We all know about the Christmas Creep: that phenomenon of Christmas celebrations inching earlier and earlier into the year. There’s something a little unsettling about seeing Christmas decorations in the aisles of stores before Halloween. What happened to the halcyon days of waiting until Thanksgiving? This year New York Polyphony, the acclaimed vocal quartet, decided to contribute to the Christmas Creep by releasing their newest album, Sing Thee Nowell, in early September—and I couldn’t be more delighted.
I’ve been following New York Polyphony for several years now, and I’ve always been impressed with their work. This album however, is excellent even by their already high standards. Sing The Nowell is a wonderful blend of old and new Christmas carols. In typical fashion for New York Polyphony, their recording features standards like Victoria’s “O Magnum Mysterium” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and works by contemporary composers such as Andrew Smith and Richard Bennett—whose Five Carols are excellently performed. But the real gems of this recording are Verdelot’s “Gabriel Archangelus” and several compositions and arrangements by members of the quartet.