In 1990, Richard Hickox recorded Ralph Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on Christmas Carols and Hodie: A Christmas Cantata for EMI, two holiday choral favorites that complement each other well, despite having been created more than four decades apart. The subdued, folk-inspired quality of much of Vaughan Williams' music remained more or less constant through the years in his choral writing, so even though he adopted a more sophisticated and sometimes astringent style in later years, including irregular rhythms and spiky dissonances that never would have passed in the music of his youth, there is a common thread in his choices of modes and harmonies that unites both cantatas. On this CD, the modestly scored and rather short Fantasia serves as a serene introduction for the fairly symphonic and dynamic Hodie, which comes just under an hour in length. Both works receive their due from Hickox, who leads the London Symphony Chorus and the Choristers of St. Paul with the London Symphony Orchestra with reverent pacing, but also shapes phrases with a smooth lyricism that befits their mood of quiet joy. EMI's recording is detailed and focused, so every note can clearly be heard.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Hodie (This Day), Christmas cantata for soprano, tenor, baritone, boys' chorus, chorus & orchestra|