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Vaughan Williams was (with Cecil Sharp) one of the foremost collectors of folk songs from 1903, and collected many traditional carols as well. This collection is of carols as he arranged them, thus presenting his view of Christmas in the first half of the 20th century. He also wrote four completely new carols for the Oxford Book of Carols (tracks 12 to 15). The recording concludes with the first complete recording of Nine Carols for Male Voices, commissioned by the British Council in 1941 for performance by and for British troops serving in Iceland. Nearly half of the recording is accounted for by world première recordings. The recording was made in February 2018 in St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead. William Vann directs the Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Hugh Rowlands accompanies 13 of the 24 tracks on the church’s Willis organ.
A dark-toned, introspective harmonisation of ‘Coventry Carol’ and a jaunty ‘I Saw Three Ships’ stand out particularly. Clear-toned, welcoming performances. BBC Music Magazine