The Christmas Album CD
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Libera's long-awaited festive collection, The Christmas Album, features a mixture of popular, secular and sacred Christmas repertoire. Ideally suited to this type of music, the boy band's unique "celestial sounds for the modern age" are aimed at music lovers seeking peace and respite in the midst of today's chaotic world.
"We're delighted to be releasing our first ever Christmas album on EMI", said Robert Prizeman, Libera's Music Director. "It's something the group has long wanted to do, having performed a number of these songs on stage over the past few years as well as featuring on Aled Jones's Christmas albums. We're very proud of the results."
Well known in the UK through appearances on programmes such as the BBC's Last Choir Standing, the Royal Variety Show and Songs of Praise, Libera was formed in 1999. The name comes from the band's signature song based on the Libera Me portion of the Requiem Mass. The 24 boys aged 7-16 who make up Libera come from a variety of backgrounds and attend local schools in South London. They do not think of themselves as choirboys, but as an alternative kind of boy band. Through their involvement in Libera, they have travelled the world, recorded movie soundtracks and CDs, and served as backing singers to Elton John, Björk and Pavarotti. Their love of singing comes across clearly in their performances and recordings.
Previous bestselling albums from three-time Classical BRIT nominees Libera include Peace, Angel Voices, Free, Visions, and New Dawn. Peace, released in 2010, reached #1 in the UK, Japanese and Philippine classical charts.
It seems extraordinary that Libera have taken until 2011 to release their first Christmas album. It isn't just that this chart-topping choir of seven- to 16-year-old boys has been in existence in its current form since around the mid-1990s, performing the arrangements and original compositions of their musical director, Robert Prizeman. It's also that their very raison d'être is to bestow warm, fluffy feelings upon their listeners. Read their promotional blurb and you'll be promised "unique celestial sounds for the modern age", with "shimmering, mystical chords and ecstatic harmonies". Underlining these promises are album titles such as Eternal and Peace, and their performing garb of white monastic cowls. Certainly, if ever a choir were made for Christmas it's Libera, and The Christmas Album's 16-track programme is a reassuringly familiar mix of traditional carols such as Joy to the World and Once in Royal David's City, and more recent favourites including White Christmas and Carol of the Bells. Less familiar is how they've been reinterpreted, Libera-style, by Prizeman.
Given that the Libera product is essentially tranquil mood albums, perhaps it's wrong to feel surprised and disappointed to discover this disc to be a one-flavour offering. Somehow, though, it's impossible not to be. Christmas music is wonderful for its variety, from the bright punch of Joy to the World and the awe-filled reverence of Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, to the heart-warming schmaltz of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. However, under Prizeman's pen, a programme that on paper looks stylistically wide-ranging has become a homogenous mass of smooth, sweet, limp sentimentality, heavy on the keyboards and unable to shake off an all-pervasive air of being over-produced. The boys themselves have attractive voices and effortless top registers, but their vocal delivery has been developed to complement Prizeman's compositional style and sounds manufactured. It's as though they've been told, "Sing as you imagine a chorister should sound, but with a hint of boyband, too." It's soft, occasionally breathy, sweet and smooth, with the odd portamento thrown in for good measure. It lacks the clear, true, crisp boyish exuberence produced by the trebles of top UK cathedral choirs such as Westminster Abbey, King's College, Cambridge or Wells Cathedral choirs, whose own Christmas discs will provide much longer-lasting listening pleasure.
It's such a shame. Libera is a non-profit choir. Its boys are drawn from a wide range of south London schools, encompassing a good spread of social backgrounds. They're evidentally talented, and they work phenomenally hard. It would have been far more satisfying to have given their disc a glowing review. Humbug.
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Top Customer Reviews
Because Libera have once again shown that it is possible to improve on perfection by bringing out this superb collection of carols and Christmas songs, some familiar and some not, but all with the traditional stamp of Libera quality. A brilliant blend of nostalgia and the contemporary, 'The Christmas Album' will make your Christmas complete.
So I'll now just lay my 'Angel Voices 3' CD to rest in the attic. Its work is done.
Additional notes added 26th November 2011: Having just read Charlotte Gardner's laughable BBC review above, I'm just wondering if we're talking about the same album! Ms Gardner talks about over-production and compares this superb CD with Christmas contributions by other church choirs. What nonsense! That is like comparing champagne with petrol. They are completely different.
Libera has a unique style that is extremely popular with their fans worldwide. It may not be in the style of traditional cathedral choirs but that, surely, is the whole point. If he wants to listen to Christmas music done the way it has been done for decades, there is plenty to choose from. And he can keep it! Libera is the most refreshing phenomenon to hit the music industry in years in a style that I, for one, absolutely love!
P.S. Sorry for my english. i'm italian. Thanks Libera.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Heavenly singing. I have bought this CD for all my family and friends. My favourite Christmas music every year.Published 5 months ago by Fiddledd123
This is a lovely album to listen to at Christmas with lots if favourite carols. Very angelic listening.Published 7 months ago by J. Else
Amazing, most beautiful Christmas album I have ever Hurd. Would definitely recommend to everyone.Published 8 months ago by jennifer lea
Great Christmas present! Good product at a competitive price. Quick delivery.Published 9 months ago by Maria