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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) A Bach Christmas rec. 1983-2003 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94103 [10 CDs: 549:14] [JV]

If you want a Christmas with Bach you had better look for something else.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) Two Psalms: 86; 148; Nunc Dimittis; I love my love ; The Coming of Christ Robert Hardy.(narrator) Chamber Choir of St Paul’s Girls’ School/Heidi Pegler City of London Choir; Holst Orchestra/Hilary Davan Wetton rec. 2011. world premiere recording EM RECORDS CD004 [58:54] [RB]

This is a strong and indispensable entry in the English music revival.

see also review by John Quinn
A dedicated recording of a great Holst rarity, which is very well worth hearing

Jan Jacub RYBA (1765-1815) Czech Christmas Mass, Song of Praise for the Festival of the Birth of Christ Jan Václav Antonín STAMITZ (1717-1757) Sinfonia pastorale Václav PICHL (1741-1805) Sinfonia pastorlis Anna Hlavenková (soprano); Sylva Čmugrová (alto); Jan Ondrejka (tenor); Roman Janál (bass); Pavel Černý (organ/harpsichord); Czech Boy’s Choir Boni Pueri/Pavel Horák; Czech Chamber PO Pardubice/Marek Štryncl rec. 2011. DDD ARCODIVA UP 0142-2131 [72.12] [GH]

Charming. It’s all quite seasonal in its happy disposition.

Another Night Before Christmas and Scrooge Simon Callow (narrator) RTÉ Concert Orch/Royal Ballet Sinf/Gavin Sutherland rec. 2008-2011 NAXOS 8.572744 [79:20] [Byz]

A good stocking-filler or cockle-warmer.

see also review by John Sheppard
An undemanding, unhackneyed and unexciting collection of Christmas orchestral music.

The Colours of Christmas JOHN RUTTER Full contents list at end of review The Bach Choir, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, John Birch (organ), Over the Bridge, onductor John Rutter rec. 2011 DECCA 2782129 [73:27] [NB]

Very good and enjoyable.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH On Christmas Night Ch St John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha rec. 2011 CHANDOS CHSA5096 [74:22] [JQ]

This excellent and most enjoyable disc will be a high quality Christmas present for a musical friend - or to give to yourself!

see also review by Michael Cookson
If I wanted a single disc of Christmas-themed music in my collection I would be happy with this release.

Christmas Goes Baroque A Musical Tour of Switzerland, Germany & Belgium Slovak State Phil/Peter Breiner rec. 1989 NAXOS 2.110546 [54:28] [Byz]

Inoffensive family-friendly viewing, more than can be said of most Christmas TV nowadays. 

see also review by Robert Farr
Plenty of interesting content, well photographed, complements the musical arrangements of popular Christmas tunes.

Epiphany at St Paul’s St Paul’s Cathedral Ch/John Scott, Huw Williams (organ) rec. 2001 HYPERION HELIOS CDH55443 [72:13] [JS]

A musically and emotionally satisfying seasonal feast. 

The Golden Age of Light Music Christmas Celebration rec. 1958/9 GUILD GLCD5185 [77:57] [JW]

This early Festive offering offers plenty of good cheer and it’s never too early to slip something nice into your stocking.

Libera – The Christmas Album Joy to the World; Still, still, still; Carol of the Bells; Veni, veni Emmanuel; Once in Royal David’s City; O Holy Night; White Christmas; Corpus Christi Carol; In Dulci Jubilo; Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas; Sing the Story; Coventry Carol; The First Nowell; Jubilate Deo; While Shepherds Watched their Flocks; Lullabye Libera/Robert Prizeman rec. 2011. stereo/DDD EMI CLASSICS 50999 0 88635 2 2 [61:19] [EML]

If you like your Christmas complete with fairies, glitter, inflatable snowmen and gold-leafed angels, this is the disc for you.

Plum Pudding Christmas songs and readings Felicity Lott (soprano) Gabriel Woolf (reader) Joyful Company of Singers/Peter Broadbent rec. 2002 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD 013 [77:44] [Byz]

Best consumed at Christmas, but as festive CDs go, it is certainly one of the most appetising.

Sleep, Holy Babe - A Collection of Christmas Lullabies Blossom Street/Hilary Campbell rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572868 [57:07] [JQ]

An enjoyable and enterprising collection, offering some welcome new listening for the Christmas season.

Snowflakes A Classical Christmas Øystein Baadsvik (tuba) Cantus Women’s Ch, Trondheim SO/Torodd Wigum rec. 2011 BIS-CD-1885 [65:00] [RB]

Toffee apple sweetness including one or two real seasonal jolts.

Christmas The King’s Singers SIGNUM SIGDVD008 [53:09] [ST]

A good selection, but I’m not convinced that it works as a DVD.

Joy to the World The King’s Singers rec. 2010 SIGNUM SIGCD268 [58.39] [RB]

An eminently enjoyable release that will please fans of The King’s Singers and lovers of Christmas music alike.

Michael PRAETORIUS (1571-1621) Christmas Music Westminster Cathedral Ch, The Parley of Instruments/David Hill rec. 1986 HYPERION HELIOS CDH55446 [49:13] [JV]

From every point of view this is an intriguing and captivating disc.

 

And some from earlier years

Celebration - Christmas Fanfares and Carols Aled Jones (readings), BBC Welsh Chorus, John Hugh Thomas, Huw Tregelles Williams (organ), Fanfare Trumpeters of the Welsh Guards, Lt. Col. P. Hannam, BEM, musical director rec. 3-4 February and 1 July 1991, Brangwyn Hall, Swansea. DDD
NIMBUS NI 5310 [73:34]
[BBr]

A lovely collection

Christmas Chant: Traditional Latin Plainchant for Christmas The Monks of Prinknash Abbey; The Nuns of Stanbrook Abbey rec. 1987. DDD. Texts and translations included. SAYDISC CD-SDL 369 [62:48] [BW]

Ideal for those seeking peace and simplicity at Christmas

Christmas from Lichfield Robert Sharpe (organ); The Choir of Lichfield Cathedral/Andrew Lumsden rec. Lichfield Cathedral, 12-15 February 1996. DDD.Texts included. NIMBUS NI5496 [69:57] [BW]

This may be the collection you’re looking for

Christmas Organ Music Kevin Bowyer (organ) rec. Chichester Cathedral, 16-17 August 1995. DDD. NIMBUS NI7711 [71:45] [BW]

A most attractive recording

Fear and Rejoice, O People: Music for Advent and Christmas The Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge/Christopher Robinson Iain Farrington (organ) rec. 14–15 July 1998, Chapel of St. John's College, Cambridge NIMBUS NI 5589 [66:42] [BBr]

Absolutely delightful

Make We Joy - Music for Christmas by Gustav HOLST (1874 - 1934) and William WALTON (1902 - 1983) Christ Church Cathedral Choir Oxford/Stephen Darlington Simon Lawford (organ) rec. Merton College Chapel Oxford, 11- 12 May 1987 NIMBUS NI7021 [49:41]  [NB]

If you are looking for a choral disc of Christmas music without resorting to the usual “lessons & carols” format you will be hard pressed to do better than this.

Prima Voce Party NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 7839 [71:21]

A magnificent, fascinating, compilation.

Nativitas - American Christmas Carols James Higdon (organ); Pamela Williamson (soprano solo); Lyra Pringle Pherigo (flute); Wesley Kelly (harp); Kansas City Chorale/Charles Bruffy NIMBUS NI5413 [67:03] [NB]

As beautiful a disc of precious Christmas music as you are likely to hear this or any year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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