This compilation of some of John Rutter's work should be in everyone's Christmas stocking. With sixteen of his own original creations he has added seven arrangements he has made of traditional Christmas music and that written by other composers. What is useful is the grouping of the music into parts - Prologue, The Christmas Story, Christmas Night, Christmas Reflections, Christmas Joy and Epilogue - which allows the listener to select a long or short programme if required.
The performances, drawn from sources spanning the years 1985 to 2002, are sheer delight from beginning to end. The Cambridge Singers, with soloists Ruth Holton, Gerald Finlay and Stephen Varcoe, excel with the various moods and rhythms throughout, and the City of London Sinfonia adds stylish and colourful support. The direction of this wonderful festival of music for Christmas is in the capable hands of John Rutter himself who inspires his singers and players.
If I were to single out any items from the programme, who could possibly resist the lilting rhythms of `Jesus child' and the `Donkey Carol', and the jaunty bounce of `We wish you a merry Christmas'? On the reflective side, the various lullabies all receive sensitive performances.
If you are looking for the perfect combination of joy and reverence, not only at Christmas but at any time of year, you could not possibly rival this CD.