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Simply English


December 7, 2000


(In "English Dance and Song", Winter 2000)

Our productive friends in Hungary, Simply English, have a Christmas CD out. Here we get 'The Boar's Head Carol' sung in an appealing pproximation of a medieval pronunciation of sorts. Still in culinary mode, 'The Goslings' gives a different take on Christmas dinner, a Victorian melodrama of poultry, romance, and roasting (more or less in that order - you can see the denouement coming from a long way off!). Another Victorian contribution, apparently, is 'The Sailor's Christmas Day', which paints what one has to suspect is a fairly optimistic picture of the pleasures of Christmas on board ship.

The Holy Family get good coverage, as you might expect, with 'The Cherry Tree Carol', and 'The Bitter Withy' taken at a rattling pace. I especially like the last of 'The Joys of Mary', 'To see her ownsome Jesus Christ/To write with a golden pen' - an intriguing and resonant image. Add two versions of 'The Holy and the Ivy', 'Down in Yon Forest', as well as such standards as 'Good King Wenceslas' and 'The Twelve Days of Christmas', and this is an interesting selection of seasonal material. The accompaniments are mostly on guitar, with some additional recorders, computer arrangements, etc., sympathetic but not too adventurous. With a children's rhyme too, we are in for an honest and enjoyable Christmas, with more than just the usual fare on the menu.

David Atkinson


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