically acclaimed performances of Benjamin Britten's ever-popular A Ceremony of Carols.

Songlist: Make we joy now in this fest , Coventry Carol , A babe is born, The Virgin's Cradle Song , A Hymn to the Virgin, The Lamb, A Ceremony of Carols , Sing Lullaby, Lute book lullaby , A Spotless Rose, Corpus Christi , Balulalow , Benedicamus Domino , Tomorrow shall be my dancing day

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7001c | 1 CD | $15.98 | A Cappella || Mixed Choir Christmas CDs


Tallis Scholars : Christmas Carols & Motets

Review: Recorded at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Norfolk, England, this collection of medieval carols, renaissance motets and German chorales by this English mixed ensemble is devout, harkening back to to a time centuries past. Performed with as much allegiance to the original forms as possible, these are simple arrangements, many of which would have been sung by the populus at large, in commemoration of religious occasions. Four settings of "Ave Maria," two attributed to Victoria and one to Des Pres among them, are represented; musically, this ubiquituous homage to the blessed Virgin was distinguished by variations in rhythm, texture and so forth. A peaceful and serene recording.

Songlist: Medieval Carols, Angelus Ad Virginem, Nowell Sing We, There Is No Rose, Nowell: Dieu Vous Garde, The Coventry Carol, Lullay: I saw, Lully, Lulla Thou Little Tiny Child, Lullaby by William Byrd, Settings Of Ave Maria, Ave Maria for four voices by Josquin Des Pres, Beata Es Virgo / Ave Maria for seven voices by Philippe Verdelot, For four voices attributed to Victoria, For double choir by Victoria, German Chorales, Es Ist Ein' Ros', Joseph Lieber, In Dulci Jubilo, Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme

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6203c | 1 CD | $15.98 || Mixed Choir Christmas CDs


Tallis Scholars : Sarum Chant

Review: The Sarum Use was a medieval variant of the Roman Catholic liturgy originating at Salisbury and used throughout pre-Reformation England. The plainchant on this recording is from the First Mass of Christmas, known as the Mass at Cock-crow.

Songlist: Missa In Gallicantu, Christe Redemptor Omnium, Veni, Redemptor Gentium, Salvator Mundi, Domine, A Solis Ortis Cardine

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7207c | 1 CD | $16.98 |


Tudor Choir : Fair With Her First Born

Review: The music on this recording spans many centuries, including 20th-century carols, Tudor polyphony, and chant from medieval England's Sarum rite. Producing a choral sound that is distinctly English in heritage, the Tudor Choir sings this music with intelligence and heart. Shape note music, Shaker songs, Sheppard, Tallis, and Victoria.

Songlist: Out fo your sleep , Verbum caro , The truth from above , Ave maris Stella , Gabriel's Message , Ecce Virgo Concipiet , There is no rose of such virtue, A solis ortus cardine , Eterne Laudis Lilium, Christe, Redemptor omnium , Make we jow now in this fest , Nesciens mater , In The Bleak Mid-Winter, Reges Tharsis , Bethlehem Down , Salvator mundi, Domine , The blessed Song of God

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7338c | 1 CD | $15.98 || Mixed Choir Christmas CDs


Various Artists : Gregorian Christmas Chants

Review: A truly Gregorian Christmas album, this prayerful recording of seven different chant choirs includes the Benedictine Abbeys of Montserrat, Maumont, Einsiedeln, the Dominican Schola of France, the Paris Gregorian Choir and more. Outstanding performances of 23 chants for Masses and other liturgical events on Christmas Eve, Christmas Night and Christmas Day.

Songlist: Christmas Eve, Antiphone: Judaea Et Jerusalem, Reponsory: Salve VIrginale, Antiphon Completi Sunt Dies Mariae, Christmas Night, Responsory Hodie Nobis De Caelo, Reading: Genealogy According to Saint Matthew, Responsory: Verbum Caro, Introit: Dominus Dixit Ad Me, Kyrie IV, Offertory: Laetentur Caeli, Agnus Dei IV, Offertory: Laetentur Caeli, Agnus Dei IV, Communion: In Splendoribus, Christmas Day, Hymn: A Solis Ortus Cardine, Mass of the Day, Introit: Puer Natus Est Nobis, Kyrie XI, Gloria XI, Gradual: Viderunt Omnes Fines Terrae, Alleluia: Dies Sanctificatus, Offertory Tui Sunt Caeli, Sanctus XI, Agnus Dei XI, Communion: Viderunt Omnes Fines Terrae, Antiphon: Natus Est Nobis Hodie, Alma Redemptoris Mater

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8706c | 1 CD | $8.95 | A Cappella |


Tallis Scholars : Christmas with The Tallis Scholars

Review: This two discs set includes selections of the best of previous Tallis Scholars Christmas recordings and includes medieval carols, German chorale harmonisations, complete polyphonic settings of the Mass based on Christmas themes, and motets dedicated to Mary and Joseph. Disc one includes the monumental Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis and the motet it parodies, both by the Flemish composer Jacob Clemens non Papa. The style of both the motet and the Mass is typical of Clemens's conservative interpretation of the Flemish way of composition, unfolding with great deliberation, every clause of words being given its own exposition in the polyphony. It is a classic style, capable of the greatest subtlety and variation of expression, while always inviting the listener to search more deeply into the music. Clemens uses a five-voice choir SSATB except in the final movement where he adds a second bass part. The second disc is dedicated much more specifically to plainchant, and music based on chant. It begins with the contents of the only record The Tallis Scholars have so far made of chant alone. This collection consisted entirely of music written for Christmas, beginning with the complete Mass 'at cockcrow' or 'in gallicantu'. This would have been celebrated at daybreak on Christmas Eve, and is taken from the Sarum rite. It begins with an Introit which moves straight into a troped Kyrie, the trope 'Deus Creator omnium' actually replacing the original words 'Kyrie eleison' and running to nine invocations (a 'trope' could be either a musical or a textual addition to traditional material). The Gloria begins with an intonation from the altar, the bulk of the text following in the syllabic style of the Kyrie. In addition to the Mass included are four hymns proper to the different Offices for Christmas Day: Christe Redemptor omnium is from Matins; Veni, Redemptor gentium is from Vespers; Salvator mundi, Domine is from Compline, and A solis ortus cardine from Lauds. These are amongst the best-known plainchant hymn tunes, which may often be heard today whether in Latin or the venacular. The disc also includes Tallis's Missa Puer natus est nobis, which is based on the Christmas plainchant of the same name.

Songlist: Medieval Carols, Angelus ad virginem, Nowell sing we, There is no rose, The Coventry Carol, Lullay: I saw, Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child, Ave Maria for four voices, Beata es virgo/Ave Maria, Ave Maria for four voices, Ave Maria for double choir, German Chorales, Es ist ein Ros', Joseph, lieber Joseph mein , In dulci jubilo, Flemish Polyphony, Pastores quidnam vidistis, Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis, Chant from Salisbury , Missa in gallicantu, Christe Redemptor ominum, Veni, Redemptor gentium, Salvator mundi, Domine, A solis ortus cardine, Missa Puer natus est nobis

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7879c | 2 CDs | $19.98 | A Cappella |


Stile Antico : Puer Natus Est - Tudor Music for Advent and Christmas

Review: Stile Antico's program centers on Thomas Tallis's magnificent seven-part Christmas Mass, based on the festive plainchant Puer natus est ('A boy is born'). The mass is interspersed with seasonal Tudor music, including William Byrd's exquisite Propers for the fourth Sunday of Advent, responsories by Taverner and Sheppard, Robert White's exuberant setting of the Magnificat, and Tallis's own sublime Videte miraculum.

Songlist: Videte miraculum, Audivi vocem de caelo, Rorate caeli desuper (Gradualia I, 1605), Gloria (Missa Puer natus est), Tollite portas (Gradualia I), Sanctus & Benedictus (Missa puer natus est), Ave Maria (Gradualia I), Agnus Dei (Missa Puer natus est), Ecce virgo concipiet (Gradualia I), Magnificat, Puer natus est, Verbum caro

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2372c | SACD | $17.95 | A Cappella |


Anthony G. Petti (Editor) : Christmas and Advent Motets for 4 Voices

Review: The volumes of this expanding series are devoted to a wide range of sacred renaissance motets with Latin texts, and contain a mixture of well known and unfamiliar pieces, some of which are published for the first time.

Songlist: O Magnum Mysterium, Magi Veniut Ab Oriente, Verbum Caro Factum Est, Rorate Caelli, Dixit Maria, Ecce Virgo Concipies, Hodie Christus Natus Est, Dies Sanctificatus, Omnis Mundus Jocundetur, Prope Est Dominus, Ave Gratia Plena, Ne Timeas Maria

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7710b | Songbook | $13.95 | SATB || Early Music Vocal Arrangements


Christopher Morris : A Sixteenth-Century Anthem Book

Review: A collection of anthems for unaccompanied SATB chorus.

Songlist: Lift up your heads, O ye gates, O Lord, the maker of all things , Rejoice in the Lord alway, This is the day, Deliver us, O Lord our God, Let my complaint come before thee, Lord, we beseech thee, O sing joyfully , When the Lord turned again, Sacerdotes Domini, Nolo mortem peccatoris , Benedictus qui venit , Holy, Holy, Holy, Audivi vocem de coelo, O Lord, give thy Holy Spirit , O pray for the peace of Jerusalem, O God be merciful , Sing unto the Lord , Exsultate justi, Of the glorious Body telling

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6730b | Songbook | $19.95 | SATB | A Cappella |


Jeremy Summerly : Passetime with Good Company

Review: A fascinating collection exploring the musical riches from a most colorful period, the Middle Ages. Reflecting the atmosphere of a time where disease and sudden death were counterbalanced by faith and 'joie de vivre', this volume contrasts sacred settings such as the ever-popular Gaudete Christus Est Natus and previously unpublished Jesu Dulcis Memoria with such medieval secular classics as Sumer Is Icumen In, Agincourt Carol and the celebratory Passetime With Good Company.

Songlist: Gaudete Christus Est Natus , Jesu Dulcis Memoria , Sumer Is Icumen In, Agincourt Carol, Passetime With Good Company, Coventry Carol

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7295b | Songbook | $6.50 | SATB | A Cappella || Early Music Vocal Arrangements


Kirby Shaw : A Renaissance Christmas

Review: Traditional carols arranged by the highly-regarded Kirby Shaw as for a Renaissance choral performance. Fun and assessable for all choirs.

Songlist: Here We Come a-Caroling, Good Christian Men Rejoice, Ding Dong, Merrily On High, What Child Is This, God Rest Ye Gentlemen, Deck The Hall, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Bring a Torch, Rejoice

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9606b | Songbook | $2.95 | SATB | A Cappella || Early Music Vocal Arrangements


Noah Greenberg : Three Spanish Christmas Carols of the Sixteenth Century

Review: Now available for the first time in a single publication, these are the popular editions of three Renaissance works Noah Greenberg prepared for New York Pro Musica. Perform them as a set or individually.

Songlist: E la don don, Vegas Maria, Dadme albricias, hijos d'Eva, Riu Riu Chiu

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7217b | Songbook | $2.95 | SATB | A Cappella || Christmas World Music Arrangements


Various Arrangers : Carols of the Middle Ages

Review: The New Oxford Book of Carols (1992) was born of the need for a practical collection presenting carols either in their original versions (where such a concept was relevant) or in versions that respected the essential character of the melodies and their texts. The original 700-page book, which contains alternative versions of many carols, also offers an extensive historical introduction and notes to individual carols, from which the information below is summarized. The word "carol" has had a variety of meanings, starting as a dance-song in the Middle Ages. Carols are now almost exclusively associated with Christmas, and their subject-matter is either midwinter cheer, or the conception and birth of Christ. While modern secular practice is to sing them before Christmas, they formerly belonged to the period between Christmas eve and Epiphany. Our own criteria for selecting carols re that the content must be narrative, contemplative or celebratory, the spirit simple, the form normally strophic.

Songlist: Veni, Redemptor Gencium, Angelus Ad Virginem, Verbum Caro Factu Est: In Hoc Anni Circulo, Verbum Patris Umanatur, Qui Creavit Celum, Corde Natus Ex Parentis

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9646b | Songbook | $4.50 | SATB | A Cappella || Early Music Vocal Arrangements


Various Arrangers : Early Music for Christmas

Review: The carol text "The Burning Babe" is by the same sixteenth-century poet--Robert Southwell--as the better-known "This Little Babe." Like its sister text, it explores an unusual metaphor for the infant Jesus--in this case, a refining fire which purifies the believer. The strophic setting, with soprano solo, is dissonant and chromatic, with edgy rhythms: a fine selection to balance against sweeter Christmas settings. This raucous arrangement of "Wassailin'" with "doo-wah" patterns goes "all over the town" in its depiction of a rowdy Christmas feast. Try it as a change of pace at a madrigal dinner! Choral drones, small percussion, and canon are some of the simple but extremely effective devices in this arrangement of "Puer Nobis Nascitur" in 6/8 time. This piece will make a fine processional for your Christmas concert. This gentle, homophonic setting of "Dormi, Jesu!", with its low tessitura and repeated rhythmic pattern, would definitely comfort the baby. This piece is perfect for setting a quiet mood for a Christmas service or concert. "O Regem Coeli " - This loveliest of all Christmas motets for upper voices, long out of print in the U.S., is newly edited from the original print of 1572, with literal word-by-word and prose translations and keyboard reduction.

Songlist: Dormi, Jesu!, Wassailin', O Regem Coeli , The Burning Babe, Puer Nobis Nascitur

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8038b | Sheet Music | $8.50 | SSAA Upper | A Cappella || Early Music Vocal Arrangements

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