". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Christmas Music

It's still Christmas! So I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite Christmas music CD's. They are listed here in no particular order, just as they came to mind.

1. Gene Autry, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - I grew up listening to this record every Christmas. In my opinion, Autry's "Rudolph" is still the definitive version. The rest of the CD is classic as well. I'm not sure whatever happened to my parents' copy of this album, but now that it has been remastered and is available on CD I plan to add it to my library again!

2. The Andy Williams Chrismas Album - I think Andy Williams has one of the best male voices around. This one, too, always got played in our house at Christmastime. "Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells" is especially fun listening. As with the Autry album, I had thought this was no longer available, but I see demand has brought it back on CD. This one's going on my wishlist as well!

3. A Charlie Brown Christmas - Enough said. Christmas is just not complete in our house without it.

4. Barbra Streisand, A Christmas Album - I know--it's a little strange to hear Streisand, who is Jewish, singing Christmas music. Her "Ave Maria" is surreal. But I have always loved her voice, and her versions of ballads such as "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "The Christmas Song" and "White Christmas" are, as they say, like "butter."

5. Acoustic Christmas - The one and only reason for buying this CD is Harry Connick's instrumental piano-only version of "Winter Wonderland." It is not to be missed and is worth the price of the CD, even if you like nothing else on it. He makes the piano sound like 4 or 5 instruments rather than one. Truly phenomenal.

6. James Taylor, A Christmas Album - Classic JT. This is his 2004 Christmas release (he did another Christmas album in 2006). Includes an instant classic in the duet "Baby, It's Cold Outside," sung with Natalie Cole, and gorgeous, reflective versions of "In the Bleak Midwinter" and "Some Children See Him."

7. An American Christmas, the Boston Camerata - Over an hour's worth of music, including both Advent and Christmas selections (here's the full listing of selections). A variety of styles in the American tradition, authentically performed.

8. Take 6, He is Christmas - Classic Take 6 a capella vocal stylings. I especially like the title track--kind of says it all.

9. In Bleak Midwinter: Soft Sounds of Christmas - A compilation of various artists/choirs performing quiet and peaceful Advent & Christmas classics. The title makes it sound like a soft pop collection, but it's not that at all. Instead it's a collection of gems such as "In Dulci Jubilo," "The Wexford Carol," "Cradle Song," "The Holly and the Ivy," and Mozart's "Ave Verum."

10. John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers - This one or this one or this one. Take your pick. They're all replete with gorgeous choral arrangements of classic Christmas carols.

11. A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, Kings College - As my regular readers know, I am a huge fan of the Lessons and Carols service broadcast live every Christmas Eve from Kings College Chapel in Cambridge. The recording listed here is currently unavailable. There are other recordings of this service available, and I would recommend any of them, but this is the one I would choose if I could because it was recorded during David Willcocks' tenure as director, and his arrangements and descants are in my opinion still the definitive ones.

So there you go. I could list others, but am making myself stop here. I'd love to hear what some of your favorites are! If you want, please share them in the comments section.

Happy 8th day of Christmas!


atara said...

The new "Winter Symphony" by Sarah Brightman came out this year. It's AWESOME!

Big Doofus said...

We had the Gene Autry record on vinyl when I was a kid (like there was anything other than vinyl or 8-track when I was little). It's still one of my favorites. I don't know whatever happened to my parents copy, but I should pick up a copy of the CD or, even better, download the MP3s from Amazon.

I loved your list. "In the Bleak Midwinter" is one of my favorite songs and I have a few copies with different artists singing it.

Merry Christmas.