02 December 2009

Christmas Music 12-2-2009

This time from the CD collection:

• "Holiday Pops" with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops.
One of my very favorites! Contains "Tomorrow is My Dancing Day" which makes me want to dance! Also a toe-tappin' swing version of "Good King Wenceslas," the classic "Christmastime is Here" from A Charlie Brown Christmas, and one of my recent favorites, the triumphant "Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas!" from Home Alone 2 which brings in Christmas with ringing voices. "Yes!"

• "Narada: The Christmas Collection" (various)
Contains one of my all-time favorite arrangements of "Joy to the World," done by Bruce Mitchell and a lilting version of "I Saw Three Ships" by David Arkenstone. Nice quiet New Age arrangements of traditional carols—chill-out music.

• "A Traditional Christmas" (various artists)
A more traditional album, with well-known singers. Stirring version of "O Holy Night" by Bing Crosby; what lovely pipes the man had. Andy Williams' "A Song and a Christmas Tree" (a takeoff of "12 Days of Christmas") is a favorite. Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, Al Martino, and more...and of course the incomparable Nat "King" Cole singing "The Christmas Song." Would it be Christmas without it?

• "Piano Winterlude" (David Huntsinger)
I found Huntsinger's "Autumn in New England" many years ago and fell in love with it, then much later got his "New England by Piano," but didn't know about this one, which once upon a time was for sale at Michaels with other instrumentals and I didn't buy it, until a few years ago. Hunted up a copy posthaste...don't regret the search. Huntsinger's style is closer to Tim Janis than to George Winston, but more subtle.

• "A Victorian Christmas Revels" (the Revels)
The Revels organization started out doing recreations of medieval Christmas revels in the Cambridge, MA, area. Now there are different Revels groups across the US and they also have springtime, summer, and other shows, but the most famous of these is still their Christmas Revels, which, each year, highlight a different culture or time period, with period music and costume. This outing recreates Victorian England, with traditional carols as well as a visit to the great Victorian equalizer, the music hall, where such ditties as "Down at the Old Bull and Buch" and the humorous "Don't Have Any More, Mrs. Moore" add to the entertainment of the day. Much fun.

• "Simple Gifts: A Windham Hill Collection" (various)
More New Age, perfect for a rainy day such as today. Lovely melancholic pieces like "New Trees at Knockaun" and "Snow Shadows," plus more traditional fare like "Adeste Fideles" and "O Holy Night." George Winston does "Greensleeves," there's the lilting "In Bethlehem City," and it finishes up with an instrumental version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas's "Welcome Christmas."

• "James Galway's Christmas Carol" (James Galway, of course, and chorus)
Flute music with chorale accompaniment as sweet as Christmas candy and less fattening. This is one of those albums that just says (sings?) "Christmas" to me: the delightful lilt of "Shepherd's Pipe Carol," "Fantasia on 'I Saw Three Ships'" which makes me want to do an Irish jig, the lyrical "Past Three O'Clock," and the achingly beautifully sweet "Sheep May Safely Graze"—and twelve more lovely pieces. Should be in everyone's Christmas library.

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