Vasari Singers

A Winter's Light

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London's Vasari Singers, an all-adult, mixed-gender chamber choir of about 25 voices, specialize in programs that link together material from various historical periods, mixing it together rather than presenting it in segments. This Christmas album, their second in five years, is an enjoyable outing that gives a good example of what the group is about, and the prospective buyer can simultaneously sample their work and get a hold of a fresh group of Christmas pieces. The Vasari Singers have made strides vocally over their two decades of existence, and you can sample one of the more harmonically limpid pieces like John Rutter's Nativity Carol (track 16) to get a taste of the soprano section's impressive purity of tone. But it is the variety of the program, constantly shifting among styles but logically put together, that is the main attraction. A cappella pieces from the British early 20th century have been put together with Renaissance classics before, but the Vasari Singers and leader Jeremy Backhouse add new elements to the mix, including examples of the contemporary British crossover school and at the end, some great Swingle Singers-style arrangements of popular carols (Jingle Bells, track 17, is the cleverest one). It doesn't seem as though this material, even with its Christmas theme, should hang together, but it does so. The fine acoustic environment of the Tonbridge School Chapel adds consistency and depth.

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