MOR­MON TABER­NA­CLE CHOIR Ring Christ­mas Bells (Mor­mon Taber­na­cle Choir)

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

Much as I love the per­form­ing arts and in­ter­ested as I am in the wor­ship tra­di­tions and car­ols of Christ­mas­tide, I’ve never been one to swoon at cho­ruses ar­ranged in the shape of a tiered Christ­mas tree, hol­i­day con­certs mix­ing song, dance, or­gan, or­ches­tra, and mime, or cross­over Christ­mas al­bums by opera, R & B, coun­try, pop, and Amer­i­can Idol you-name-it soloists. As for the in­dis­crim­i­nate use of hand bells, it’s noth­ing less than an au­ral as­sault. Now that I’ve got­ten that off my chest, let me say that this smil­ingly earnest disc, which is also avail­able as what seems to be a sen­sory-over­load DVD, is ac­tu­ally a great deal of fun to lis­ten to. The Mor­mon Taber­na­cle Choir is mas­sive, but un­der con­duc­tor Mack Wil­berg, the hun­dreds of mem­bers achieve some good dy­namic con­trol from very soft to train-whis­tle loud, and they are, as al­ways, a su­perbly schooled en­sem­ble. The con­glom­er­ate of or­ches­tra play­ers, or­gan­ist, and hand­bell play­ers add to the merry din with lots of en­thu­si­asm and en­ergy, and Brian Stokes Mitchell, who has some clas­si­cal cred­its as well as Broad­way chops of gold, weighs in won­der­fully — though I ad­mit I’d rather hear “Jesu, Joy of Man’s De­sir­ing” sung a bit more au­then­ti­cally. Put this one on when you want to raise some Christ­mas spirit, and pass round the was­sail bowl. — Craig Smith

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