Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Unusually fine Christmas music

I have carousel players for CDs, and at Christmastime I load them and put the Christmas music section on shuffle. Most guests like it, as there's a great deal of variety, from the London Symphony to the Gregg Smith Singers to Bing Crosby, Sinatra, and other pop singers. This year I've found a new one that I find especially appealing.

Karolju is done by David Zinman with the BBC Symphony and the Philharmonia Chorus. There's nothing you're likely to recognize here, though you may think it sounds familiar. The main attraction here is a suite of original carols by American composer Christopher Rouse. They were originally written for the Baltimore Symphony, in a variety of styles, from contemplative to jolly, and a range of languages (Latin, Swedish, French, Spanish, Russian -- very characteristic -- Czech, German and Italian -- especially lovely. It all sounds Christmas-y and much of it as if you think you ought to know it. Imaginative and well-done.

The CD also contains a suite of Polish Christmas songs by Witold Lutoslawski, and three very Spanish-sounding pieces by Joaquin Rodrigo, which are definitely worth your attention. But the Christopher Rouse suite is the highlight.

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