18 November 2003

New Christmas Albums

Listening to Christmas albums at work...yeah, they probably think I'm nuts. I just got them yesterday and had to listen. (They're not sold here, but I got "such a deal": until November 30 shipping is free.)

These are the two newest (at least that I know) CDs in the Revels collection. Revels started in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a group that presented a medieval Christmas/Winter solstice celebration with the appropriate music. There are now at least ten Revels groups scattered across the country (none closer than Houston, alas), and they do different types of shows every year: this year, for instance, there are two Italian Renaissance-themed shows, a Victorian show, and the "main" performance in Cambridge is a Scottish-themed program.

I like the Revels stuff because I like different Christmas music, not the same endless parade of "White Christmas," "Rudolph," "Frosty," and the beautiful carols. When Oxford Books in Atlanta went out of business I got a bonanza of British/European cassettes, and just last year bought a CD of carols sung from the Brandenburg Gate, including carols in German and specific to that area. The Revels CDs have been devoted to early American songs, European carols, Russian and Scandinavian tunes, medieval music, and Victorian celebrations, and now these two newest ones are Celtic: "Christmas in an Irish Castle" from the California Revels and "A Celtic Feast of Song" from Revels North in New Hampshire. Both feature unusual songs and pennywhistles and harps, including the toe-tapping "Mairi's Wedding."

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