The Choral Stream‘s Brian Newhouse took a pre-release listen to Eric Holtan and True Concord Voices & Orchestra’s Christmas With True Concord: Carols in the American Voice:
“They sure named the choir right. If you’ve never heard of them, and you celebrate Christmas, treat yourself. “Christmas with True Concord: Carols in the American Voice” spotlights an ensemble with a remarkable blend across all its voices. True concord indeed.
Hold-your-breath moments? Several. The luminous solo soprano of Cait Frizzell. The touching accompaniment of organ, harp, and oboe in several tracks, but especially guitarist Steven Lerman in Jeffrey Van’s “Fourteen Angels.” Mack Wilberg’s disarmingly simple arrangements of “Away in a Manger,” and “Wexford Carol.” The emotional centerpiece of the CD is “Silent Night.” Yes, a chestnut, but the late Stephen Paulus set it with such heartbreaking tenderness. For Paulus fans it is a bittersweet reminder of what we lost with his early passing.
Most of the 17 tracks are world-premiere recordings, a mix of melodies you’ll recognize in new arrangements, and a handful of newer pieces – all lovingly done. Credit conductor Eric Holtan for crafting the sound of this choir. And I want to single out his phrasing: how he unifies dozens of singers so that they shape the arc of a musical line as one voice in the most compelling way possible – bar after bar after bar. Put this CD on while wrapping presents, or clamp good headphones on and revel in holiday choral singing about as exquisite as you could imagine. Sung by that choir with the perfect name.”—Brian Newhouse, The Choral Stream