CD - Christmas Lullabies

The marvellously pure voice of Charlotte de Rothschild is the perfect vehicle for this repertoire. Good that she begins with some Rubbra, too: "A Hymn to the Virgin" is given with a lovely legato and some wonderful phrase shadings. "Jesukin", too, is the epitome of Christmas-spiced beauty. It is de Rothschild's ability to spin a simple line so magically that enthrals...

Harp solos are strategically placed for variety's sake, and they provide their own brand of magic. Then there is the ever-popular "Walking in the Air", as inevitable as it is poignant. Those chestnuts which roast every year in an open fire provide a fitting end, especially as the song ends with the words "Merry Christmas to you", the perfect way to leave the listener. A lovely, heart-warming disc. Enjoy.

クリスマスへ向けての準備期間に、私は巨大な期待感を抱いていたのを思い出す ― 良い子にしていたら、サンタクロースが来てくれるだろうか?(通常は来ないのだが!)― が、私たちのクリスマスはいつも同じパターンだった。クリスマスの 1 週間ほど前に大きなもみの木が届き、針状の葉が落ちるのを受ける大きなダークグリーンのごみよけシートに載せられ、居間に置かれるのである。 私の母 ― 美しいオーストリア人女性である ― は、照明、ぴかぴかした飾り、装飾品の入ったたくさんの箱を下ろし、ダイニングルーム、玄関、二階の子供部屋が、ひいらぎ、きらきら光る飾りでおおわれた松かさ、やどりぎで趣味よく飾られ、家全体がお祝いの空気になるのだった。私のいちばんの喜びのひとつは、トランペットを吹く金色の天使の付いた鉄琴の包みを、彼女が開ける時だった。下に置かれた小さな蝋燭の熱で、天使たちがぐるぐる回り、天使たちにぶら下がっている撥(ばち)が 3 つの鐘を叩き、すばらしい音が出るのである(今でもこれを持っている!)。

Some are well known: "Adam lay ybounden", for instance, which rises to a lovely, almost ecstatic "Deo gratias". Some, much less so: Thomas Dunhill (1877-1946: think contemporaneous with the likes of Tovey and Hurlstone) provides "To the Queen of Heaven", another short song that rises to a glorious close. Obviously, the prevailing tone of the recital is reflective and contained, yet within this the programme finds myriad variation, from the folk-song tinged "The Final Mercy" (Warlock) through "I Wonder as I Wander". The placing of "I Wonder as I Wander" exemplifies the care put into the programme order here: this is one of the most exposed tracks on the disc; the Britten that follows ("Corpus Christi Carol") emerges as an extension of it; its more advanced, very characteristically Britten harmonic language seemingly the logical next step.

Charlotte de Rothschild has the most pristine of voices, and so is eminently suited to this repertoire. Danielle Perrett is a superb player, and not just a superb accompanist, as her rapt reading of the Old French carol "Let all flesh keep mortal silence" shows. The recording is simply exemplary throughout. An essay by Charlotte de Rothschild ("Christmas at Exbury") sets the scene deliciously.

Colin Clarke

Soprano Charlotte de Rothschild with harpist Danielle Perrett present this charming collection of Christmas Lullabies from Nimbus Records. The 17 songs (plus 4 harp solos) follow the time-line of the Christmas story, an unusual and interesting approach. The great flowering of English Song in the early 20th century is well represented here with composers such as Roger Quilter, Peter Warlock, Michael Head and Edmund Rubbra. I confess I didn't know there were so many English songs relating to Christmas.

I especially enjoyed the first five songs, where the composers have set ancient words. Rubbra's 'A Hymn to the Virgin' and 'Jesukin' are exquisitely sung. de Rothschild's high notes are crystal clear and the interpretation is sympathetic. 'An Old Carol' by Roger Quilter has an intimate, restful feeling and in 'To The Queen Of Heaven', Perrett displays a robust fullness of sound.

'Maria Wiegenlied', 'The Cradle in Bethlehem' and the 'Little Road to Bethlehem' all have the gentle rocking motion of the lullaby. Sweet floated quiet notes add to the ethereal mood. I imagine a nursery lit only by a flickering nightlight in 'The Cradle in Bethlehem' and 'Little Road to Bethlehem' places the Holy Family in a scene of gentle English countryside - lovely words and lilting music.

