There's been word that with the decline in the age of puberty, the classic boychoir sound is getting more difficult to obtain. There's little evidence of that, though, in this release by the London choir Libera, recorded at Armagh Cathedral (otherwise known as St. Patrick's Cathedral Armagh). The group is only moderately well-known, and the album's genesis seems to have been the result of strong promotion by its conductor, Robert Prizeman (who, moreover, does not even have his name listed on the cover); the recording is copyrighted by him and licensed to the Warner Classics label. One Tony Wass is credited with "Recording" (not Engineering or any of the yet more technical terms that have arisen), and he did an extraordinary job: the focus is on the choristers, close up, and they are clear, fully intelligible, and able to display their terrific articulation. At the same time, many layers of instrumental accompaniment are heard clearly, in a manner that suggests much more elaborate multitrack recording than has in fact been used. Hear the bang-up finale to In dulci jubilo (track 4). This combination isn't easy to pull off. As for the choir itself, they have a pleasantly light sound that keeps on top of the pitch and has a nice consistent surface even if they're not yet at the level of the classic boychoirs. You might expect that an album entitled Christmas in Ireland would have a few more Irish selections than just the Wexford Carol and the ubiquitous Danny Boy, but if what you're after is a collection of familiar Christmas tunes sung by a very appealing boychoir photographed smiling in white robes and informal poses in the booklet, this is a strong entry in the field.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim