A solid effort

This is a follow-up piece to the review of the Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir DVD featuring Sissel that I published here just the other day.  In that review I wondered aloud whether this year’s Christmas concert with The King’s Singers would match the transcendent heights of last year’s event.  I was able to sample a few of the musical numbers by watching Music and the Spoken Word today.  More on that in a moment.

In case any of you missed the Spoken Word broadcast and have a broadband Internet connection, you can see it by going to http://www.byu.tv.  That’s the official website for BYU-TV, the university’s cable channel (also available with Comcast’s Digital Cable program, DIRECTV, and Dish Network).  The terrific thing about the website is that it not only provides live streaming video of whatever is playing on the station at the moment, but it also maintains a 30-day archive of everything it has aired, which you can view at anytime.  It’s like owning a free DVR, and it’s wonderful for folks like us who don’t have cable (who needs it anyway, when you can watch everything you want to these days on the Internet?) or don’t want to bother with recording shows to watch later.

To watch this edition of Music and the Spoken Word, go to www.byu.tv and allow your browser to download the media plug-in from Move Networks, the streaming video provider.  (You may need to restart your browser.)  Then select “Sunday, December 16, 2007” from the “Choose a date” field and select “Music and the Spoken Word” in the 9:30am (all times MST) slot to begin watching.  The video quality will improve or diminish depending on how much bandwidth is available in your Internet connection, and tops out at about 568 kbps.

As for the program itself, I thought it was a pretty solid effort.  There’s another processional to start things off (entitled “Rejoice and Be Merry”) which was pretty good.  The King’s Singers themselves are quite sensational, practically an orchestra unto themselves.  They perform that Christmas carol which seems tailor-made for barbershop quartets, “Little Drummer Boy,” and though it seems a little ho-hum at the beginning, in time I became amazed at the depth and wondrous musicality they invested into the piece.

The best number by far was a tandem effort with the men of the Choir on “O Holy Night,” a song I previously thought impossible for men to sing (heck, most women can’t clear it either).  I was blown away.  This song is the finest showcase of the male voice I have ever heard.  The Deseret Morning News reports that in Thursday night’s performance of “O Holy Night,” “the piece was performed with power and emotion that had the audience clapping before the music finished.”  Hearing it now, I believe it.

The program finishes with “Angels From the Realms of Glory,” and though the Singers do a fine job with it, that number really is designed for a soprano voice.  Compared with Renee Fleming’s and Sissel’s performances in years past, this one comes off a little underwhelming.  Sorry, gents.

My final verdict?  I liked it, though I’m not as ecstatic about it as I was with Sissel’s appearance last year.  It’s worth seeing, especially if you’re sick and tired of “Santa Baby” and “Jingle Bell Rock” or whatever pop-star-schlock carols are being passed off as “Christmas music” on radio stations these days.  That stuff is permanently banned in our house.  This is the real deal.

(But last year’s Christmas concert is the best deal.  Wink, wink.)

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