Christmas at Downton Abbey


Perhaps it’s because each of the two albums opens with the sinister, furtive orchestral theme music to the TV show, but Christmas At Downton Abbey is much more in-the-bleak-mid-winter (one of the 45 carols on this double album) than holly-jolly cheer. 

Julian Ovenden, who plays Charles Blake on the popular British period drama, often holds down the lead, his operatic baritone keeping things dramatic and solemn. Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Cora) offers her clear, bright pipes on It Came Upon A Midnight Clear and The First Noel.

All the standards are here: O Holy Night, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Joy To The World. The Choir of King’s College is traditionally classical, as are appearances by New Zealand soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. 

Traditional (and Christian) is the name of the game here – no surprise for a show set in post-Edwardian England – but dull and soulless nonetheless to those of us listening in modern, multicultural times.

Top track: Panis Angelicus    

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