The Cambridge Singers, under the direction of conductor and composer John Rutter, are justly famous for their Christmas recordings. Other artists and ensembles make Christmas albums that have more swing, more charm, more energy -- but if you want pure, unadulterated, tear-in-the-eye Christmas Eve devotional spirit, there's nothing that compares to a Cambridge Singers album. Recognizing that fact, the group has made quite a few of them, and all are more or less interchangeable. Christmas Night is certainly as good a place to start as any; opening with a warm and slightly slower-than-usual take on the traditional German carol "In Dulci Jubilo," then proceeding through a surprisingly varied program of songs from British, Italian, American, German, and Basque sources, including the inevitable handful of pieces by Rutter himself. There are wonderful settings of the traditional "Cherry Tree Carol" (in which Mary, pregnant and craving cherries, gets a peevish response from Joseph, who suggests that whoever got her pregnant should pick cherries for her, at which point Jesus remonstrates Joseph from within the womb and commands the cherry trees to bow down for Mary so she can pick from them) and "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day," as well as a very fine Italian carol called "Once, As I Remember" and a Renaissance piece by Samuel Scheidt called "O Little One Sweet." And Rutter's tunes are, typically, ripe and fulsome and gushing in that idiosyncratically British neo-romantic way. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson