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      December 12, 2012

      The Best Christmas Recordings of 2012


      Nine Lessons & Carols

      Choir of King’s College, Cambridge / Stephen Cleobury

      King’s College

      With a TV and radio audience of millions, the annual broadcast from King’s College, Cambridge, is an essential Christmas tradition for families all over the world. This double album faithfully recreates the magic of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. Each year, the Choir’s Director of Music Stephen Cleobury commissions a new carol, several of which are included on the album.


      Bach: Cantatas for Christmas

      Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists / Sir John Eliot Gardiner

      Soli Deo Gloria SDG-178

      This boxed set is a collection of cantatas for the entire Christmas season from the award-winning series of recordings made during the 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage. It features a cast of stellar soloists including Magdalena Kožená, Bernarda Fink, Michael Chance, James Gilchrist, Christoph Genz, etc. The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists give their customary brilliant performances.


      Jubilate: Music for Brass & Choir

      Music of the Baroque / William Jon Gray

      MOB Recording

      In this program, Music of the Baroque Chorus Director William Jon Gray focuses on the key events of the Christmas narrative. Beginning with music for Advent, the story of Christ’s birth comes to life in works from a rich variety of traditions and styles. Renaissance music for brass adds sparkling decoration throughout.


      Christmas with Los Romeros

      Los Romeros; Concerto Málaga / Massimo Paris

      Deutsche Grammophon 477 9365

      For 50 years, Los Romeros have proven to be “The Royal Family of the Guitar.” Through three generations, they have led a renaissance in the classical guitar on the concert stage as well as in recordings. Their new Christmas CD features arrangements of holiday favorites from four centuries, including the recent Christmas Suite by conductor/composer Massimo Paris.


      Sacrum Mysterium: A Celtic Christmas Vespers

      Apollo’s Fire; Meredith Hall, soprano; Ensemble La Nef / Jeannette Sorrell

      Avie AV-2269 (CD & DVD)

      The ancient Celts celebrated the Winter Solstice and the coming of light and hope. Echoes of their rituals still resounded in the 13th century, when faithful Scots sang the Vespers of St Kentigern, Patron Saint of Glasgow. This colorful program of Celtic artistic traditions interweaves selections from the medieval Scottish Vespers with ancient carols, fiddle tunes and Irish dances.


      Christmas Songs Around The World

      Arsys Bourgogne / Pierre Cao

      Naïve V-5319

      The magic of Christmas is presented in French, English, German, Italian, Spanish and Latin by a leading choir from France. Using a flexible formation, ranging up to 32 singers, Arsys Bourgogne explores all choral repertoire, from early music, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, through Romantic and 20th century music to that of the present day.


      Neapolitan Christmas II

      Kölner Akademie / Michael Alexander Willens

      CPO 777 734-2

      During the first half of the 18th century, Francesco Durante was regarded as one of the most influential composers of church music in Naples. Christmas music in the form of cantatas had been a Neapolitan tradition since the 17th century. Durante continued and expanded this tradition with a number of works in a pastoral style, evoking the shepherds in the fields and at the manger.


      Horns for the Holidays

      Dallas Wind Symphony / Jerry Junkin

      Reference Recordings RR-126

      The Dallas Wind Symphony has a huge following worldwide, and this is their first recording of holiday music. The sonic spectacular features the huge Fisk pipe organ at Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, played by Mary Preston. A treat for wind band enthusiasts, audiophiles, and anyone who loves great holiday music!


      Handel: Messiah

      Soloists; Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra & Chamber Choir / Ivars Taurins

      Tafelmusik Media TMK-1016 (2 CDs)

      Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir present an intimate and stirring performance of Handel’s masterpiece. This recording of the full score on period instruments features a stellar cast of soloists – Karina Gauvin, Robin Blaze, Rufus Müller and Brett Polegato. Tafelmusik recreates the spirit and vitality of Handel’s own 18th-century productions.


      A Winter’s Light: A Christmas Collection

      Vasari Singers / Jeremy Backhouse

      Naxos 8.573030

      The Vasari Singers’ annual carol concerts always provide a warming blend of traditional favorites and less well-known music from all periods and styles. Here, 16th-century polyphony sits alongside popular Victorian carols and contemporary settings, and no Vasari Christmas would be complete without some close-harmony Swingle singing.


      Advent at Ephesus

      Benedictine Nuns of Mary, Queen of Apostles

      Decca B0017837-02

      The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles is a monastic community located in rural Missouri. Working on their farm and mostly living off the land, the sisters sing together eight times a day as part of their daily schedule. “Advent at Ephesus” features traditional English and Latin hymns, polyphony, Gregorian chants, medieval harmonies, and one original work from the sisters themselves.


      Christmas with the Vienna Boys’ Choir

      Vienna Boys’ Choir; Chorus Viennensis; Academy of London / Peter Marschik

      Capriccio C-5160 (2 CDs)

      Even after 500 years, the Vienna Boys’ Choir is still very much a living tradition. Today, the group consists of four choirs with almost 100 singers, who receive extensive training over a wide-ranging repertoire. The young voices come to together for a celebration of the season, performing a selection of famous carols and highlights from Handel’s Messiah.

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