'Die Konige' (The Kings) is a classic Christmas song from Peter Cornelius but it's not an easy one. Charlotte de Rothschild's diction is, as ever, very good indeed and she makes the most of the storytelling in the song. And by the by, there's a heartstoppingly lovely final note. I'm not convinced that this song works with harp - it contains some thumping great piano chords which to my ears sound odd played on the harp. 'Cantique de Noel' (O Holy Night) is Adolphe Adam's blockbuster Christmas number. It's slushy but it's glorious. I'd say I prefer a large voice singing this, but de Rothschild makes up for size of voice with expressive vocal colour and, as ever with this singer, intelligent word painting. She is punctilious in marking the difference between the two very similar words in 'I Wonder as I Wander' (not as easy as you'd think). This is a smashing arrangement from Stuart Calvert - sweet sparkling harp ripples that sound magical but don't disturb the vocal line. The storytelling and the last verse, mostly unaccompanied, are especially good.

'Corpus Christi Carol' from Britten's 'A Boy Was Born', came as a real surprise. For me, this is easily the best on this CD. High, haunting floated notes at the opening and closing of the song set the mood and the interpretation of the words is beautiful.

The last two songs are what I'd call Christmas Chestnuts and although they are well performed - 'Walking in the Air' was nicely evocative and 'Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire' had a cosy warmth.

So there it is - a highly enjoyable hour of gentle Christmas music. I'd recommend that you listen after all the presents are opened and the children have been packed off to make a snowman. And for those of you who never read sleeve notes (shame on you!) make an exception with this CD, for there's an added treat. Charlotte de Rothschild writes about Christmas at her family's home in Exbury. It's an affectionate description of an idyllic country Christmas and reading it made me come over all Christmassy - and it's only October.

5 out of 5 stars - Amazon October 2013

Soothing Holiday Music to Heal Jangled Shopping Nerves

If your nerves are frayed by shopping the malls where "A Holly Jolly Christmas" or "The Little Drummer Boy" are being blasted out with 16-percent harmonic distortion by inadequately powered sound systems, Christmas Lullabies might be just the album for you.

Charlotte de Rothschild is a member of the famous Rothschild banking family of England. She studied singing in Salzburg and London. She has specialized in recital and oratorio repertory, which has led her to a vast knowledge of concert hall songs. This has allowed her to put together recitals that have a theme as their basis. Fairy Songs is one such, A Japanese Journey is another, as is Christmas Lullabies. She has also recorded a two-disc set of songs by her neglected ancestor, Mathilde de Rothschild, who studied with Chopin.

...De Rothschild’s voice is a pure and lovely soprano belying her age but it is guided by a sensibility and understanding that come only with time. Her singing is, then, the best of two worlds, and it was a masterstroke to have her accompanied by the solo harp of Danielle Perrett.

Together the two women present music mostly written by, or arranged by, 20th-century songwriters. Edmund Rubbra and Peter Warlock are each represented by two songs each and John Ireland’s well-known “The Holy Boy” is there as well. One of my favorites, "The Little Road to Bethlehem," by Michael Head, is exquisitely and simply performed to great effect; and "I Wonder as I Wander" by America’s own John Jacob Niles is given longing and wondrous expression.

To break up the program and keep it from being too much the same, there are four pieces for harp alone, the best of which is a sumptuous arrangement of "What Child is This," which is, in turn, an arrangement of "Greensleeves." The other harp interludes are "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence," "Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming," and "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."

At the end of the disc, Charlotte de Rothschild essays two more pop-oriented tunes with great success. Howard Blake's "Walking in the Air" from the animated short The Snowman sounds tailor made for voice and harp even if it can’t quite eclipse the memory of Peter Auty's original. The Rothschild-Perrett version of "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" is straightforward, unfussy, and very beautiful.

The recorded sound is excellent, the voice and harp well balanced with each sounding crisp and clear. All in all, this is a welcome album of holiday music in a quieter and reflective vein.

