Christmas with the Vienna Boys' Choir
The Christmas Movie - World Famous Christmas Songs
Johann Ritter von HERBECK (1831-1877)
Pueri Concinite [4.11]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Joy To The World (I) [0.59]
Joy To The World (II) [1.08]
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen [2.33]
The Little Drummer-boy 3.04]
O Du Fröhliche [1.46]
O Heiland Reiss Die Himmel Auf [1.39]
Es Hat Sich Halt Eröffnet [1.50]
Ihr Kinderlein Kommet [1.41]
Franz GRUBER (1787-1863)
Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht [3.45]
Vom Himmel Hoch [2.31]
Good King Wenceslas [1.12]
Deck The Halls [1.32]
Adeste Fideles [2.11]
Still, Still, Still [2.01]
rec. Augarten Castle, Vienna 1995
Picture Format: Colour 16:9.
Region Code: 0.
Sound format: 2.0 PCM Stereo
Subtitles: German and English
CAPRICCIO DVD C9004 [33:00] 

Look carefully at the title of this DVD before purchase and ensure you fully understand what you are buying. It is not a collection of the Vienna Boys Choir singing well-known Christmas Songs. Rather it is the reproduction, in 16:9 video aspect, of a 1995 film - or ‘movie’ if you want to use the Americanism. It shows the life of members of the choir in their home, Augarten castle. Yes, there is some singing of traditional Christmas songs, in both rehearsal and concert. However, despite the claim of 40 minutes duration, this DVD comes in at 33 minutes, with the actual singing of those songs being considerably less.
The above merely describes, in outline, what is actually on the DVD. It shows the boys in rehearsal (CHs. 8-9), dressed informally and in concert, complete in their sailor-style uniforms (CHs. 4,11). It gives insight into their daily life and the discipline involved in preparing for concerts. The rest is of interest in relating the experience of the boys in rehearsal, at meal times (CH.4), in the dormitory (CH.3) and particularly in the preparations they make in their castle home for Christmas. The setting up and preparation of a tree (CH.6) and the dressing and arrival of a benevolent figure with a sack of parcels are part of what we all think of as Christmas. These aspects are woven into the seasonal routine for the large number of boys who constitute the Vienna Boys Choir. As the booklet note there are four choirs with almost one hundred singers. Their repertoire extends widely beyond the basics of Schubert, Mozart and Haydn. The leaflet also notes that the reputation of the choir has drawn many of the world’s leading conductors onto the rostrum for their concerts.
As to the all too brief Christmas songs, the selection of Traditional and German works is to be expected. For the British, with their own Choral tradition and rigorous training in the cathedral choral schools, and those at Oxford and Cambridge, it is interesting to compare the sound made by each; different but not necessarily better. This is not a collection over which to nit-pick about enunciation. This is bound be different just as some excellent British choirs would render German a little more accented than a native speaker; the same is the case here. It is just pleasant to glory in the sound and think about their sacrifices of normal teenage life; sacrifices that make our enjoyment so special. The same can be said whether in respect of Vienna or Cambridge. Be thankful that the boys are prepared to forego so much family life and subject themselves to the strictest of musical disciplines. Long may these traditions continue.
This insight into the life of the boys of the Vienna Choir would have gained from more musical examples. Sparse timing overall.
Robert J Farr
This insight into the life of the boys of the Vienna Choir would have gained from more musical examples. Sparse timing overall!