Owain Park is a rapidly rising figure on the British scene, with dual competence as an ensemble leader and a composer. In addition to appearances with collegiate and cathedral choirs, he leads his own small group, the Gesualdo Six, which here offers a holiday album as its sophomore release. It's both original in concept and beautifully executed. Whereas the usual programming divides a concert or album into sections of Renaissance and contemporary music, Park mixes them up. He then adds medieval carols rooted in chant, like the opening Veni Emmanuel. The subtext is that English music from medieval times to John Rutter, and for that matter Park (who gives himself just one piece here), is a single unbroken tradition, and the position has rarely been so forcefully and attractively argued. Park gets from his Gesualdo Six (he sings bass) a lyrical madrigalesque style that can, in a few of the modern pieces and in the delightful Jingle Bells at the end, shade off into scoopy King's Singers devices. The group is also crystal clear in the dissonances of the medieval settings and in the harmonic complexities of Bach's rendering of In dulci iubilo. The Gesualdo Six already command a wide range of repertory, and one breathlessly awaits what this young group will do next. As it is, this is among the strongest holiday releases of 2019.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim