The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Monday, December 7, 2009

Our Annual Yuletide Edition of Just Opened (12/4)

"Bach: Magnificat/Vivaldi: Gloria" - The Bach Choir of Bethlehem; the Bach Festival Orchestra; Greg Funfgeld, cond. The Bach Choir of Bethlehem (PA) is the oldest American Bach Choir and they've made some splendid recordings over the last 20 years, most notably for the Dorian label. This is their first for Analekta, featuring 3 works associated with the Christmas season: Bach's "Magnificat," Vivaldi's "Gloria," and another of the few works Bach wrote in Latin, the Canatata BWV 191, "Gloria in excelsis Deo." They've still "got it." (Analketa 774204987329 / AN 2 9873)

"What if Mozart Wrote 'White Christmas'
" - The Northern Lights Orchestra; Petri Juutilainen, cond. OK, this one is just plain fun. 23 years ago producer Warren Schatz was at the helm for an RCA disc entitled, "What if Mozart Wrote 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.'" It featured the Hampton String Quartet in 12 contemporary Christmas songs arranged for string quartet, and it was quite nice and a surprise hit. In the intervening years Schatz had wanted to do the project again, this time using a large string orchestra. All the old favorites, plus a couple new ones: "The Chipmunk Song" in the style of Mozart, anyone? Good, clean, musical Christmas fun. (Warren Schatz Classics 085527200522 / WS-5)

"Morten Lauridsen: Choral Works"
- Elora Festival Singers; Noel Edison, cond. Not everything here was written for Christmas, but the Christmas motets "O nata lux" and "O magnum mysterium" are so good and have become so popular that it's hard not to include it. Disc also features "Madrigali" on Italian Renaissance Poems, "Les Chansons Roses" by Rainer Maria Rilke, and "Mid-Winter Songs" on poems by Robert Graves. (Naxos 636943930427 / 8.559304)

"Frolocket ihr Volker auf Erden:
German Romantic Christmas - A Fantasia" - Munchener Bach-Chor; Michael Volle, tenor; Stefan Schilli, oboe; Florian Sonnleitner, violin; Brassensemble Munchen; Hansjorg Albrecht, concept and cond. Albrecht put this project together - A Christmas Fantasia, telling the story from the Annunciation through the Nativity, through the visit of the Shepherds and the Magi. All told using Christmas carols and motets from composers from the Romantic era - Brahms, Bruch, Max Reger, Mendelssohn, Peter Cornelius and Richard Strauss, among others. Songs, chorales, and instrumental works in the German high Romantic style. Some old favorites and some new ones, too, featuring the Munich Bach Choir and the Brass Ensemble of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. (Oehms Classics 4260034869240 / OC 924)

"Ring Christmas Bells"
- The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Orchestra at Temple Square, Mack Wilberg, cond. The annual Christmas pageant with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been a Yuletide event for ages, and every year there's a special guest - this past Christmas it was Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell and the Mormon Tabernacle Bell Choir. A live concert recording from December 2008, with carols old and new in the MTC style. (Mormon Tabernacle Choir 0783027015126 / SKU 5023338)

"Carols by Candlelight: Music for Advent and Christmas"
- The Choir of Magdalen College Oxford; Bill Ives, cond. Although not as world-famous as their Oxford campus neighbors, the Choirs of King's and St John's Colleges, the Magdalen Choir is one of the oldest English choirs still in existence. They've also made some wonderful recordings in the past few years for harmonia mundi, and this is their first Christmas collection: 23 carols and hymns down through the ages, focusing on Advent and the season of preparation and expectation, and the Christmas celebration of the birth of Christ. (harmonia mundi usa 09304674852 / HMU 907495)

Thanks to the labels and artists for the early Christmas presents on WSCL!

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