King's Singers

Christmas Presence [18 tracks]

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Christmas Presence, a live album by the King's Singers, first appeared in a 13-track version in 2016. At the time, some noted that while the album had all the usual King's Singers virtues, the relatively short program contained unsettling stylistic shifts. The situation has been remedied with the 2017 release of an expanded version with 18 tracks. The added material comes mostly from Herbert Howells and Francis Poulenc, both of whom smooth the transition from the Renaissance pieces at the beginning to the carols and popular songs at the end. And all the positives of the earlier release are intact: if you think you've heard it all when it comes to Jingle Bells, sample Jingle Bells here and think again. The bright, joyful Renaissance pieces at the beginning of the program show that this ensemble hasn't lost a step through its various changes of personnel, and if you're trying to choose from among the various King's Singers Christmas releases, the distinguishing feature of this one is that it has greater heft and variety. The live sound from the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge, is superb. Highly recommended.

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