Dancing Day – Music for Christmas by Britten, Rutter, Hadley, Mathias, Matthew Martin & Trad. (arr Scott and Ledger)

Reviewed on Thu 24 Dec, 2015

... as near perfect a performance of Britten's A Ceremony of Carols as I have heard, boasting exquisitely polished and radiantly fresh contributions from both the boy trebles (dauntingly accurate throughout) and harpist Sara Cutler.

John Scott's sudden death last August aged only 59 robbed the musical world of a superb organist and choirmaster. The present collection shows off to stunning effect the superlative standards he achieved with the Saint Thomas Choir on New York's Fifth Avenue, not least as near perfect a performance of Britten's A Ceremony of Carols as I have heard, boasting exquisitely polished and radiantly fresh contributions from both the boy trebles (dauntingly accurate throughout) and harpist Sara Cutler. The other extended offering here is John Rutter's engaging Dancing Day, a 23-minute carol sequence, conceived (like the Britten) for upper voices and harp, and premiered on 26 January 1974 in Coventry Cathedral (hence the inclusion of the haunting Coventry Carol). Elsewhere, Scott himself supplies the delightful arrangement of King Jesus hath a garden (a Dutch carol from the late-16th/early-17th century), while Philip Ledger's treatment of On Christmas Night (Sussex Carol) sparkles anew. Patrick Hadley's touching I sing of a maiden comprises yet another high-spot in a programme, which is topped and tailed by Matthew Martin's exuberant Novo profusi gaudio (2010) and William Mathias's lusty Wassail Carol (1964). Resonus Classics' magnificently truthful sonics set the seal on a wholly cherishable release.
–Andrew Achenbach