It has been interesting to observe the development of Boston's time-honored Handel and Haydn Society since its engagement of Britain's Harry Christophers as conductor. Christophers has certainly broadened his reach beyond the Renaissance music and British 20th century fare that have been his stock-in-trade with the British choir the Sixteen, but it's also true that the Handel and Haydn Society has been pulled in a British direction. Those expecting a selection of American Christmas favorites will get a few of them, including "O little town of Bethlehem" and "Angels we have heard on high." But you also get standard British carols by likes of Bob Chilcott, John Rutter, and Herbert Howells that are beautifully done but only glancingly American. The rest is an eclectic mix that includes Ives, Hieronymus Praetorius, and the ubiquitous Carol of the Bells. The varied quality may be very much to your liking, for indeed that is what defines American musical culture in the end, and if that's what you're looking for, proceed with confidence. You'll be hearing sound that's exceptional even by the high standards of Christophers' catalog, recorded at the studios of Boston classical radio station WGBH. If you're looking for familiar Christmas carols to sing along with, however, keep looking.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim