The final track on our album It Came Upon The Midnight Clear and other carols is the ancient French piece, ‘Noel Nouvelet’. Like many traditional melodies it has a complicated history that means there are a variety of sources, largely inconsistent. This in no way detracts from the majestic power of this melody which made it a fitting ending to the album. In fact it was originally a New Year’s carol which dated back to the 1500s and appeared in the 1721 ‘Great Bible of Christmas Carols’ containing 13 verses!
‘Noel Nouvelet’ is a tune which possesses great dramatic potential and this arrangement has many virtuosic passages with a driving semiquaver accompaniment. In the second half there is a mini development section where a fragment of the main theme is passed around the instruments of the quartet before a downward chromatic sequence leads to a rousing coda. All in all a fitting end to two CDs spanning some 46 carols and several centuries of wonderful Christmas music!