Rad Bennett - Sound Stage Network December 2013

I was the fortunate one. I found myself listening to this disc in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It popped through the letter box just as Advent was starting.

This voice and harp combination has worked together many times both in concert all over the world and in the recording studio. I reviewed their Fairy Songs in 2012 (NI 6193) and they recorded some pieces of mine in 2011 (Regent REGCD381). They have been superb advocates of British music for some time especially of the earlier twentieth century as demonstrated here, but this also quite an eclectic choice including some popular songs of the pre-war era.

Many of the songs will be quite familiar. In truth I didn't realise that some of them worked so well on the harp. Examples include Warlock's The First Mercy and Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, here arranged beguilingly by one Robert Wells.

The slim CD booklet notes have been written by Charlotte de Rothschild herself and centre on her home, Christmas at Exbury. This anthology is therefore her own, rather personal reflection on childhood Christmases. It's a reminder of times past and of the way in which these English composers represented would themselves have probably experienced the great day.

I often write in some frustration about lack of texts and this disc has none. Is it a question of cost? De Rothschild's diction is mostly very reliable but the texts represented here are surely not much in copyright. It would have been good to have had them to hand. There is also no information about any of the music or the composers. Instead there are the usual artist’s biographies.

I will pick out a few of my favourite tracks.

Michael Head is such an underrated song composer. His Little Road to Bethlehem always comes back fresh. Then again, what about the equally lovely Star Candles,both using texts by Margaret Rose. Roger Quilter, represented by his exquisite An Old Carol and Edmund Rubbra, when a young man, were just two of those British composers who were to rediscover old English poetry and set it. Jesukin was composed when Rubbra was about 22. The even better known A Hymn to the Virgin was written just a short time later. They deliberately capture a medieval mood with parallel harmonies, open fifths and simple modal melodies. Perrett recorded them both back in 1998 (ASV CD DCA 1036) with the lovely and much lamented Tracey Chadwell.

There are four much appreciated harp solos. What a pity that an unaccompanied vocal one could not have been placed somewhere. Especially charming is Perrett's own arrangement of What Child is this? to the tune, as it always has been, of Greensleeves. There are three arrangements by Mary Hogan Cambern, herself a harpist. Especially unusual and interesting is the hymn Let all mortal flesh keep silence.

The most idiomatic accompaniments are the ones especially designed for harp, especially pleasing is Canadian composer Stuart Calvert's arrangement of the American carol I wonder as I wander. In this he does not allow himself to fall into the some of the usual 'soupy' harmonies.

Charlotte de Rothschild has an effortless and unforced vocal timbre. Sometimes it may appear a little strained in the very highest register when singing piano. That said, it can easily turn to the dramatic as it does convincingly in Adam’s ubiquitous Cantique de Noël. How refreshing to hear a woman sing this as opposed to some imposing operatic tenor. Danielle Perrett plays with totally assured calm, dexterity and elegance. For my taste, in some tracks, I would have wanted the harp a little more prominent in the overall stereo image.

The whole disc, which as can be seen below, traces a journey from Christ’s conception to birth, is a complete delight and worthy of any Christmas stocking.

Gary Higginson August 2013

1. Edmund RUBBRA (1901-1986) A Hymn to the Virgin Op. 13 no. 2 [2.48]
2. Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930) Adam Lay ybounden [1.33]
3. Edmund RUBBRA Jesukin Op. 4 no. 2 [1.49]
4. Roger QUILTER (1877-1953) A Old Carol Op. 25 no. 3 [2.57]
5. Thomas DUNHILL (1877-1946) To the Queen of Heaven [2.19]
6. Old French Carol arr. Mary HOGAN CAMBERN Let all mortal flesh keep silence [2.18]
7. Max REGER (1873-1916) Maria Wiegenlied Op. 76 no. 52 [2.10]
8. Roger QUILTER The Cradle in Bethlehem [3.25]
9. Michael HEAD (1900-1976) The Little Road to Bethlehem [2.58]
10. Michael PRAETORIUS (1571-1621) arr. Hogan Cambern Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming (solo harp) [2.10]
11. Michael HEAD Star Candles [2.38]
12. Peter WARLOCK The First mercy [2.56]
13. John IRELAND (1879-1962) The Holy Boy [2.45]
14. Trad. arr. Perrett What Child is This (solo harp)
15. Peter CORNELIUS (1824-1874) Die Könige
16. Adolphe ADAM (1803-1856) Cantique de Noël
17. John Jacob NILES (1892-1980) arr. Stuart Calvert I wonder as I wander [3.44]
18. Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Corpus Christi Carol [3.18]
19. 13th Cent. arr. Hogan Cambern O Come, O Come Emmanuel [3.14]
20. Howard BLAKE (b.1938) Walking in the Air [4.10]
21. Mel TORME (1925-1999) arr. Robert Wells Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire [2.22]

