“They sing with absolute fluency and authority.”
The Coming of Christ is sung by the Gloriæ Dei Cantores Schola and conducted by Dr. Mary Berry, CBE. These reknowned experts bring a wealth of experience to the interpretation of the Gregorian chant. Well-known pieces alternate with numerous antiphons to bring us closer to the time of Christ's birth and early childhood. The prophetic announcements, the longing and anticipation of Christ's birth as well as the joy of the angels' message are all vividly portrayed in the Gregorian chant. Chant-based organ works by Alexandre Guilmant and Charles-Marie Widor frame this program celebrating the life of Christ.
“Gramophone's own Mary Berry conducts with unassailable authority. The singers create an atmosphere that is retained impressively throughout.”
- “A constant shimmer of tiny accents and stresses sparking the words into life...This is music that has been 'lived in' by these performers, and they give us a sense that their journey of musical and spiritual discovery has been worth making.”
- “Here is the story of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, the presentation, and finally, the vexation of Mary and Joseph when they cannot locate the young boy in crowded Jerusalem. It begins with Aspiciens a longe, and ecce video Dei potentiam venientem, the powerful statement of the approach of God. It continues with antiphons and canticles from Isaiah foretelling the Annunciation (Ecce virgo concipiet) and Luke's powerful telling (Ne timeas Maria).
In clear, flowing Gregorian chant, with a warmth of tone, but no loss of intonation, from women's and men's voices together, the story unfolds. The centerpiece is a marvelous Magnificat anima mea Dominum followed by Mirabile mysterium declaratur hodie- A wondrous mystery is revealed this day. The recording opens and closes with organ works, an Offertory based on Conditor alme siderum (Creator of the stars of night) by Guilmant, and the Finale of Widor's Symphonie Gothique, a variation on Puer natus. It is a beautiful telling of the Story.”
The Living Church
- “This is the first in a series of three recordings that illuminate the life of Jesus through Gregorian chant. Gloriæ Dei Cantores Schola, conducted by renowned chant scholar Mary Berry, performs the music for the series. Praised for its ‘expert renditions of Gregorian chant,’ Gloriæ Dei Cantores is a group of men and women dedicated to studying and performing chant. On this disc, the singers present a variety of pieces, including numerous seasonal antiphons, which celebrate Advent and Christmas. The singing is superb. Always flowing and unforced, it is not only technically accurate but also has excellent ensemble, tuning and balance. The ‘antiphon and solemn magnificat,’ is particularly enchanting, with a wonderful sense of space and mystery. The program is designed with a strong narrative theme. The different pieces contrast men's and women's voices and occasionally combine both. The program notes are informative, and the well-designed booklet contains full texts and translations. This disc will delight chant enthusiasts and is an excellent resource of both repertoire and performance practice styles for choir directors. It is also the perfect antidote to the usual Christmas music. Highly recommended.”
- “There is some splendid singing on this collection of chant for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Gloriæ Dei Cantores Schola specialize in the daily singing of Gregorian chant and their familiarity with its various repertoires is very much in evidence in this wide-ranging anthology. ... long, melismatic phrases of the Matins responsory Aspiciens a longe, in which the women of the Cantores are particularly impressive. The men follow ... and [chant]one of considerable beauty, the seventeeth-century chant for Rorate Caeli ... [Other] outstanding moments should be mentioned: the Nunc dimittis intoned with its Gradual for the same feast Omnes de Saba. Chant aficionados will certainly want this, but anyone searching for genuinely uplifting music for Christmas also need not hesitate.”
International Record Review
- “Gregorian Chant sung in authentic style it is the first CD of a projected series ‘that illuminates the life of Jesus through the exquisite music of the Gregorian chant.’ The choice of Gregorian chants in between these works is original and intriguing an anthology of 35 melodies from the Christmas season. Some are fairly well known, but several of them are rarities that add interestingly to the available recorded repertory they sing with absolute fluency and authority. They sing in the best-researched Solesmes style something that is still not often heard. Gramophone's own Mary Berry conducts with unassailable authority. The singers create an atmosphere that is retained impressively throughout.”
- “Here is a program of chant that includes prophecies of Christ's coming, the story of his nativity, a glance at John the Baptist, who preceded him, and even a magnificat (which Mary expressed nine months before Christ was born). Dr. Mary Berry is one of the leading Gregorian scholars, and all the singing is excellent, in perfect style. ... elegant and sincere, and if you are looking for Christmas Gregorian Chant it will do nicely. It was recorded at the Church of the Transfiguration in Cape Cod, and there are an organ prelude and postlude (Guilmant and Widor).”
American Record Guide