“Following on from the 2010 release of I Saw Three Ships and Other Carols, this is a second volume of instrumental Christmas carols arranged for string quartet. This collection continues in a similar vein, but has developed a life of its own, exploring the Christmas musical tradition from countries such as France, Germany, Ireland and the Ukraine – as well as many well loved carols from the British Isles. Researching the history of these carols has made me aware of the often piecemeal nature of their development (such as ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ and ‘Jingle Bells’), where luck often played a part in arriving at the final versions that we know and love today. Many started life in a non-religious form or for purposes other than being played at Christmas (‘Good King Wenceslas’ and ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ being two well-known examples). Whatever their origins, we hope that by re-arranging and harmonising these pieces for string quartet, we have given them a fresh feel, with original counter melodies illuminating the traditional tunes in an authentic way.”
Vaughan Jones 2011
“As before, the arrangements have been made by Vaughan Jones, leader of the ensemble, and prove to be consistently imaginative and energetic.” – Classical Source
“Tasteful, heartfelt interpretations of Christmas standards all wrapped up in professional arrangements original enough to make them sound fresh again” – Classical Music Sentinel
“I haven’t even begun to tire of last year’s Christmas CD from England’s Manor House String Quartet, and already there is a new one! And as with the first, the distinguishing features of ‘It Came Upon A Midnight Clear’ are the outstanding arrangements of violinist Vaughan Jones (check out ‘Carol of the Bells’ and the following ‘To Drive The Cold Winter Away’ for particularly nice examples). Jones simply does a superb job of combining sensitivity to the original spirit and melody of a carol with a strong sense of how the particular qualities of a string quartet could make the music sound new to our ears.”– Dr. Gerry Grzyb, (Dr. Christmas) Appleton Post Crescent
Vaughan Jones (Violin and Arranger)
Vaughan is a prolific string arranger who began learning the violin at the age of 8, going on to study at Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal College of Music, before playing with many of the leading London Orchestras. He now concentrates fully on performing chamber music and working as a string arranger. In recent years he has studied with Hungarian violin teacher Kato Havas and in 2007, switched from an 18th century instrument to a superior hand made violin by luthier Martin McClean of Northern Ireland.
Louise Bevan (Violin)
Louise also composes and arranges music alongside a busy career as a violinist working frequently with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the CBSO. Louise also plays on a modern violin, hand made by luthier William Luff in 1982.In 2007, Louise was invited to perform her ‘Five Scandinavian Pieces’ at the Dorset Composers’ Festival to great acclaim.
Adrian Smith (Viola)
As a soloist Adrian has performed much of the viola repertoire including performances of pieces such as the Bartok Concerto, the Bruch Romance and Hindemith Trauermusik while maintaining a busy career in London orchestras and the West End alongside his work with the quartet. He plays a modern viola made in 2009 by Scottish luthier Ian Ross.
Julia Graham (Violoncello)
Having held positions with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the English Sinfonia and the orchestra of English National Opera, alongside her work with the Manor House String Quartet, Julia enjoys an active career as one of the busiest freelance cellists in London – regularly being invited to play with groups such as the Academy of St Martins in the Fields, the English Chamber Orchestra and the London Chamber Orchestra. Julia plays on an English Cello made in 1830 by luthier William Booth.
The disc was recorded in April 2011 at MBJ studios, with the help of engineer Ben Jones
Cover artwork and graphics for the disc are by Richard Bamsey
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