The holiday season is upon us and it is time indeed for Winter’s Delights. Certainly, this album from early music ensemble Quadriga Consort is one of those delights. It is cheerful and engaging and clearly shows that Christmas was celebrated with joy and love hundreds of years ago and in many places just as it is today.
A few of those songs will already be familiar to lovers of Christmas music. They are the songs many of us grew up with. These are the traditional English carols “The First Nowell,” “The Three Kings,” and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Another tune is not going to look familiar to many, but you will probably recognize it when you hear it. “Leanabh an Aigh (The Blessed Child)” is a Scottish song from the 1800s that became world famous as Cat Stevens’ hit “Morning Has Broken.” The version here is lovely.
France, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Nova Scotia provide the other songs here, which feature traditional instruments like the viola de gamba, the basse de violon, recorders, and harpsichord. Scotland gives us the traditional tunes “Gloomy Winter” and “The Traveler Benighted in Snow” while Ireland warms things up with “A Merry Christmas” and a medley that will definitely get your feet tapping with a hornpipe, a jig, and a reel: “Early in the Morning,” “The Ivy Leaf,” and “Christmas Comes But Once A Year.”
By this point in the recording, you will have realized that this early holiday music is anything but stuffy. Add Nova Scotia’s “The Stormy Scenes of Winter” and France’s “Noel Nouvelet – Sing We Now of Christmas” and you have a delightful collection for listening to by the fire or in the car on the way to visit your relations. It will be a lovely change from the beloved but too-familiar holiday songs on the radio and will provide a festive yet peaceful mood for all who listen. Turn it on when you are feeling frazzled by holiday shopping, decorating, and cooking, or as background music for dinner with loved ones who sometimes don’t see eye to eye. It will soothe, cheer, and promote good will in any situation!
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