Thursday, September 6, 2007

Holly and Ivy

Every year I look for a CD of Christmas music that will become the Christmas CD that year. Actually, I generally allow two such CDs per year. Since I listen to "Christmas music" all year (primarily of the hymn sort: "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and so forth), I get a much wider window of opportunity to find that CD.

Over the last couple years, the title "Christmas CD of the year" has been bestowed upon several worthy albums, including:

  • Wintersong by Sarah McLachlan

  • Happy Holidays by Jo Stafford

  • Christmas with the Academy by The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Field

  • Noel by King's College Choir

  • In the Moon of Winter by Northern Variations

  • December by the Moody Blues

So my tastes range somewhat. I like tacky Christmas music in December, but I really prefer more classic sounding stuff.

Well, last night I found one of the CDs for this year: A Traditional Christmas Carol Collection from The Sixteen, by Harry Christopers and The Sixteen. I've had trouble finding it at places like Amazon, so I just bought it from iTunes.

Now this will sound a little bold, but I put this CD slightly above Noel and Christmas with the Academy. The repertoire is very similar, and performance is about equal. But the difference is recording quality. Where the other two albums consist of tracks recorded as much as 40 years ago, this CD is all new. That is, the sound is much more three-dimensional; the high notes soar, the low ones surround.

I was honestly shivering at the beauty of the sound.

What songs does it have? There are the standby carols: "The Holly and the Ivy," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," etc. But there are the better ones that make a CD worth purchasing: "See Amid the Winter's Snow" and "The Sussex Carol."

That's one task off the Ber Month checklist.

Note: After posting the above, I found the CD at Amazon: A Traditional Christmas Carol Collection. Why couldn't I find it last night?


Gwen said...

That's high praise indeed. I'm going right to iTunes to find it!

Last year Mom bought me the Sarah McLachlan one, and I just can't get enough of it. It's wonderful.

Shan said...

I'm going to give you a suggestion for your second album.

"Nativite" by Musica Intima. Including my all-time favourite Ave Maria rendition, by Franz Biebl, first heard (by me at least) at the Christchurch Cathedral Advent Sunday service in 1991.

clumsy ox said...

One thing I love about Noel and (to a lesser degree) Christmas with the Academy is, there are a number of carols I haven't heard in too many places. Dancing Day did a good job of resurrecting some "rare" ones too.

Perhaps those carols aren't so rare everywhere, but here in the South, one just doesn't hear "Personent hodie", for example.

If the Sixteen come out with another Christmas offering that expands their repertoire, I'll buy it in a heartbeat.

I'm going to listen to Noel now.

Trev said...

...and now I have several new albums to procure through nefarious means and listen to.

Thank you for your kind contribution to audio portion of the most wonderful time of the year.

josh nixon said...

speaking of music, you might enjoy my list of favorite canadian musicians, some of them thanks to your recommendation: