FERRIS: Selected Christmas Carols; Snowcarols. William Ferris Chorale; Composer Festival Orchestra/Paul French; Paul Nicholson, organ. Cedille 90000 101. 70 minutes.
William Ferris’ Christmas music is directly appealing, well-written and orchestrated, and definitely on the serious, religious side of Christmas music.
The cycle Snowcarols anchors the program, and would be a welcome addition to the Holiday Concert repertoire. It’s an introspective piece, on texts from a number of sources, including Christina Rosetti and John Vorrasi (who wrote the informative liner notes for the present disc) on the subject of Christmas time snow. The texts are set clearly, with the words always understandable, and the writing for both chorus and orchestra is warm and inviting, against the chill of the subject and the season.
The other carols on the disc are in a similar vein, expressive, serious, and appealing. The performances are uniformly strong, with the William Ferris Chorale and the Composer Festival Orchestra (led by Paul French and sometimes accompanied by Paul Nicholson on organ) deeply committed to the music and steeped in its style.
Cedille’s sumptuous sound is well matched to the music. This is a timely release, and I look forward to listening to it again, along with a cup of holiday cheer.