King's College Choir of Cambridge / Stephen Cleobury

The Centenary Service: A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols

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In 1918, the Rev. Eric Milner-White, the Dean of King's College, Cambridge, introduced to the college the "Lessons and Carols" format that were already in use on Christmas Eve at other institutions in England, as well as at Brown University in the U.S. The King's College version had a special festive intensity resulting partly from the recent Armistice, and it was this service that the new BBC chose for broadcast in the 1920s. The Festival of Lessons & Carols has since become known over much of the world, and its 100th-anniversary celebration in 2018 involved several special performances and recordings, given added weight by the imminent retirement of the longtime King's College Choir director, Stephen Cleobury. Buyers should note that there are two album releases with different emphases; hardcore Choir of King's College fans will probably want both. There is a double album entitled 100 Years of Nine Lessons & Carols that features historical recordings of the Lessons & Carols, plus a disc of new recordings of current repertory. That group overlaps partly with the present album, which offers a live recording of the 2018 service and its actual lesson readings by college officials and, distinctively, choristers of various types. The performance is a strong one in general, moving effectively between festive pieces and more meditative ones like John Tavener's The Lamb, and the album provides a snapshot of where the choir's repertory was in 2018, with not only Tavener but several other contemporary pieces including a new work, Judith Weir's striking O mercy divine. In addition to appealing to devotees of the collegiate choral tradition, this album could make a good starting point for those new to the Choir of King's College: in every way, it has the feel of a living tradition.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 04:21 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
2 03:16 Amazon
3 01:20 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
4 02:44 Amazon
5 01:11 Amazon
6 02:39 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
7 01:02 Amazon
8 03:05 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
9 01:08 Amazon
10 03:08 Amazon
11 02:21 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
12 01:59 Amazon
13 02:44 Amazon
14 03:06 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
15 02:31 Amazon
16 03:14 Amazon
17 01:16 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
18 01:00 Amazon
19 04:09 Amazon
20 02:29 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
21 01:39 Amazon
22 04:06 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
23 02:44 Amazon
24 03:57 Amazon
25 01:44 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
26 02:09 Amazon
27 04:22 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
28 01:06 Amazon
29 03:24 Amazon
30 02:36 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 04:21 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
2 03:16 Amazon
3 01:20 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
4 02:44 Amazon
5 01:11 Amazon
6 02:39 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
7 01:02 Amazon
8 03:05 Amazon
9 02:15 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
10 01:08 Amazon
11 03:08 Amazon
12 02:21 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
13 01:59 Amazon
14 02:44 Amazon
15 03:06 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
16 02:31 Amazon
17 03:14 Amazon
18 01:16 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
19 01:00 Amazon
20 04:09 Amazon
21 02:29 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
22 01:39 Amazon
23 04:06 Amazon
24 02:54 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
25 02:44 Amazon
26 03:57 Amazon
27 01:44 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
28 02:09 Amazon
29 04:22 Amazon
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
30 01:06 Amazon
31 03:24 Amazon
32 02:36 Amazon
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