Originally released by Decca in 1980, An Olde English Christmas presents 18 Christmas carols in opulent arrangements that should appeal to anyone who enjoys a "light classics" approach to the season. Peter Hope's lavish orchestrations of such holiday favorites as "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," "Joy to the World," "The First Nowell," and "O Come All Ye Faithful" are brilliantly decked out in festive colors, and the performances by the John Alldis Choir and the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Colin Davis, are robust and ebullient, with an uplifting character that makes listening a pleasure. The purely instrumental numbers, such as In dulci jubilo, Silent Night, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, and The Holly and the Ivy, among others, are freely elaborated around their famous tunes, so they are not practical for singing along; but if the album is played simply as background music for a Christmas gathering, the fantasia style of these numbers works quite well. The sound quality of the recording is clear and warm, though the ADD mastering is a little lacking in dimensions and definition; this album was obviously intended to supply atmosphere without being scrutinized too closely, so the reproduction is not a serious problem.
Festival of Christmas Carols Review
by Blair Sanderson