RECORDINGS

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David Mellor
The Mail on Sunday, November 2011
*****
Campbell, who contributes an attractive carol of her own, Sleep My Dreaming One, has chosen music that is reflective rather than extrovert, tonal but never facile, and with real spiritual depth. I love it.

Brian Wilson Download Roundup
MusicWeb International, December 2011
The music is a sheer delight and the performances good enough for me to predict that I shall be listening to this a good deal this Christmas and beyond.

Geoffrey Norris
Daily Telegraph, December 2011
The vocal ensemble Blossom Street has cast its net wide to find a broad spectrum of lullabies ranging from a 16th-century O Emanuel to a modern setting by Daniel Burges of the words of the Coventry Carol, together with other contemporary treatments of sacred or soothing texts, sensitively sung.

Sarah Bryan Miller
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 2011
The voices are lovely and the music is in a contemplative vein, just right for those days when relentless commercial holiday music threatens to overwhelm the holiday spirit. © St Louis Post-Dispatch

MDT, December 2011
Blossom Street is a popular and ambitious young vocal ensemble, and their flexibility of style is ideal for a selection from the new Shorter House published collection which ranges from the ancient to the brand new. This fine recording will be a first choice for originality this Christmas.

John Quinn
MusicWeb International, December 2011
This is an enjoyable and enterprising collection, which works on two fronts. It's a nice disc in its own right, offering some welcome new listening for the Christmas season. In addition, its a good showcase for the book of music with which its linked and I hope that will stimulate interest from choir directors and lead to some of these pieces taking their place in the repertoire of choirs that like a challenge and something different. There is far more substance to this collection of music.

Stephen Eddins
All Music, December 2011
It is made up mostly of music by contemporary British composers, including the group's capable director, Hilary Campbell, as well as Renaissance works by Pierre de Manchicourt and Richard Pygott, and the majority of pieces are recorded here for the first time. It's an attractive collection that should especially appeal to listeners looking for new Christmas music that's easily recognizable as Christmas music, mostly in the tradition of modern British anthems and carols.

Mark Pullinger
International Record Review, December 2011
A disc of lullabies seems like asking for trouble, however beautifully sung, but the quality of musical inspiration on 'Sleep, holy Babe' means that I never once threatened to doze off, despite a late-night glass of mulled wine or two! Solo singing is of a consistently high standard and Blossom Street's voices blend well.

Steven Whitehead
Cross Rhythms, November 2011
The singing is a cappella throughout and absolutely first class and the content is well worth investigating. This is well worth investigating whether you like to explore less familiar material or enjoy top class a cappella singing or indeed both. And, as with all Naxos releases, this is outstanding value for money.

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Norman Lebrecht

Sinfini Music, July 2013

*****

Album of the Week 22 July and Choral Album of the Year

At the risk of prejudicing any latecomers and with 2013 barely half gone, I declare this release to be my choral album of the year. I’d be stupefied if anything stronger comes long. Wrap your ears around Judith Bingham’s 'The Orphan Girl' and marvel at her ingenious harmonies. John Duggan’s 'Over the Moon' puts you right there: into the blue beyond. Hilary Campbell’s setting of 'Blow the Wind Southerly' drags the old ditty two generations away from Ferrier’s hand-crafted, perilous simplicities to an era of faceless industrial fishing. The standout track is James MacMillan’s 'Lassie, Wad Ye Loe Me?', a Scottish maiden’s misty dirge with a defiant undertone. Terrific stuff.

 

David Mellor

Classic FM, New Releases Show, July 2013

Simply lovely. I cannot recommend this disc too highly

 

 

Philip Reed

Choir and Organ, October 2013

Under founder-director Hilary Campbell, Blossom Street offers an attractive programme that shows off the group’s best qualities: impeccable balance between the voice parts (the sweet-voiced sopranos are especially appealing) and excellent intonation.  Campbell’s own ‘Blow the Wind Southerly’ is a particularly effective arrangement and here give a most affectionate reading.

