Christmas is coming and ...
Posted by: Peakman on 10 December 2018
every shopping mall playing Christmassy pap and every church choir rehearsing the same old carols in the same old arrangements brings out my inner Scrooge. But rather than stomp around shouting 'Bah! Humbug!' I turn to music in my collection which offers a new perspective on old themes and here are a couple of examples.
Rees-Williams and his fellow players offer a jazz take on several traditional tunes including a clever rendering of White Christmas heavily disguised as a Bach prelude! To my ears, their playing does not submerge the originals but rather brings new insight into melodies one has heard so often.
The other album is new this year. I had not come across the Ora Singers before, but their USP is taking pieces of mostly medieval music and commissioning contemporary composers to write works for them in response. This disc is a mixture of medieval and contemporary in excellent performances and recording. Some of the contemporary music is quite difficult on first hearing but repetition helps understanding and brings enjoyment.
I think even unconventional Christmas music should be enjoyable and involving and ideally send the occasional shiver down the spine. Both these albums do that; are there any others?