The Austin Chronicle

Record Reviews

Christmas Records

Reviewed by Margaret Moser, December 22, 2000, Music

Caroline Peyton

Celtic Christmas Spirit (Green Hill)

If it's true that "singing is a beautiful way of saying 'please listen,'" then all ears on Caroline Peyton. Her name's not as well-known as her lush voice, featured in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but it's eminently suited for this collection of Irish Christmas airs, ballads, chants, and carols. A few of these titles will be familiar to Celtic music fans -- "I Saw Three Ships A-Sailing" and "Coventry Carol" are probably the best-known titles -- but their familiarity hardly compares to the overkill of popular American Christmas music. Six of the 11 tracks are medleys, a traditional way of presenting Celtic music, so that tunes like "Balloo Lammy/I Saw Three Ships/Lough Swilly Lit/Lord of All Hopefulness" and "Benedictum Dominum Chant/Angelus Ad Virgenum" are wonderfully interwoven. The problem is that while Latin is vaguely familiar, Gaelic is unpronounceable for most people. To remedy that, English subtitles are provided, like "Don Oiche Ud I mBertil (That Night In Bethlehem)" and "Carul Loch Garman (Wexford Carol)." Good collections usually offer at least one song so moving, it captures not only the spirit of the season, but the heart as well. Here, it's "Taladh Chriosta (The Christ Child's Lullabye)," Peyton singing it with the aching clarity of a mother's love for her newborn child. A superb recording of divine orchestration without a single extraneous track, Celtic Christmas Spirit is as essential for lovers of the seasonal music as Noels Celtique and Loreena McKennitt.


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