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CHAN 10385
    2 Ratings
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CHAN 10385

Vaughan Williams: Christmas Music

The Classical Shop
release date: October 2006

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2006


City of London Sinfonia

Richard Hickox

Roderick Williams


Sarah Fox


Joyful Company of Singers


St Jude on the Hill, Hampstead, London


Brian Couzens


Ralph Couzens

Michael Common


Record Label




Total Time - 69:23
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Please Note: On Mp3 format an unavoidable click may be heard on segue track breaks, to avoid this issue please select lossless or better


Select Complete Single Disc for
  premiere recording of the arrangement for strings and organ  

Fantasia on Christmas Carols

premiere recording

On Christmas Night

  A Masque adapted from Dickens' A Christmas Carol  
2 Prelude. God rest you merry - Allegro agitato - 1:51
3 Marley's Ghost. Allegro moderato e pesante 1:42
4 The Spirit of Christmas. Lento - 0:49
5 Fezziwig's Christmas Party. Molto moderato - 2:15
6 Fezziwig's Parlour: Scene 2. Allegro - 4:16
7 Morris jig. Allegro molto - 1:42
8 The Triumph. Allegro moderato - 2:07
9 Roger de Coverley - 1:02
10 Midnight. Lento - 1:44
11 A procession. Lento - 2:45
12 Victorian Drawing Room. Andante sostenuto - 0:56
13 Bob Cratchit's Christmas Party - 1:27
14 Bob Cratchit's Toast. Lento - 0:31
15 Black Nag. Allegro - 1:35
16 Procession of the Nativity. Lento 3:20

The First Nowell

  A Nativity Play  
17 1 Prelude. God rest you merry and The truth from above 4:55
  Baritone solo and Chorus  
18 2 Angelus ad Virginem 1:34
  Soprano solo  
19 3 The Salutation Carol 2:04
20 6 The Cherry Tree Carol: Part One 1:55
21 7 The Cherry Tree Carol: Part Two 1:32
  Soprano solo  
22 8 Joseph and Mary 2:39
  Baritone solo and Chorus  
23 9 'In Bethlehem City' (A Virgin most pure) 2:35
  Women's Chorus  
24 15 The Sussex Carol 1:20
  Baritone solo and Chorus  
25 16 'Tidings true there be come new' (The Salutation Carol) 1:07
  Tenors and Basses  
26 17 How brightly shone the morning star 3:19
27 18 [Interlude] 0:56
28 20 The First Nowell 5:06
  Soprano, Baritone and Chorus  
Including premiere recordings, On Christmas Night and Fantasia on Christmas Carols
First time The First Nowell has been available on CD.
Features the famous baritone Roderick Williams
This is a unique coupling

Released in perfect time for Christmas, this unique disc conducted by Richard Hickox (famous for his interpretations of Vaughan Williams), with the City of London Sinfonia presents the premiere recording of Vaughan Williams’s On Christmas Night and the only available recording of The First Nowell. Vaughan Williams loved Christmas and had a lifelong passion for carols, admiring their freshness, beauty and nobility. Vaughan Williams’ seasonal compositions reflect his love of Christmas in general and of carols in particular.

The Fantasia on Christmas Carols was dedicated to Cecil Sharp and is based on four traditional English carols: ‘The Truth sent from above’, ‘Come all you worthy gentlemen’, ‘On Christmas Night’ (The Sussex Carol) and ‘There is a fountain filled with blood’, plus hints of other carols. This is a recording of the alternative scoring using an organ and strings accompaniment rather than orchestral.

On Christmas Night was originally called A Christmas Carol as it was a free adaptation of Dicken’s story of the same name. This ballet score commissioned by Adolf Bolm, a principal dancer with Diaghilev’s company and first performed in 1926. The work receives its premiere recording on this release. The score is very atmospheric and juxtaposes complex melodies with simple folk tunes, and interspersed with carols. The First Nowell, a nativity play for soloists, chorus and small orchestra, was arranged and adapted from medieval pageants by Simona Pakenham. A number of traditional tunes are included in Vaughan Williams’s arrangement such as On Christmas Night, The Cherry Tree Carol and God rest you merry. Vaughan Williams said to Pakenham, ‘I think that every Christmas play ought to begin with God rest you Merry and end with The First Nowell.’

This truly is music to be played and cherished during the Christmas period.

"...The late Richard Hickox leads a beautiful performance of all three works. Indeed, his Fantasia on Christmas Carols I think the best I’ve heard. Sarah Fox is sweet-voiced in both On Christmas Night and The First Nowell. Roderick Williams (or maybe Simon Keenlyside) may well be my favorite baritone right now. He possesses a beautiful voice which he uses intelligently. His breath control seems to know no limit and allows him to phrase anywhere he wants and to subtly color his line. The choir and orchestra are thoroughly professional, but it’s the ensemble and the music that become the stars. Highly recommended."

Steve Schwartz

On home ground here, Richard Hickox obtains excellent performances from his own City of London Sinfonia, the fresh-voiced Joyful Company of Singers, and two fine soloists, Good sound too.
BBC Music Magazine

Hickox makes an eloquent case for the score, which is handsomely played by the City of London Sinfonia. As for Vaughan Williams’s nativity play ‘The First Nowell’, it almost combines innocence and knowingness as any good Nativity play should.
International Record Review

An absolute joy for everyone
The Organ

This is safe Richard Hickox territory and he obtains idiomatic and enjoyable performances. Splendid recorded sound.
Sunday Times

Hickox is well supported throughout by the Soprano Sarah Fox, the Joyful Company of Singers and the orchestra he founded, the City of London Sinfonia. Special Praise must go to the mellifluous baritone soloist Roderick Williams, who has made some excellent recordings lately but none better than this. The Chandos sound is exemplary.
Daily Mail

                  Editor’s Choice

"There’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than with this enchanting disc, which contains some delightful rarities. OK, so there are the requisite number of carols, but nothing ever sounds hackneyed from Vaughan Williams. With glowing playing and singing under the baton of Richard Hickox, there’s plenty for the head as well as the Christmas hearth."


Love Vaughan Williams, and how wonderful to have an entire disc of classical Christmas music!!
M Fiacco

J Harrison