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Roger Hewetson - The Birth Of Christ British Product

The Birth Of Christ by Roger Hewetson

Cross Rhythms Rating: 8/10
CD: Album
Tags: Christmas, CD, Album, Independent, Choral, Top Rated
Normal Dispatch Time: 1-3 days
A cantata by Roger Hewetson retelling the story of Christmas.

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8/10

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

As a reviewer I generally enjoy the plethora of Christmas releases that come my way with the mixture of traditional favourites and new explorations of the greatest story ever told, often sung by top cathedral or Oxbridge choirs. While I am glad to applaud the technical excellence that many demonstrate I am sometimes left wondering how much it all means to the performers. And then something like Roger Hewetson's 'The Birth Of Christ' comes our way. Hewetson describes himself as "essentially a self-taught singer with a rudimentary knowledge of music" who "decided in my latter years to compose a simple Christmas cantata." On a warm afternoon in May 2017 the cast assembled to record the work in Thornden Hall in Hampshire. The composer's preference is for the work to be performed semi-staged with an organ accompaniment but for the recording he was able to utilise the Southampton Philharmonic Choir and The Highcliffe Junior Choir and Orchestra led by Brian Howells and conducted by David Gibson with a cast of, I assume, local amateur or semi-professional singers. This may sound a little "am dram" but please read on. The star of the show, so to speak, is having David Suchet as Narrator who is, of course, an excellent reader and also and more importantly able to mean every word he reads. I know nothing of the soloists. Mary is Isabelle Atkinson (soprano); Gabriel, Lynton Atkinson (tenor); and Joseph, James Atkinson (baritone). Soprano Joy Atkinson doubles as Elizabeth and Anna and, by now, we can see a trend. I assume that the Atkinsons are all one family which perhaps gives a hint as to the makeup of the company: local church or amateur operatic societies are often a family affair. While the performances (Mr Suchet excepted) do not match the professionalism of the great cathedral choirs it really does not matter. The atmosphere reminds me of my local community choir where we all take our turn, do our best and our audience understands that we do not always achieve what we hoped but the show goes on. Having said this, the cast here perform well and at no point did I find myself cringing. However, what really drives this cantata is the joy in both music and performances and surely joy should be at the heart of Christmas. Roger Hewetson may have come late to composition but he can write a good tune and if at places it sounds a little Gilbert and Sullivan, well, Sir Arthur wrote some good tunes too. The harmonies may not be sophisticated but are within the capabilities of the singers and it is a delight to hear the composer featured on stage as Hewetson is a bass-baritone who appears as a shepherd, a wise-man and Simeon although not all at the same time. I do not wish to sound patronizing or to offer faint praise as I genuinely enjoyed hearing the piece and would be happy to hear it again in the future or, should the music be made available to the public, to join a local production.

Style: Choral
Cross Rhythms Product Code: 167612
Product Format: CD
Content Type: Album
Cat. Code: Independent
Items: 1
Release Date: 2017

A cantata by Roger Hewetson retelling the story of Christmas.














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