Album Reviews

The Great British Barbershop Boys: Christmas Time £12.99

Aiming to reignite the interest in the 1940s barbershop genre with this collection of Christmas hits, the group first gained attention when they represented the UK at the International Barbershop Convention in Philadelphia. The 16 tracks on their debut include It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, Deck The Halls, Silent Night and Jingle Bells. The result is twee but inoffensive. It's advisable to take regular breaks between the songs as like the most sugary Christmas treats, too many and you end up feeling worse for the wear. PW

Aled Jones: Aled's Christmas Gift 12.99

The Walking In The Air singer releases a mix of classical, pop and easy listening that will appeal to fans of Russell Watson and Daniel O'Donnell alike. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the arrangement of the songs and as such this plays a focal point on the album. For example, the plucking of a harp on Away In A Manger and the acapella section of In The Bleak Midwinter add a touch of quality to proceedings. This is an album which doesn't offer up any surprises but nevertheless is of a good quality. PW

Janacek: String Quartets/Dvorak: Cypresses (Regis RRC 1361) 6.99

Turning the clock back to those heady days when The Lindsays placed Sheffield on the international chamber music map, their infinitely detailed performances of Janacek's disturbed and deeply moving pair of quartets were the critic's number one choice for many years. They don't pull back from the horrid sounds the composer wanted, their dramatic intensity given full vent. Yet here, and in Dvorak's twelve Cypresses, they also show considerable poetic beauty, much helped by well-detailed sound from 1991. DD

Britten: Serenade/Winter Words/Seven Sonnets (Regis RRC 1365) 6.99

Three seminal recordings of Britten's song cycles composed for and sung here by Peter Pears. Then we have the presence of Dennis Brain, who inspired the horn

part in the Serenade, while Britten is heard in the much detailed piano accompaniment for the remaining works. He composed all three to exploit the highly personal voice of Pears. It is beginning to show its 1950s origins, but the refurbished quality is exemplary. DD