Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sing Thee Nowell -- Yearround Pleasure

New York Polyphony's release "Sing Thee Nowell" is a little unusual. Despite its name, this is a release I'll be enjoying throughout the year.

The ensemble's carefully chosen program includes many songs of the season, but few that have been done to death. Even the more familiar carols are heard in new and innovative arrangements.

The disc opens with Andrew Smith's arrangement of "Veni Emmanuel," which highlights the medieval origins of the tune.

From there, the group moves easily through renaissance works from composers such as Verdelot, Victoria, and Clemens "non Papa." They also perform with equal ease contemporary works by composers such Andrew Smith, John Scott, and Michael McGlynn.

A high point of the recording is "Five Carols" by Richard Rodney Bennett. The beautiful and complex harmonies of these carols seem tailor-made for the clear tone and seamless blend of New York Polyphony's ensemble sound.

Most of the works are in Latin, which is why I'll be enjoying this disc all year. Since the seasonal messages of the text are lost on me, I can just listen to the beauty of the performances -- even in the middle of summer.

This album is available in SACD format. If you appreciate vocal artistry, I recommend you purchasing it in this format. The added detail draws you into the ensemble, and you can hear just how good each of these singers are.

Sing The Nowell
New York Polyphony

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