Six of the Best CDs for Christmas

0 of 5 stars

Will Yeoman makes a personal choice of releases suitable for the Christmas Season

From Bach to Diana Krall via Pavarotti

Reviewed by: William Yeoman

Reviewed: December 2005
CD No: Please see text
Duration: Not listed

O magnum mysterium
Polyphony/Stephen Layton

You’d have to follow many a star to find a more beautiful collection of twentieth-century choral works than this “new re-issue” from the superb Polyphony directed by Stephen Layton. Interspersed by plainchant, the collection includes works by Howells, Leighton, Warlock and Walton. Impeccably sung.

On Christmas Day – New Carols from King’s
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury
EMI 5580702

This specially priced 2-CD set features both 20th and 21st-century choral music commissioned for the Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. Rutter, Sculthorpe, Pärt, MacMillan, Birtwistle, Adès – the list goes on. The singing is as gorgeous as the styles on offer are various. Surely an antidote to the ‘same old same old’ this Christmas?

A Bach Christmas
New London Consort/Philip Picket

Super-budget Bach from our Antipodean friends at Eloquence. Included are the Cantata “Christen, ätzet diesen Tag”, the Sanctus in D, and the Magnificat. Soloists include Catherine Bott, Paul Agnew and Michael George. How can you go wrong?

The Baroque Christmas Album
Various Artists

An embarrassment of riches? You bet! Bach, Charpentier, Gabrieli, Schütz, Corelli and Praetorius performed by the likes of John Eliot Gardiner, Paul McCreesh, Marc Minkowski, Trevor Pinnock, and their bands. I need say no more.

O Holy Night
Luciano Pavarotti, with various orchestras, choirs and conductors
DECCA 475 6896

This new compilation of ‘Pav’ at his Christmas best. Franck’s “Panis angelicus”, a multiplicity of Ave Marias, the Cuius animam from Rossini, the Agnus Dei and Sanctus from Berlioz – they’re all here with everyone’s favourite larger-than-life tenor. Includes three bonus tracks!

Christmas Songs
Diana Krall (vocals & piano)/Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
VERVE 988 2121

Want something a little jazzier this Christmas? Then let Canadian jazz vocalist Diana Krall warm up your winter with some smooth renditions of standards like “Jingle Bells”, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “White Christmas”. I’m not normally a fan of either Krall or her crooning male counterparts, but this new disc really is hard to resist. Great cover, too.

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