What people are saying
"Voces8 – smart-suited, slickly branded, but can they sing? Yes: this selection of arrangements for eight voices shows the group’s undoubted vocal pedigree (it was founded by ex-Westminster Abbey choristers)." BBC Music Magazine
Release date:27th Aug 2012
Open up the booklet and there’s a deeply silly, yet very stylish, publicity shot of VOCES8. When you note in the small print the details of which particular upmarket outfitters these eight vocalists are “officially dressed” by, the heart sinks a little. They don’t need the gimmicky presentation. There’s nowhere to hide in a vocal octet, and VOCES8’s singing is faultless – jaw-droppingly so in places. I approached this disc in a state of postprandial somnolence, only to feel spiritually rejuvenated within seconds of pressing play. The balance of carols old and new is well-judged, and it’s fascinating to hear the group’s unadorned versions of numbers heard in fancier garb on the discs reviewed above – versions of Bethlehem Down and There Is No Rose sung with spectacular control and clarity.
We get Górecki’s quietly ecstatic Totus Tuus, written in 1987 for Pope John Paul II’s return to Poland. A rarely-heard carol by Walton closes the recital, and there are two motets by Poulenc. The traditional numbers are skillfully and tastefully arranged. Everything is dispatched with affection and palpable sincerity; another Christmas anthology you can imagine listening to in July.
The Arts Desk, Graham Rickson
Another winner from Signum is Voces 8’s Christmas. As the name implies, these are eight young singers: two sopranos, two counter-tenors, two tenors, a baritone and a bass, who present a cappella arrangements of popular carols, with verve and finesse. I loved hearing such familiar stuff dressed up in new ways that are invariably sophisticated and sensitively done.
The Daily Mail, David Mellor
Voces8 – smart-suited, slickly branded, but can they sing? Yes: this selection of arrangements for eight voices shows the group’s undoubted vocal pedigree (it was founded by ex-Westminster Abbey choristers).
Performance and Recording
BBC Music Magazine, Terry Blain
For its album of Christmas music, British vocal octet Voces8 has put together an exceptionally attractive collection of classic carols and anthems mixed with less familiar works. The most striking aspects of the performances are a rare level of tonal clarity and a focused unanimity in the singers’ vowels that produce a ringing, almost startling purity, which is enhanced by the crystalline, ideally resonant sound of Signum’s CD. The focused tone allows the group to sound much larger than an octet, so the dynamic range of their performances is unusually broad and expressive, from the hushed opening of Coventry Carol to the rhapsodic fullness of In dulci jubilo. The sound has plenty of warmth, too, and the voices, which can blend so beautifully, have distinctive and colorful character when given solos lines. "Radiant" and "luminous" are adjectives that are perhaps overused in describing choral sound, but in this case they are fully deserved.
Jim Clements provides three new arrangements of traditional carols. They are notable for the way they capture and intensify the essential meaning of each carol. This is especially evident in his version of I Wonder As I Wander, which concludes with a wonderful, ecstatically wandering canon and which has the additional virtue of subtly and cleverly correcting the grammatical awkwardness of the first verse. The program is marvelously varied, but all of the pieces, whether written in the middle ages or the 21st century, are gorgeous examples of sumptuous choral writing, and these performance do them full justice. Highly recommended.
- Once in Royal David’s City – Henry Gauntlett arr. Thomas Hewitt Jones – 3.09
- Gabriel’s Message – Traditional Basque Carol arr. Jim Clements – 3.01
- Magnificat Quinti Toni – Hieronymus Praetorius – 6.23
- O Magnum Mysterium – Francis Poulenc – 2.57
- Away in a Manger – Anonymous arr. Jim Clements – 2.56
- Ding Dong Merrily on High – Anonymous arr. Charles Wood – 1.35
- I Wonder as I Wander – Traditional Appalachian Carol arr. Jim Clements – 3.34
- Totus Tuus – Henryk Gorecki – 8.42
- Coventry Carol – Traditional Carol arr. Barnaby Smith – 3.23
- Jesu, Swete Sone Dear – Graham Lack – 2.11
- At the Manger Mary Sings – Graham Lack – 2.30
- Videntes Stellam – Francis Poulenc – 2.51
- In Dulci Jubilo – Traditional German Carol arr. Hieronymus Praetorius – 2.46
- Bethlehem Down – Peter Warlock – 4.34
- There is no Rose – Anonymous – 3.26
- Nesciens Mater – Jean Mouton – 5.10
- The Three Kings – Peter Cornelius – 2.30
- What Cheer? – William Walton – 1.31