Recorded between 1969 and 2004, the 51 selections on Classic Christmas Carols are sacred standards of the holiday, yet presented with such uneven sound quality and unpredictable volume levels that fans of this music may find this EMI double-disc hard to sit through without frequent adjustments. Granted, the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, is one of the world's finest men-and-boys ensembles, and one can hardly improve on the subtle direction of David Willcocks, Philip Ledger, and Stephen Cleobury, all celebrated in the field of choral conducting. The repertoire will be familiar to most, though it naturally leans toward favorites in the Anglican Church, and the atmosphere around the choir and organ arrangements -- in some cases with brass -- is decidedly ecclesiastical. But this is where many audio problems begin, because the recording of choirs in church settings creates problems in recording set-ups, depending on acoustic conditions, and the choices made by different sound engineers vary widely and can be quite noticeable. The combination of ADD and DDD recordings yields mixed results and makes the album difficult for focused home listening. However, if it is played as background music for parties or other festive gatherings, it will lend a joyous holiday feeling without losing too much effect in the softer tracks.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (adapted by W. H. Cummings from Mendelssohn's Festgesang for the Gutenberg Festival)
Track Listing - Disc 2
And All in the Morning ("On Christmas Day"), carol for chorus or voice & piano (Traditional English Carols No. 1)