 

Edward Greenfield

Gramophone, October 2013

The ensemble’s second disc for Naxos, a collection of British folksongs, is far from conventional, starting as it does with a lovely setting of a Scottish folksong, ‘Lassie wad you loe me’ by James MacMillan.  It is some indication of the quality of the 23 singers in Blossom Street that all the solos are outstanding, pure and true…. The recording is excellent, vivid and immediate with a nice feeling of atmosphere.

 

John Quinn

MusicWeb International, October 2013

I first encountered Hilary Campbell and her chamber choir, Blossom Street, with their Christmas disc, Sleep, Holy Babe. For their second, equally enjoyable Naxos entry they turn their attention to arrangements of British folk songs.   The programme intriguingly mixes what I might call tried and trusted arrangements by the generation of Vaughan Williams and Holst with a number of more recent arrangements. It will be noted that seven of the pieces are receiving their first recordings and, in fact, those by Paul Burke, Stuart Murray Turnbull and Hilary Campbell herself were composed specifically for this recording.  James MacMillan’s Lassie, Wad Ye Loe Me? strikes me as a conspicuous success. It’s a traditional Scottish tune and MacMillan’s arrangement is full of Celtic atmosphere. The harmonies are evocative and interesting and MacMillan, as so often in his choral music, communicates very directly and effectively. I was also extremely taken with Paul Burke’s Fare Thee Well. This features some lovely light choral textures and the writing is consistently interesting and skilful. Among the earlier generation of arrangers we find the doyen of folk song revitalisers, Vaughan Williams, and his great friend, Holst, whose arrangement of a Welsh tune was unknown to me: it’s very good. Grainger’s arrangement of a traditional Scottish tune is tender and touching; there’s just enough spice in the harmonies to make for interesting listening without overwhelming the fragile tune. This is given one of the best performances on the disc and Hilary Campbell shapes it really well.   The singing of Blossom Street gives much pleasure. The choir numbers 23 (6/5/6/6) and the sound is consistently fresh and well-balanced. 

 

 

Terry Blain
BBC Music magazine, August 2014 ****

Seven premiere recordings here, in a programme offering a genuine expansion in our understanding of Warlock. The Full Heart, in eight parts, is particularly striking. Gorgeous sound; highly engaging, dedicated performances.

 

Philip Reed

Choir and Organ Magazine, July 2014

It’s a very enjoyable programme ... Campbell and her chamber-sized choir Blossom Street give committed readings of this repertoire, which time and again reveals Warlock’s highly attuned sensitivity to text. 

 

Steven Whitehead

Cross Rhythms, March 2014

Everything in this collection is enjoyable. Credit for this must go to Hilary Campbell and her Blossom Street singers who sound lovely. Five of the 20 tracks are world premiere recordings so dedicated followers of Peter Warlock will be keen to hear this. Those who know him only for "Bethlehem Down" will enjoy making his better acquaintance and all who have an interest in English choral music will appreciate this digital-only release.

 

Brian Wilson

MusicWeb Internation, April 2014

I’m happy to have the familiar here, such as Bethlehem Down, for the sake of so much that is unfamiliar – there are six world premiere recordings here… This being Peter Warlock, there’s nothing prim and proper – The Shrouding of the Duchess of Malfi is really spooky – and the performances match the music. The recording is good, too.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2019

Personal favourites come from Elizabeth Maconchy with This Day, and Nicola LeFanu’s perfectly shaped Misterium mirabile. The release continues my admiration for Blossom Street and their conductor, Hilary Campbell. Here containing twelve female singers, it is ideally balanced, and mercifully avoids those searing sopranos that have become fashionable elsewhere.

 

Andrew MacGregor

Record Review, Radio 3, January 2019

There are so many beauties to be discovered here from a captivating new piece like [O Splendidissima Gemma] to [Ave Maria] by Rebecca Clarke, ending with the piece by Elizabeth Maconchy that gives the album its title, This Day. … A fine way to celebrate of century of female suffrage.  Worth the wait – it’s a really good recording as well.

© 2016 Hilary Campbell

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