High energy, beautiful early music perfect for the holidays and the rest of the year!
A Feast of Songs: Holiday Music from the Middle Ages is a lively collection of ancient songs and dances that celebrate the winter season, including Christmas, the Winter Solstice, and other associated festivals and holidays. Songs from the British Isles, Ireland, Germany, France, Poland and Sweden infuse Medieval and Renaissance melodies with a vibrant energy that awakens the spirits of past ages. This recording includes vocals and a huge variety of traditional and period acoustic instruments, with creative musical arrangements that remain true to tradition but breathe fresh live and energy. Fans of this CD also like Loreena McKennitt, Ethan James, Dead Can Dance, Shira Kammen, Anonymous 4, and Angels of Venice.
Barry and Beth Hall sing and perform on lute, dulcimer, viola, violin, mandolin, guitar, sitgar, flute, recorders, French horn, herald trumpet, doumbek, tar, bodhrán, tabor, tambourine, cymbals, bells, African drums, and other percussion instruments.
The duo have performed as soloists and with ensembles throughout the concert halls of North America and the cathedrals of Europe. Their musical performances have been featured on National Public Radio (All Things Considered, The World), PBS Television, BBC Television and at the Smithsonian Institution. Barry and Beth have had the pleasure of performing and recording with fine traditional and early music luminaries including Shira Kammen (Ensemble Alcatraz, Fortune's Wheel), Peter Maund (Ensemble Alcatraz, Skyedance), Distant Oaks, Coro Hispano de San Francisco, Heliotrope, and Ethan James.
Several tracks from their CD "A Feast of Songs" spent weeks in the #1 position on the Medieval and Renaissance Top 40 charts at MP3.com. See below for reviews from other online sources:
The Best Medieval Christmas CD--Ever! , December 31, 2003
What a find this remarkable CD is! If you love authentic Medieval music, played with the authentic instruments of its time and sung in the same way that a nobleman's court of the 14th or 15th Century might have heard it, this is the one for you. Beth and Barry Hall, both very gifted musicians, offer the finest collection of European Medieval carols I have yet found, and I have a large collection of the music of this period. A bravissima performance to be savored all year round. Good Lords and Ladies all, grab this one!
- "Strega2" (USA)
The best medieval holiday music yet! A trip through time, and so well done. I have listened to many others, and this one rates the best! I am looking forward to their next release!
Maryann Micillo (North Massapequa, NY, USA)
I have been listening to this album for two Christmas seasons and never seem to tire of it. The instrumental pieces are very well done, beautifully providing delicate, intricate harmonies. The vocal numbers are equally well done. There is a nice selection of songs, some familiar to the modern listener, and some providing a good introduction to medieval music. This is Christmas music for all ages.
- Damien F. Gray (Austin, TX USA))
If A Nonesuch Christmas was your favorite holiday album, rejoice! There is FINALLY a worthy successor.
Barry and Beth Hall have compiled a collection of all our favorite Christmas music from the Middle Ages - and their performances put everyone else to shame.
Including the lyrics would have been a nice touch, but those are available at many web sites, so I won't quibble. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
- A music fan
One of the Best Christmas CDs on the Planet
This is holiday music from the middle ages, by Barry and Beth Hall. They do performances of my favorite antique classics such as "Masters in this Hall", "Quem Pastores Laudavere" (a 14th-century Latin chant, performance reminiscent of a midnight monastic Gregorian chant, with deep-toned church bells and ritual drumming); "Mors Vitae Propitia" (high energy 12th-century French song from Piae Cantiones, sung in Latin and accompanied by vielle, lute, flute and percussion); "Personent Hodie" (medieval song from the Piae Cantiones, sung in Latin and accompanied by recorders, vielle, lute and percussion); and "Nous Voici Dans La Ville" (haunting traditional French melody, performed on fiddle, mandolin and recorder).
Their sound is phenomenal, and this CD belongs in every Christmas collection.
- Karen De Coster (Clinton Township, MI USA)