‘Once As I Remember’ is John Eliot Gardiner’s recreation of the story of Christmas based on the Springhead Christmas Play. A nativity play made up of music, speech, dance and mime took place almost every Christmas in the Millroom at Springhead, home of the Gardiner family in Fontmell Magna, Dorset. The actors were school-children, farmers, farmhands and local craftsmen and women and teachers, supplemented, as the years went on, by young professional singers from London who came to celebrate the period between Christmas and New Year in Dorset. The play was the brain-child of Marabel Gardiner, who directed the mime, and her husband Rolf, who gave the readings which punctuated the music and action. Their three children, of whom John Eliot Gardiner is the youngest, all took part in one capacity or another.
Taking as its source almost exclusively music performed at those Christmas family and friend gatherings, the selection is amplified with music that Gardiner feels would have been a perfect fit for the time. The range is eclectic, the performances exquisite, and Gardiner writes the extensive and affectionate note that accompanies this release.