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Disc review: A Vocalis Christmas


A Vocalis Christmas

Vocalis Chamber Choir

[Vocalis Chamber Choir]

3.5 stars

The Vocalis Chamber Choir, an eminent Buffalo a cappella group, gives an annual Christmas concert at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum, and it’s always a beautiful event. This disc, arriving just in time for Christmas Day, showcases performances from 2011, 2012 and 2013. The recording has a bit of a grass-roots feel, with pauses for sporadic applause and occasional gaps between tracks. But the sound is beautiful. The acoustics in the Karpeles Museum treat the singers well, you feel their pristine virtuosity, and the singers’ enunciation is such that most of the words are distinct.

Highlights include a haunting performance of “O magnum mysterium” by Renaissance composer Tomas Luis de Victoria; the French “Noel nouvelet”; an energetic English carol, new to me, called “Past Three O’Clock”; and another zesty novelty, Andrejs Jansons’ “Ai, nama mamina.” And I loved the group’s traditional takes on a host of carols. There is no need to reinvent this music. “The Holly and the Ivy” is charming, with a lot of solo lines and other vocal derring-do. John Rutter’s sunny touch is perfect for “Silent Night” and “Deck the Hall.” There’s a cute “Carol of the Bells,” and Arthur Warrell’s euphoric arrangement of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” makes you want to toast that old chestnut.

– Mary Kunz Goldman

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