All I Want

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As a quick follow-up to their self-titled debut album, the eight-member female choral group Aliqua from Vancouver, Canada, released a holiday collection, All I Want. The singers, sopranos Erin Bishop, Katy Cadman, Heather Ray, and Amy Stevenson, and altos Sarah Jane Bird, Tavia Cosper, Ellie Lesani, and Alice Schwarz, are determined both to address traditional Christmas fare and to transform it, so they do some extensive rearranging here. The best example may be "All Is Calm," credited to Schubert because it is really the composer's "Ave Maria" transformed. Bishop's arrangement borrows lyrics from other Christmas songs and mixes them with the Latin originals, while also taking the music and reharmonizing it so that the melody is more an underlying factor than the dominant sound. Then, there's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker, with the singers taking over the instrumental parts with wordless sounds. (For good measure, the album ends with a dance remix of the tune dubbed "Sugafunscary.") "Silent Night" (aka "Still Nacht") has a pedal steel guitar applied to it behind Aliqua's haunting vocal parts. And "The Little Babe," excerpted from Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols, becomes a flamenco, complete with Spanish guitar. Occasionally, Aliqua play things straight, especially when, as in "Carol of the Bells," the tune, with its rapid tempo, is challenging enough as written. But they are determined not to fall back on their angelic voices to create a conventional holiday collection; instead, they want to shake things up, and they largely succeed.

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