Top positive review
12 people found this helpful
on 24 December 2010
Carols at Christmas is another Christmas release from Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band and this time it's a live Christmas album.
Having been formed for a BBC radio 2 Christmas special, which was very popular, Maddy and the Band recorded an album for Saydisc records called "Tapestry of carols" in 1987. That was a big hit too and they followed up with two more Christmas albums "Carols and Capers" and "Hang up sorrow and care".
This release," Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band in Concert carols at Christmas" is the next Christmas release in line. It is also a sort of a compendium of some of the best of the previous mentioned albums. It's a sort of greatest hits and it's recorded live. The live element gives the album originality and the atmosphere is excellent. The selection of music is first class and the performance is both warm and exciting. The whole album gives us a bright and inviting Christmas feeling.
The Carnival Band performs popular medieval, renaissance and traditional music. They cover folk, early music, classical and contempory music.
In their performance The Carnival Band give us lots of energy and fun.
Maddy Prior is at her best on this recording with her wonderful vocals. She sings with passion and serenity, her vocals are harmonious and enthusiastic. It is a perfect performance from someone who is a champion of traditional music.
In the spirit of folk music, this album blends traditional elements with other elements. Since folk music is a living tradition it is always changing and bringing in new interpretation and influences. This album offers a wide mix of influences but always in a traditional and tasteful way.
The album has a medieval feel to it. The use of instruments such as gitten, mandochello, double bass, tabors, basel trammel, glockenspiel, cowbell, triangle, cymbals, tambourine, violin, bassoon, clarinet, Shawms, curtal, recorders, bagpipes, fiddle, tin whistle, lute, mandolin, banjo, bells and vocals help to give us that flavour. It is a rich sound.
The sound engineering for a live recording is very good indeed and it comes over well on a home hi fi.
The album begins with some singing without instrumentation that gets things off to a great start and the whole thing is a welcome addition to the list of Christmas recordings by Maddy and the Band.
The vocals give a sometimes sacred feel and sometimes a rousing uplifting sense of joy. There are English and European influences. And also there are American influences in the interpretation such as the New Orleans Cajun fiddle on "Angels from the realms" The album has an interpretations of a traditional nature. With some clever marriage of styles that range from the medieval to 20th Century.
There are some unique twists of interpretation and they are all done perfectly.
It is a joyous album that will be always be a favourite.