A New Joy: Orthodox Christmas
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Paul Hillier – conductor (Harmonia Mundi)
Paul Hillier conducts the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir with great panache in “A New Joy,” finding a great deal of joy and warmth in 16 Russian and Ukrainian carols, songs and hymns. Buoyant pieces such as Alexander Kastalsky’s “Verses before the Six Psalms No. 2” and Arvo Part’s “Rejoice, O Virgin” alternate with more somber pieces like Vasyl Barvinskyi’s “Oh, What a Wonder!” and Kastalsky’s “Today the Virgin Gives Birth.” The only truly familiar song is “A Song of Good Cheer” by Mykola Leontovich, better known as “The Ukrainian Bell Carol.” The singing Estonians, with their ethereally beautiful blend and uncannily precise ensemble, are a delight throughout.