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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£27.52+ £1.26 shipping

on 13 December 2015
I have at least 5 versions of the "nine lessons" but this (1999) recording is in my opinion the best.
The delivery of the readings is natural and not overly dramatic as some versions are, and the recordings of the carols, while perhaps not as good technically as the 2012 version is to my mind more atmospheric.
Get a copy while you can,covet it, and hand it on to your children in your will, it really was a vintage year.
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on 6 December 2016
The production values on this particular EMI CD are appalling. The sound levels between the readings and the singing are hopeless. Sound quality on the readings is so poor, and the level so low, you need to turn up the volume to hear. Then, when the next carol begins, you get blasted; so you have to turn the volume down. Then, when the next reading begins, you can't hear it, so you have to turn the volume up. Etc... Don't buy this CD. Find another year.
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on 14 January 2012
I can't imagine the luxury of spending Christmas Eve seeing King's College Choir and Cleobury present their Christmas program, called "A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols". This is no ordinary show. Anyone can put on a Christmas program, but this one is so good that words can't describe it. Few choirs can rival King's ability to make Christmas carols remarkable, the Cambridge Singers and Chanticleer being the only ones I can think of. The sound of the choir is phenomenal; the boys in the choir come closer to sounding like angels than any other choir I've heard. In the carols that are so familiar that we could sing along the whole way through, they manage to say something new, which can't be said about all the Christmas CD's I've heard, at least not to the same extent. If you think that the reciting of Scripture is going to be drudgery, you're in for a surprise. There's something heartwarming about hearing the boys and men recite their texts with wonderful British accents. (Yes, I'm American.) The hall makes their voices boom.

Perhaps one of the best things about this disc is that while it features plenty of the old-time traditional carols, it sticks some wonderful new ones on, from Tavener, Rutter, and Ades. Rutter's "Dormi Jesu" knocked me over flat when I heard performed here. The purity of the boy's voices combined with yearning qualities in Rutter's music make this a must, particularly the very ending where Rutter takes us through some captivating harmonic changes. And Ades' Faryfax Carol is stunning in its own way. Much more modern in style than the Rutter, it evokes a world of mystery that is almost scary.

I should quickly comment on the recording quality. Some people pick on EMI for delivering second rate sound. There's times when this is true, but not here. In fact, the sonic thrills on this album make for one of its greatest pluses. The choir is captured wonderfully, balanced wonderfully with the organ. The organ playing by Benjamin Bayl is almost as good as the choir's singing, and I listened spell-bound to it captured in top quality sound.

In closing, this is a fantastic album that should brighten up the busy holiday season. Maybe sometime I'll be fortunate enough to attend this wonderful event live!
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on 29 November 2012
I'm sure the cliche 'if you only buy one Christmas CD in your life, buy this one' appears often on review websites, but this really is something else. For less than eleven of your hard-earned quid, you get:

1) Over 80 minutes of Christmas atmosphere,
2) Fabulous recording quality,
3) One of the best choirs in the world,
4) Eric Milner-White's heart-rending bidding prayer

The recording really is terribly good. The King's acoustic isn't always well-served on record (and even less so in live broadcasts, though this is not to criticise the BBC's top-notch engineers who do their best) but on a half-decent music system, the atmosphere is captured with laser precision. It really is a 'close your eyes and you're there' experience. The recording of the huge chapel organ is also great fun on a big pair of speakers: try God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen with a subwoofer and you'll annoy (or delight) the neighbours whilst you vibrate gently across the floor in your chair.

The big tub-thumper carols all have descants - as is only right and proper - but be aware that they are Cleobury's descants which, though good, probably aren't what you're used to; you probably want Willcocks's descants if these don't sound right. You'll also probably have your musical horizons expanded by this CD too, especially with the Judith Weir and Thomas Ades pieces. I suppose the only down side of all the above is that it's not the most appropriate thing to stick on if you just want some light background carols, but there are hundreds of those on the market already.

'The real meaning of Christmas' is also something of a cliche but it's right here, just waiting for you.
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on 23 December 2015
Of all the carol cd's available if you like to hear the organ being played at full throttle this is the one Hark the herald Angels is totally phenominal the best ever version wind up the Hi-Fi and literally it will rattle the floorboards. sheer bliss, The last track on disc 2 is the organ scholar Banjamin Bayl giving (In Dulci Jubilo by J.S.Bach) a good seeing to. The rest of the cd is also excellent but these two tracks for me are the stand out items.
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on 31 December 2012
This was the first time I tried buying an MP3 instead of a CD and the experience was good...even though I had a problem with the download on a couple of tracks (not Amazon's fault I should add) Amazon's help was immediate and helpful.
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on 4 March 2014
Wonderful transporting event celebrating the birth of Christ. An all time classic, which every home should be blessed with whatever the date.
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on 20 November 2015
Excellent. A very important part of our cultural heritage. Can anyone else please tell me what year's service it is?
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on 26 December 2014
A beautiful, teaching, touching and unforgettable concert!
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