シナモン、ミンスパイ(訳注/干しぶどう、りんごなどを刻んで砂糖、香料、ス エット〔牛や羊の腎臓の周りの脂肪で、料理に用いられる〕などを加えて混ぜたものを詰めて焼いたパイで、イギリスのクリスマスの定番料理)、ソーセージロール(訳注/ソーセージ用に味付けした挽肉をパイ皮で包んで焼いたミートパイ)を焼くキッチンの匂いが、クリスマス・シーズンの最初のスペシャル・イヴェント ― クリスマス・キャロルを歌う人たちを迎えるのである! ― を準備している家の中を漂う。キャロルを歌う人たちは、教区司祭に導かれて、通常は最初のキャロルを家の外で歌い、それから玄関に入って、照明がすべて灯されたすばらしい眺めのクリスマスツリーの横で歌うことになっている。そして私たちはキャロルの楽譜を手渡され、さあ今度は私たちも歌い始める。《ダビデの村に Once in Royal David's City》、《かいばの桶で(まぶねの中に)Away in a manger》、《神の御子は今宵しも O come all ye faithful》といった大好きな曲を歌うのである。父からのスペシャル・リクエストもある。《われらはきたりぬ We three Kings》と《ウェンセスラスはよい王様Good King Wenceslas》である ― その時は、男たちが元気いっぱいの声で歌うのだが、教区司祭以外は、時折音がかなりはずれるのだった。母はいつも《聖しこの夜 Silent Night》をリクエストし、1938 年に逃げてこなければならなかったオーストリアを思って、ホームシックの涙を流すのだった。そして、私たちの歌の集いの途中で、マルドワイン(訳注/温めて砂糖や香料を入れたワイン)、ミンスパイ、チョコレートエクレアが出されるのである。

クリスマスイヴの朝には、天候にかかわらず、私たちは全員いちばん暖かい服を着せられて、家の外に追い出される。最後の準備をするためである。男の子たちと父は、敷地のいちばん高いところに行って、クリスマス用のキジ肉を得るために、銃で猟をする。そして最後に私たちは、例年通り、庭園の北部にある庭師の小屋に集まる。そこでは、大きなたき火が楽しそうに燃え、私たちは燃えさしの中でちょうどよくできあがったベイクドポテトと、紙皿に入れられたシチューを食べるのである。私の双子の弟のライオネルは、毎年小屋の壁板に、全員のイニシャルを木炭で書いていた。そして、どの犬が落ちた食べ物のかけらをうれしそうにきれいに掃除してくれたのか、その名前を記すことに特別な注意を払っていた! ちょうどこのピクニックが終わる時に、私たちはカーラジオに突進して、3 時ぴったりにスイッチを入れるのを常としていた。ケンブリッジ・キングズ・カレッ ジのトレブル聖歌隊員が、《ダビデの村に》を歌うのを聴くためである。

