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A Christmas Feast
Musical Delights for the Holidays


Arranger: Alyssa Reit
Performed by: Helen Campo (flute), Peter Reit (horn), Annabelle Hoffman (cello), Alyssa Reit (harp) and Krystof Witek (violin)
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 03 November 2023

A Christmas Feast, from Alyssa Reit, celebrates the rich tradition of Christmas carols across multiple cultures and centuries. The album features 20 instrumental chamber arrangements of carols performed on harp by Ms. Reit along with violin, flute, French horn, and cello. She includes familiar classics like 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel' and 'Ding Dong Merrily on High', as well as 17th-century English songs such as 'Blessed Be That Maid Marie' and 'I Saw Three Ships', the 'Appalachian carol', 'Star of The East', the 15th-century French 'Noel Nouvolet', and many more...

If I'm being perfectly honest, A Christmas Feast: Musical Delights for the Holidays was, on a first listen, a little too twee for my tastes. I have a huge collection of holiday music that I've collected over the years, and I thought that this album wasn't going to be one I'd be eager to play too often in the run up to Christmas to get me in the mood. It appeared to be an album that's was designed to play quietly in the background as ambient music.

If I had to describe it to someone... It sounds a little like the music to those '80s BBC Childrens' Christmas adaptations, like The Box of Delights and The Chronicles of Narnia. And that is no bad thing. This was especially the case on tracks like 'I Saw Three Ships' which has the harp and french horn centre stage.

The standout moment for me was easily Gustav Holsts' 'Lullay My Liking', which is almost worth buying the album for, alone.

It was only after repeat listens that I started to really warm to the album's charm. 'Angels and Shepherds' and 'Carol of the Russian Children' suddenly started to feel incredibly festive.

This is an acquired taste, but once you get into the swing of it you may find it difficult to celebrate Christmas without it.

Track listing:

01. Ding Dong Merrily on High (2:03)
02. Patapan Bernard de La Monnoye (2:06)
03. Lullay My Liking (3:12)
04. Angels and Shepherds (1:55)
05. Rise Up Shepherd and Follow (3:31)
06. Noel Provencal (2:06)
07. Still, Still, Still (2:33)
09. Carol of the Russian Children (2:57)
10. I Saw Three Ships (1:37)
11. Appalachian Carol (3:34)
12. What Child Is This? (2:21)
13. Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle (2:11)
14. Star of the East (4:39)
15. O Come, O Come Emmanuel (3:14)
16. Noel Nouvolet (3:37)
17. A Babe Is Born, All of a Maid (3:11)
18. Tecum Principium (4:26)
19. Blessed Be That Maid Marie (2:57)
20. People, Look East (2:07)


Darren Rea

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