This is the third in a series of seasonal carol releases by veteran historical-performance specialist Paul Hillier, this time working with the 16 fine voices of the Chamber Choir Ireland. For those tired of the rather homogenous sound of the Sixteen, try this for something different. Carols from the Old & New Worlds is an accurate-enough title, although American material (mostly New England polyphony) is distinctly in the minority this time, replaced by some really lovely Irish tunes that the performers take to with relish. The title does not, however, convey the flavor of this release, which is strongly marked by Hillier compositionally as well as in the smooth choral sound, somewhat toned down from the trademark blend of the Hilliard Ensemble, but still recognizable as the product of the same musician. The most distinctive feature is that Hillier rewrites most of the music in some way, adding verses to pieces usually known with just a single verse (he says up front that he went looking for more on the Internet, and he was rewarded with some good information about the persistence of some old traditional carols, like the Piedmontese Gesù bambin l'è nato [track 17]). Elsewhere, Hillier inserts new harmonizations of his own; these move in the direction of Swingle Singers territory, although they don't go that far. Some may or may not go for such treatments, but the whole thing holds together well and seems sure to please those who have enjoyed the earlier releases in the series. Chamber Choir Ireland sounds superb on its home ground of Dublin, at All Hallows College Chapel.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim