In Terra Pax: A Christmas Anthology includes an attractive assortment of 20th century British Christmas anthems. Many of the works are likely to be fans of the genre: anthems by William Mathias, Herbert Howells, John Rutter, John Gardner, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. The most substantial work is also one of the least well known, Gerald Finzi's lovely 16-minute In terra pax of 1954, essentially a miniature Christmas cantata for soloists, chorus, and orchestra. In its quieter sections, its elegiac lyricism is reminiscent of Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915. The three carols by Peter Warlock are also less familiar, but they are attractive pieces that deserve wider recognition, particularly the gently pastoral "Balulalow." Kenneth Leighton's A hymn to the Nativity, for soprano and a cappella chorus, is another rarity, notable for its serenity and elegance. Hilary Davan Wetton leads the City of London Choir and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in polished and spirited performances. The choir's tone is not particularly distinctive, but the blend is balanced and warm, the dynamic range is impressive, and Wetton's interpretations are shapely and elegant. The soloists bring a high level of expertise to their material. Baritone Roderick Williams has an open, generous sound and a velvety legato well-suited to these pieces, and Julia Doyle's sweet, pure soprano gently floats over the choir and orchestra. Naxos' sound is nicely atmospheric, but seems a little cramped when the volume is high.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Folk songs of the four seasond - Winter|