Matthew Berry / Commotio

The Rose in the Middle of Winter: Carols by Bob Chilcott

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British composer Bob Chilcott is in the running to become heir to John Rutter with his limpid, well-wrought, harmonically restricted choral pieces drawn on a variety of sources. That's a lucrative niche, and Chilcott is positioning himself well: if you like Rutter, you'll probably like Chilcott. His style is distilled down to its essence with this collection of carols, all composed between 2007 and 2013. Chilcott resets some familiar texts (try O Little Town of Bethlehem, track 12), which given the variable relationship between text and music in general worship music in the past is really not a bad idea; listeners will hear the very familiar texts afresh. Silent Night (track 19) is modified only in the harmonic setting, and elsewhere there are novel choices of texts, not least the use of an Emily Dickinson poem in the midst of the hymn O magnum mysterium (track 22). Perhaps the biggest attraction here is the work of the British chamber choir Commotio. Chilcott came up through the King's College Choir, but the smaller Commotio, beautifully recorded here at Oxford's Keble College Chapel, shows the smoothness of his part-writing even in small details. Provided there is tolerance of sentiment with Christmas music, this is a recommended holiday release.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 5:45
2 2:49
3 2:59
4 2:50
5 3:47
6 3:41
7 3:31
On Christmas Night
8 2:58
9 1:45
10 3:48
11 1:58
12 3:32
13 3:51
14 1:55
15 3:19
16 4:16
17 3:54
18 2:32
19 3:51
20 5:27
21 3:45
22 7:02
blue highlight denotes track pick