This is the third Christmas album from the Grammy Award-winning Washington Chorus, a large mixed choir founded in 1961, but the first with conductor Julian Wachner. This is an ideal holiday album for listeners looking for traditional carols sung enthusiastically by a large group. The chorus is joined by the Whitman Choir, a high school group, and an ensemble of brass, percussion, organ, and harp. The instruments provide a full, almost orchestral sound, and provide a colorful and lively accompaniment. The chorus sings with a rich, full tone and infectious energy. The carols, with just a few exceptions, are Christmas standards that will be familiar to most listeners. A variety of illustrious choral conductors, including David Willcocks, Norman Luboff, and Wachner himself have created inventive and lively arrangements that never stray too far from the originals. The recording was made at a live performance in 2009, and that is evident in the sound quality. The brass is very present, but the chorus, in spite of its fullness and volume, seems somewhat distant. In the program notes, Wachner comments that the decision to retain the ambience of the actual performance, which includes audience participation in several of the carols, was intentional. The CD should appeal to fans of traditional Christmas music looking for a big choral sound, but who aren't picky about having immaculate, perfectly balanced sound.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins