The Holy & the Holly -- or The Holly & the Holy, if this reversible double disc is flipped over -- is a collection of the Turtle Creek Chorale's favorite Christmas carols, evenly divided between sacred and secular songs. Since 1980, the group has regularly made holiday celebrations a part of its performing schedule, and this package is drawn from its concert and studio recordings, made over a 13-year period. The all-male vocal ensemble's sound may be too rich for some tastes, and perhaps over-sweetened in these lush, sentimental arrangements, but this is the kind of "eggnog and plum-pudding" fare one expects for Yuletide, so some of that sweetness should be expected. More troubling is the poor recording quality, which puts the Turtle Creek Chorale at a considerable distance from the microphones and leaves the uncredited orchestra ill-defined. Beyond the brass and bells that stand out a bit too prominently, little of the strings and woodwinds can be heard distinctly. Unless one has developed a particular fondness for this popular group, or has a preference for soft, unobtrusive Christmas music for background listening, this mild compilation is unlikely to satisfy the average listener, mostly because the reproduction is so unclear.
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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)
Song of the Faithful (based on the carols O Come All Ye Faithful and Dona Nobis Pacem), for chorus & orchestra
Track Listing - Disc 2