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Rad Bennett, December 2005

A Christmas Choral Spectacular
Musical Performance 4/5
Sound Quality 3.5/5
Overall Enjoyment 3.5/5

There have been so many recordings of holiday music using large chorus and orchestra that it’s difficult to avoid clichés in making a new one. But A Christmas Choral Spectacular sidesteps the overly familiar, and the credit for this must go to conductor Peter Breiner, who wrote all of the arrangements. Though there are moments of grandeur, the overall tone of the arrangements of the more familiar carols is more pastoral than is usual for this sort of collection. This allows a spirit to grow throughout the program that achieves a feeling of cumulative joy in the final, resounding, resplendent arrangement of "The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy." Along the way are some less familiar carols, such as "The Infant King" and "Little Jesus Sweetly Slept." The sound is very reverberant, with a long echo decay, yet the up-front balance is good and reasonably transparent. The perspective seems to be from about halfway back in the hall of the recording venue (in Poole, UK). Naxos is releasing this on multichannel DVD-Audio in the UK, but not in the US. If you Google it, you can find and order it as an import.

Geoffrey Norris
The Daily Telegraph (Australia), April 2004

UK Naxos Quotes December 2004
"The singing and orchestral playing are full of good cheer."

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