SUPPLEMENT (DECEMBER, 2008)
few downloads of Christmas-related music arrived too late for
inclusion in the December Roundup and I didn’t want to leave
them till January.
First let me recommend a splendid bargain from Amazon,
who have recently extended their download facilities to the
UK. If you don’t already possess Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER’s Messe
de Minuit, Noëls sur les Instruments and In Nativitatem Domini Canticum on
Erato/Warner, it’s available from amazon.co.uk for a mere £2.79
in 256k mp3 sound. I
haven’t heard the download because I own the CD, but I have
made two other downloads from this site and am more than happy
with the mp3 sound – preferable to downloads from Warner’s own
site which can be burned only with Windows Media Player. Amazon downloads transfer themselves effortlessly
to iTunes if you have it installed. One word of caution, however – the original
CD is available in a 4-CD bundle with other Christie/Erato recordings
of Charpentier’s beautiful music on 2564 617582 at an unbelievably
low price (around £15-20 for the set).
If you like the Christmas music, you’ll almost certainly
want the rest and Amazon can help here, too: the other three
recordings are also available at £2.79.
Another very recommendable £2.79 download from
Amazon offers A Mediterranean
Christmas: Songs of celebration from Spain, Provence, Italy
& the Middle East, 1200-1900, performed by The Boston Camerata/Joel Cohen. I
need only refer you to Glyn Pursglove’s review of the parent
disc, which appeared a few short years ago at full price (2564-62560-2):
I agree with him entirely that this is a ‘life-enhancing CD.’
Short of having this in wma or another lossless format,
the 256k mp3 sound is very acceptable indeed. Both these Amazon downloads are strongly recommended
– but so are the parent CDs.
already recommended a Naxos album of Leroy
festive music in my main December Download review, but some
may prefer to have most of the Christmas music on that recording
spread over the two final volumes in Naxos’s Anderson series.
These are the same recommendable performances by the
BBC Concert Orchestra/Leonard
Slatkin as those on Sleigh Ride and other Holiday Favourites (8.559621 – the CD is available
only in North America but the download is widely available,
from classicsonline, eMusic, passionate, etc.).
Anderson: Orchestral Music 4 (8.559381) offers the Irish Suite, Scottish Suite and Alma Mater
and ends with the 9-minute Christmas
the highlight of this recording is Anderson’s beautiful arrangement
of McDowell’s To a Wild Rose, showing his mastery of
orchestration. I obtained
both volumes in 320k mp3 sound from classicsonline and found
them both very acceptable sonically.
In case you missed the news, classicsonline are now committed
to 320k and will make available 320k replacements in due course
to those who purchased earlier 192k versions. I’ve asked what the time-table for this is likely
to be, but haven’t yet received a reply.
(8.559382) couples music from the failed musical Goldilocks, some of it recorded for the first time ever, with the
11-minute woodwind Suite
of Carols. As performed here, with Kim Crisswell and William
Dazeley adding their vocal support to the BBC Concert Orchestra
and Leonard Slatkin, it’s hard to understand why Anderson failed
with Goldilocks where Bernstein succeeded in
crossing the classical/musical divide.
If you prefer Anderson’s Christmas music in smaller chunks,
these two recordings provide an equally enjoyable way to obtain
it. If you want the CDs, rather than the downloads,
and you don’t live in North America, you’ll have no choice.
Incidentally, for lovers of vintage recordings,
classicsonline have several Leroy Anderson albums from the 1950s
in their Naxos Historical Archive at £1.99.
Anderson himself conducts A
Christmas Festival (rather more briskly than Slatkin) and
other Christmas music on 9.80765 – only 45 minutes and a dull
cover, but who’s complaining at the price?
(Not available, I assume, in North America and other
parts of the world where copyright runs for more than 50 years.)
A Carus recording, Christmas in the Dresden Frauenkirche (83.170) also comes from classicsonline
in very acceptable 320k sound which does ample justice to the
fine recorded sound. (Or
21 tracks from eMusic at a lower bit-rate.)
All the music is by Gottfried
HOMILIUS, who may have been a Bach pupil.
It’s a very attractive programme, the second volume of
a series devoted to Homilius’ canatas, well performed by very
competent soloists with the Körnerscher Singverein and Dresdener Instrumental-concert under Peter Kopp. For further details, see Johan van Veen’s strong
There are several ways to obtain Corelli’s
Christmas Concerto, Op.6/8.
A Linn recording and download (linnrecords.com, CKD012)
offers it alongside the Pachelbel Canon and Fugue, Albinoni’s
Adagio (the spurious Giazotto arrangement) and Concerti Grossi
by Handel (Op.3/2) and Vivaldi (Op.3/11) in performances by
Musica da Camera/Robert
to those who don’t want the complete Corelli Op.6 (but who wouldn’t?)
or would like an alternative – it’s the kind of music which
lends itself to a variety of interpretations and the one presented
here is very attractive. (Very
good 320k mp3 or lossless versions.)
My final recommendation
takes us back to the medieval period with Christmas Music from Medieval Hungary performed by Anonymous 4. The adjective ‘sublime’ is rather over-worked
in reviews of this group, but it is wholly appropriate here. If you go for only one of these recordings,
try this one – 20 tracks from eMusic or £4.74 from iTunes in
their superior 256k ‘plus’ format.
(Or £4.89 from Amazon, also at 256k.)
It shares the dull and unimaginative covers of all Harmonia
Mundi’s Classical Express series but that’s my only complaint.