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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Westminster Concert Bell Choir, An English Christmas

I love bell sounds, whether it be in the form of carillon, multiple cathedral bells, or handbell-ringer groups. So when I heard the Westminster Concert Bell Orchestra's latest album An English Christmas (Westminster Choir College 1510) I was entranced. The outfit is the largest of its kind, in terms of range of bells anyway, and under the direction of Kathleen Ebling Shaw they sound phenomenal. The group is a part of the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, USA.

The bell choir for this album selected a nice grouping of old English carols, some quite familiar such as "Ding, Dong, Merrily on High" or "Good King Wencesles," but also some unfamiliar to most US listeners, such as the "Sussex" and "Wexford" Carols. There is occasional organ, choir and solo vocal parts, etc., but the bells are out front continually as one would expect.

The modern arrangements are quite well done and the orchestra sounds great. This is a beautiful record for those with good musical instincts. It is a perfect album for its sonic glow, just the right sort of music for those with jaded ears who need something different and moving for the holiday season. The old carols still have some life in them yet when played like this! Very recommended, especially for those who associate bells with the season. Ring out the old!

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