5 時 30 分になると、私たちは居間で職員パーティーを開く。母は、適切なプレゼントを選ぶのに、一年中大きな気を遣っていた。それが終わると、クリスマスの前夜、床に就く時間がくる。父は、一足の長く厚い、ウールの狩猟用靴下を勇敢に手放してくれ、私たちはそれを子供部屋の防火衝立にぶら下げ、サンタクロースのためにビスケットとシェリー酒を置いておく。私はいつも真夜中に起きて、ベッドの脚の方に触ってみることにしていた。気をそそられるような、異なった形のでこぼこしたものが、魔法のように靴下に入れられているのがわかる。しかしながら、翌朝まで待って、両親の部屋に降りていって、両親の大きなベッドの上で、みんなで靴下を開けるというのが、わが家のルールだった。中には、悪ふざけのプレゼント、靴下の指部分に入れられたタンジェリン(みかん)、役に立つものなどが、いろいろと取り混ぜて入っていた。

昼になると、おじ、おば、いとこが、全員そろってやってきて、大プレゼント交換会となる。そして、飾り立てられた七面鳥、クリスマスプディング、ブランデーバター (訳注/バターと砂糖を混ぜ合わせ、ブラ ンデーで香りを付けたクリーム。クリスマスプディングやミンスパイにつけて食べる)、クラッカーの、おいしい伝統的な昼食が続く。その後は、ゲームをしたり、散歩をしたりする。こうして、もうひとつのスペシャル・エクスベリー・クリスマスが終わるのである。

私はキリスト教系の女子校で育ったので、幼い頃から宗教音楽に触れていた。私の学校は、ソールズベリー大聖堂とウィンチェスター大聖堂の近くにあった。私は 15 歳の時に歌のレッスンを開始し、すぐにその地域の周辺でコンサートを開く小さな聖歌隊のメンバーになった。私はまた、学校の主要な聖歌隊にも入り、毎週火曜日にはブライアンストンの男子校にいき、そこでバッハの《ロ短調ミサ曲》、ヘンデルの《メサイア》、ティペットの《われらの時代の子》、さらには他のインスピレーションに満ちたオラトリオを歌った。その後、 20 代初期の頃に、私はバッハ・クワイアのメンバーとなり、再びあらゆる偉大な合唱作品を歌った。幸運なことに、私はエクセター、ウェルズ、トルロの大聖堂では独唱を担当することができ、ケンブリッジ・キングズ・カレッジでも、サー・デイヴィッ ド・ウィルコックスの指揮で独唱を担当している。また別の機会には、私はロムジー 修道院、リンカーン、エリー、ピーターバラ、チチェスターの各大聖堂でも歌っている。これらの偉大な建築物の壮麗さと静けさは、私がこの聖なるクリスマス歌曲集の

CD を作ろうと思うインスピレーションを与えてくれた一因となっている。もうひとつの要因は、実にシンプルで、12 月になると、私はどこにいてもクリスマス・キャロルを歌うのに参加してきたこと、そしてクリスマス・シーズンの音楽は楽しいということである。このキリスト教という宗教の力、あるいはこれらの歌が提示するメッセージを理解するのに、キリスト教徒である必要はない。アドルフ・アダンを別として、主として 20 世紀の作曲家によってクリスマスの出来事が描かれたこれらの歌は、そのひとつひとつが独自の価値を持った宝石なのである。この CD は、出来事の順を追って、曲目が配列されている。処女マリアを称えるところから始まって、最後に、新しく生まれた赤ん坊に礼拝するために王たち(東方の三博士)が到着するのである。そしてそれぞれの歌は、本質的に天上的な性質を持っているので、“子守歌” としてのテーマにも合ったものとなっている。


RSVP December 2016


Christmas Lullabies

The marvellously pure voice of Charlotte de Rothschild is the perfect vehicle for this repertoire. Good that she begins with some Rubbra, too: "A Hymn to the Virgin" is given with a lovely legato and some wonderful phrase shadings. "Jesukin", too, is the epitome of Christmas-spiced beauty. It is de Rothschild's ability to spin a simple line so magically that enthrals...

Harp solos are strategically placed for variety's sake, and they provide their own brand of magic. Then there is the ever-popular "Walking in the Air", as inevitable as it is poignant. Those chestnuts which roast every year in an open fire provide a fitting end, especially as the song ends with the words "Merry Christmas to you", the perfect way to leave the listener. A lovely, heart-warming disc. Enjoy.

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required


Exbury Estate Office
Nr. Southampton
Hampshire SO45 1AZ