Manor House String Quartet

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MANOR HOUSE STRING QUARTET - I Saw Three Ships and other Carols - 884502758795 - Released : September 2010 - Manor House Music 002

Just in time for the Christmas season, the members of the Manor House String Quartet from Buckinghamshire, England, were kind enough to send me a preview copy of their new recording of Christmas Carols, all beautifully arranged for string quartet by their first violin, Vaughan Jones. We don't always feel like listening to the traditional choir and organ settings, or hearing the likes of Pavarotti belt out an operatic version of a carol, or crooners like Bing Crosby dreaming of a White Christmas, so for a different atmosphere and change of pace, this disc should definitely get it's share of turns in your CD player this holiday season.

These arrangements, or 'recreations' as Jones describes them, are done in such a way that they retain the essence and spirit of each carol, but give each one a fresh new delivery. Some sound as if played by old-time fiddlers gathered around the fireplace, or playing on a snowy street corner, and have that Yuletide feel to them. And if it wasn't for the traditional tune, some sound as if taken from a Haydn string quartet.

I Saw Three Ships
We Three Kings of Orient Are
Ding Dong! Merrily on High
While Shepherds Watched
The Holly and the Ivy
Silent Night
Deck the Hall
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
In Dulci Jubilo
Away in a Manger
Here We Come A-Wassailing
Personent Hodie
Coventry Carol
Joseph est Bien Marie
Laissez Paitres vos BÍtes
In the Bleak Midwinter
The First NoŽl
Once in Royal David's City
Angels from the Realms of Glory
Gabriel's Message
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
O Come, All Ye Faithful
The Wexford Carol

As you can see, all the favorite ones are covered, from the cheerful Merrily on High, to the dark and beautiful Bleak Midwinter, and the creative arrangements very well convey each piece's mood and spirit. Vaughan Jones (Violin), Louise Bevan (Violin), Adrian Smith (Viola) and Julia Graham (Cello) are all accomplished musicians and perform these seasonal tunes with the right blend of ensemble discipline and festive flair. For more information please click here to visit the Manor House String Quartet website.

Jean-Yves Duperron - October 2010