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Our best-selling recording of all time - more than 20,000 copies sold! Re-released just in time for Christmas, The Bells of Christmas will fill your home with the joyful and sparkling sound of handbells, played by the dynamic ensemble, Gloriæ Dei Ringers. Playing on a five-and-a-half octave set of Malmark handbells, these young musicians explore the full range of Christmas cheer and wonder - from the tenderness of Away in a Manger to the majestic expanse of A Flight of Angels - all in arrangements that showcase the tremendous musicality and unique spirit of handbells!
"These virtuosi of metal and mallet positively palpitate with imagination and their arrangements are the ne plus ultra of shimmering, quivering pulsating pulchritude. the arrangement by Frances Legge Callahan summoning up twangy sonorities and pedal notes, a delicious range of colors including plucking and martellato effects. There are eleven players in this plucky Massachusetts group directed by Richard K Pugsley... they use 79 Malmark handbells (of 6 1/2 octaves). Twas Christmas Eve receives a rather suggestive reading that ends in Renaissance dignity whilst the witty coloration of The Twelve Days of Christmas is full of pitch extremes and glittering sonorities, like stars exploding. Away in a Manger is saturated in impressionistic ostinato; if you think handbells are inflexible creatures listen to the dynamic variance cultivated by these patrician East Coast ringers. They wouldn't rouse a butterfly's eyelids with the spectral quiescence of their Malmarks. A Flight of Angels is rhythmically novel; the sound of mallet on bell is distinctive as elsewhere the piping of shepherds in Shepherds, Watching is conveyed trough simplicity and delicacy. Altogether their ensemble is metaltight, the sonorities they conjure full of lithe and pleasurable novelty."
Jonathan Woolf Musicweb-international.com April 2003
"The Gloriae Dei Ringers perform with a set of 79 bells covering 6 1/2 octaves. They are based in Massachusetts, but have toured in both eastern and western Europe, including Russia. This disc consists of arrangements of familiar Christmas carols as well as some original compositions for hand-bell choir by composers such as Donald Allured, Dale Jergenson, and Judy Hunnicutt. The performances are virtuosic, considering the teamwork essential to coherent ensemble in this medium. The program displays the wide variety of sounds that can be obtained from the bells through such techniques as plucking, martellato playing, and striking with mallets."
William Gatens American Record Guide
"From the Red Kettle Santas to the midnight call from the steeple, bells are a part of Christmas. This recording of Gloriae Dei's 11 musicians with their six-and-a-half-octave handbells goes beyond the usual arrangements of carols to transcriptions weaving dissonances and descants, the very highest and lowest tones, even the use of mallets on the bells to produce an intriguing and beautiful concert. In Twas Christmas Eve, Paul McKlveen pairs Let All Mortal Flesh with God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen. A Flight of Angels is Dale Jergenson's composition specifically for the bells, as is Donald Allured's Bellfest."
Patricia Nakamura The Living Church November 14, 2004