In Terra Pax takes its name from an evocative Christmas work by Gerald Finzi. The works on the disc are from some well-known composers. It begins with a medley of Christmas carols in a work called "Christmas Day" by Gustav Holst. This charming work for orchestra, soloists and chorus presents many favorite carols. This is followed by short selections by Joubert (There is no rose), Mathias (Sir Christemas) and Howells (Here is the little door and A spotless Rose) for unaccompanied chorus (except for the Mathias where an organ is included). These carols are, for me, unfamiliar and are a nice discovery.
"In terra pax - Christmas scene" is the major work of the disc and is scored for orchestra, baritone, soprano and chorus. The music paints a picture of a frosty night on Christmas Eve in a long introduction before the baritone sings a word picture of pealing bells and distant music. A mixed chorus sings verses from the gospel of Saint Luke with a brief solo for soprano. The music settles into a depiction of the winter's landscape and the baritone resumes his reflections. The charming Three carols of Peter Warlock are for orchestra and chorus and soprano and include "Tyrley, tyrlow"," Balulalow" and "As I sat under a sycamore tree." This is followed by "A hymn of the Nativity" by Kenneth Leighton, a work that begins with a solo soprano who is joined by a male chorus and then a mixed chorus of women and men. This is a beautifully conceived work evoking the nativity with simply but with great effect.
The familiar hymn "What sweeter music" by John Rutter follows and finds an excellent companion piece with Tomorrow shall be my dancing day by John Gardner. Both works are for mixed chorus with the Gardner including a piano and tambourine. Another carol by Mathias - "A Babe is born" - for organ and mixed chorus relates the reaction of shepherds and the three kings to the birth of Jesus. The final selection is by Ralph Vaughan Williams and is a setting of four carols - "Children's Christmas song", "Wassail song", "In Bethlehem city" and "God bless the Master."
The music on this disc is beautifully performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the City of London Choir. Julia Doyle and Roderick Williams are superb and conductor Hilary Daven Wetton provides sensitive direction. This magnificent Christmas music disc should not be missed.