Sir Christemas: Songs of the Season
(Flowinglass, 2001)

Sir Christemas: Songs of the Season is a collection of mostly carols, ranging from the 13th to mid-20th centuries. As Broceliande explains in their CD booklet, a "carol" is a type of song associated with dancing. Well, if your feet aren't infected by this festive music, at least your ears will get a treat.

The carols on this album are all traditional tunes ranging from easily recognizable, such as "Away in a Manger" and "The Holly and the Ivy," to the vaguely familiar, such as "Gloucestershire Wassail" and "Gaudete," to the unique, such as "The Boar's Head Carol." (Hey, it may be a familiar tune at Queen's College, but this is a new one for me). Their rendition of "Un Flabeau, Jeanette, Isabelle," a 17th-century French carol, is remarkable, especially the tenor recorder. The title song, "Sir Christemas," is a very impressive a cappella version of a 15th-century English song. The men provide a very good background harmony for the female voices to shine.

In Sir Christemas: Songs of the Season, Broceliande displays an obvious passion for their craft. It's not merely the selection of songs that strengthens this album, it's Broceliande's entire approach. Their period music has totality of authenticity, from their vocal styles to their instrumental performance. Each song seems to be a window into that time period, as if the listener has picked up a performance from a late-night French Christmas party or an English dining hall. If you're wanting authentic Christmas carols, Sir Christemas is a delightful choice.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 30 November 2002

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