Some may be suspicious of this release due to its dubious provenance: it comes not from one of the established British labels nor from the boys' Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford, itself. Instead it is marketed by a label called The Gift of Music issued by the still sketchier-sounding Classical Communications Ltd. The booklet does not enlighten you further as to where this recording came from and who stands to profit from it, stating only that it was recorded on a pair of occasions in 2011 and 2012. As it happens, your fears are groundless. The choir, a group that goes back to the days of Henry VII, has a fine sound: not so squeaky pure as some of its competition but accurate as to pitch, with not only clear articulation but the elusive quality of seeming to think about what everyone is singing. The program is the usual mix of heavy late Romantic British music, crowd-pleasers by the likes of Rutter, Renaissance and Baroque works, and arrangements of traditional carols, but the proportion is slanted toward lighter material. Organist Daniel Hyde contributes some substantial Bach performances that are more than interludes, and the satisfying impression of the whole is completed by an elegant set of booklet notes. A well-above-average holiday release.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
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