Graham Rickson

Vox Turturis's director Andrew Gant describes this anthology as "a celebration … an exercise in stripping away the layers of accretion which these much-loved tunes have gathered over the centuries". There's more celebration than austerity in these sweet-toned performances, mostly sung in unfussy, unaccompanied arrangements. Gant's 24 traditional carols are smartly arranged to tell the nativity story in sequence. Highlights include meltingly beautiful performances of "Celebrons la naissance" and "Les anges dans nos campagnes", and two contrasting settings of "Away in a Manger". There are a few juicy, loud moments. Mendelssohn's ripe version of "Hark! The Herald Angel's Sing" may startle the unwary, but the prevailing mood is calm and restrained. Until an ingenious arrangement of "A Merry Christmas" and a bracing take on the spring carol "Tempus adest floridum" brings things to a close. The acoustic of St Peter's College Chapel serves these singers well, and the recorded sound is glorious.