The title Advent Carols doesn't give the casual browser much of an idea of what's going on here. It's true, there are some Advent carols, but they don't make up the majority of the music on the program, which also mixes in plainchant, English Renaissance polyphony, and contemporary works. The program as a whole is a representative sampling of the music presented at the annual Choir of King's College London Advent services. It's not a live album, and the music was recorded not at the King's College chapel (despite the photos in the graphics) but at All Hallows' Church, Gospel Oak, London. It doesn't hurt a bit. This church is ideal for medium-sized choirs like this one, and the choir sounds great and puts the words across clearly. Director Joseph Fort chooses his modern repertory well in terms of displaying the choir's strengths, like the superb pianissimo in Philip Moore's Sancte et sapienter, and the program as a whole gives an idea of why this choir's Advent concerts have become so popular: they don't just mix English music of different eras, but they also thoroughly incorporate the modern pieces into the flow of things and make a strong case for them. Cecilia McDowall's Advent Moon is a particularly lovely example. This was one of the strongest releases of the 2019 holiday season and seems a good bet to maintain its success.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim