Christmas medley (Peaceful)
This collection of four Christmas carols is mainly calm, reflective and peaceful. The piano ostinato that underpins “The holly & the ivy” suggests tinkling bells, joined by more resonant church bell sounds later. There are some unexpected changes of meter, which can wrong-foot the listener, but which give more space for the lyrics to land.
“Joy to the world” continues the theme of peals of bells, building to a rich climax (this should be as loud as can be achieved without sacrificing beauty of tone). Staggered breathing is the key to “What child is this?”, as the lower three parts have some long, sweeping phrases that really benefit from sounding unbroken.
The shift into “In the bleak midwinter” returns to an ostinato accompaniment, interrupted by a brief flurry of snowflakes, before the whole piece dissolves with a final echo of “The holly & the ivy”.