After vocalist Nigel Short left the renowned The King’s Singers, he founded the vocal group Tenebrae. In the fifteen years since his departure, Short and Tenebrae have been very busy. Since 2000, Tenebrae has released 26 albums.
The group’s latest recorded effort is appropriately titled A Very English Christmas because it is full of original compositions and carol arrangements by British composers from the early 20th century to today. Peter Warlock (1894 – 1930) features prominently on this recording with a total of five carols included. Contemporary organist and composer Simon Preston is represented on the CD with 3 selections. John Gardner (1917-2011) has two.
A stand-out carol from the contemporary composers that are featured on this release is The Birds by Richard Hickox. The late Hickox was a prominent conductor in England who recorded hundreds of discs for the Chandos record label. The Birds is a simple, pastoral carol that mimics the serene calls of the cuckoo, pigeon and dove.
Philip Ledger (1937-2012) led the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge for many of their famous Nine Lessons and Carols service (heard on Christmas Eve at 10 am on Classical 90.5). His setting of Adam lay ybounden receives a fine performance here as does his famous setting of On Christmas Night.
Other notable works on A Very English Christmas are Arnold Bax’s I Sing of A Maiden and No Small Wonder by Jonathan Lane. There 22 tracks in all on this 2015 release.
A Very English Christmas
Tenebrae conducted by Nigel Short
Bene Arte SIGCD902