Traditional: Ding Dong Merrily on High (2:24); Dominus Dixit (2:40); Angels We Have Heard on High (3:49)
Boys of St Paul’s Choir School / John Robinson
Since 1963, Saint Paul’s Choir School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has formed and educated boys in grades four through eight in the rich music tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. Their new album features 19 classic Christmas songs of both traditional and contemporary arrangements, including original versions by Director of Music John Robinson.
Vivaldi: Guitar Concerto in D major, R 93 (11:40)
Sharon Isbin, guitar; Zurich Chamber Orchestra / Howard Griffiths
Acclaimed for her lyricism and virtuosic technique, Sharon Isbin is widely acknowledged to be one of today’s finest guitarists. This collection is a showcase for her extraordinary versatility, bringing together cornerstones of the guitar concerto repertoire by Rodrigo and Villa-Lobos, arrangements of Baroque favorites, concertos by Christopher Rouse and Tan Dun that were written for Isbin herself, and two recital discs including the Grammy Award-winning ‘Dreams of a World.’
New Release of the Week
Britten: A boy was born (2:36)
Mathias: A babe is born (3:09)
Traditional: Gabriel’s Message (2:20)
Mendelssohn: Frohlocket ihr Völker auf Erden (1:21)
Choir of Clare College, Cambridge; Dmitri Ensemble / Graham Ross
Under the direction of Graham Ross, the Choir of Clare College and the Dmitri Ensemble celebrate the legacy of European and English carols in this Christmas program of settings by Praetorius and Bach heard alongside later examples by Mendelssohn, Schoenberg, Britten and Tavener.
Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker: Act 1 (43:36)
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra / Neeme Järvi
Chandos issues the concluding recording in Neeme Järvi’s series with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra devoted to Tchaikovsky’s three great ballets. This complete, uncut version of The Nutcracker follows The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, both of which have been much awarded
Anonymous: Alma redemptoris mater (2:21); There is no rose of swych vertu (5:21); Nova, nova! (1:59)
Schola Antiqua of Chicago / Michael Alan Anderson
This collection of early music for the Advent season provides a glimpse into the days of anticipation and hope leading up to Christmas during the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Pierre de La Rue spent his professional life serving some of the most influential rulers of that time, and the glorious polyphony of his Missa Conceptio tua celebrates the Immaculate Conception in a manner appropriate to the extravagant liturgy of the Habsburg-Burgundian court. The seven O Antiphons focus on the theme of Jesus’s imminent arrival, while the concluding English carols centre on the Virgin Mary’s birth of the Christ child.
Handel: Messiah: For unto us a child is born (3:52); Pastoral Symphony (2:38)
Handel and Haydn Society / Harry Christophers
Handel’s ever-popular Messiah was recorded live in the superb acoustic of Boston’s Symphony Hall, to mark the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Handel and Haydn Society, America’s longest-standing performing arts organization. Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742 and the Handel and Haydn Society gave the first complete performance of the work in the U.S. in 1818.
Traditional: Noël Lorrain (3:33); Noël de Cluny (2:39)
Suzie LeBlanc, vocals; Ensemble
Suzie LeBlanc returns to her roots with ‘La Veillée de Noël,’ a recording of traditional songs from a collection published in Paris in the late 1890s. “My cousin, from Memramcook, New Brunswick, rescued an old book of songs that contains some beautiful, lesser-known Christmas carols which immediately appealed to me,” says LeBlanc. She is accompanied by long-time collaborators violinist David Greenberg, percussionist Nick Halley, and harpsichordist Alexander Weimann.
Anderson: Sleigh Ride (5:17)
Renée Fleming, vocals; Wynton Marsalis, trumpet; Ensemble
Renée Fleming releases her first-ever holiday album. While known mostly as an opera singer, Fleming’s career has encompassed numerous genres and styles of singing. For ‘Christmas in New York,’ she sings in a more intimate style. The album features guest artists Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti, Brad Mehldau, Kelli O’Hara and others.
Vandini: Cello Concerto in D major (9:23)
Jan Vogler, cello; La Folia Baroque Orchestra / Robin Peter Müller
Anyone exploring the way in which the cello broke free from its origins as a continuo instrument and evolved as a solo instrument at the start of the 18th century will soon come upon Antonio Vivaldi and his pioneering works. Jan Vogler tells the story of this journey with a collection of concertos by Vivaldi and other Venetian composers, including the world premiere recording of a work by Antonio Vandini.
Vivaldi: Magnificat in G minor, R 610 (14:55)
La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Le Concert des Nations / Jordi Savall
Bach and Vivaldi’s Magnificats illustrate the splendor of the orchestra Le Concert des Nations and choir of La Capella Reial de Catalunya. Jordi Savall offers a vivid and striking performance of these two masterpieces, recorded live at the Royal Chapel in Versailles in 2013. Each of them is introduced by a concerto by the same composer in the same tonality.