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Christmastime Is Here / Kunzel, Erich & Cincinnati Pops
Erich Kunzel, Ann Hampton Callaway, Tony Desare
Christmastime Is Here / Kunzel, Erich & Cincinnati Pops
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, Soundtracks, Classical
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #1

A mere 16 years after Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops recorded their now-classic Christmas with the Pops, Christmastime Is Here is their 2006 follow-up. It sticks to the same basic formula: a mix of orchestral, chora...  more »


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All Artists: Erich Kunzel, Ann Hampton Callaway, Tony Desare, Tierney Sutton, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
Title: Christmastime Is Here / Kunzel, Erich & Cincinnati Pops
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Telarc
Original Release Date: 1/1/2006
Re-Release Date: 9/26/2006
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, Soundtracks, Classical
Styles: Holiday & Wedding, Easy Listening, Vocal Pop, Opera & Classical Vocal, Sacred & Religious
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 089408053825

A mere 16 years after Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops recorded their now-classic Christmas with the Pops, Christmastime Is Here is their 2006 follow-up. It sticks to the same basic formula: a mix of orchestral, choral, and solo numbers performed by the Indiana University Singing Hoosiers (a Kunzel favorite, succeeding the original's May Festival Chorus), the School for Creative and Performing Arts Children's Choir (who sang on the original, though presumably with a different roster), and an entirely new crop of soloists. While the original relied on classic veterans such as Rosemary Clooney and Doc Severinsen, Christmastime Is Here makes use of hip jazz vocalists (and, not coincidentally, Telarc recording artists all) Ann Hampton Callaway ("I Wonder as I Wander"), Tierney Sutton ("I'll Be Home for Christmas"), Tony DeSare ("The Christmas Song"), and John Pizzarelli (""Silver Bells") as well as British sextet the King's Singers ("Silent Night"). --David Horiuchi

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CD Reviews

Best yet!
T. Simpson | Deltona, Fl | 11/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"While listening to XM (XM Classical Christmas), I heard selections from this album, and was impressed. True, this is more of a compilation album, but the quality is very good. Most of what I mention below are the singers, because the orchestra (Cincinnati Pops, Erich Kunzel directing) can be summed up as bright when they need to be, quiet when (I assume) Kunzel doesn't want them to overpower the singers.

It starts with a bright medley ("Good King Wenceslas/It Came Upon a Midnight Clear/We Three Kings/O Little Town of Bethlehem/Away in a Manger/What Child Is This/The Holly and the Ivy/Wassail/I Saw Three Ships/We Wish You a Merry Christmas"), with the Indiana University Singing Hoosiers.

The next song is "Precious Moments", written by John Williams, from the movie Home Alone. On one hand, listening can bring memories of the movie, but if you listen to the words, it evokes the joy and memories of Christmas. It is sung by School for the Creative and Performing Arts Childrens Choir. The kids who sing it are clear and on the note, I don't hear any discernable lagging, these kids are definitely our future singers.

Following that is the classic "I Wonder As I Wander", sung by Ann H. Calloway, whose voice is operatic, yet soft. I've heard some operatic singers whose voice can get a little rough on the outside, but she brings a sense of wonder to the song, like a person really thinking about the Messiah's birth. The orchestra in this is big, but goes quiet (woodwinds and bells) while she sings.

Bringing back the children's choir is Vince Guaraldi's "Christmastime Is Here", from the classic Peanuts animated special. The orchestra adds some big-band jazz feel, but then goes quiet while the children sings.

Another famous Christmas song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year", bringing back the I.U. Chorus. Similar to their first track, the chorus does a great job of hitting the notes on time, and the words are clealy heard.

In their only song on this CD, the Kings Singers bring us Silent Night, sung in German (Stille nacht), with small orchestra and harpsichord. The men's harmony and the subdued orchestra (mainly just strings).

The first orchestra-only song is The Little Drummer Boy, written and made famous by the Harry Simeone Chorale. The melody is intact, but the harmony is Maurice Ravel's BOLERO, which fits perfectly. Plus, the arranger used the same instrument progression as in Ravel's piece, and it ends with a huge orchestra again similar to Bolero.

While many songs are simply written for the season, or for a movie, the next track is "We Need a Little Christmas", from the musical MAME (Jerry Herman). This one brings back the I.U. Chorus, fast-paced but still invokes memories of the haste of getting ready. There are also a few bars of a couple Christmas songs (not sure if that is in the original song - no biggie).

After that bright rendition, the orchestra and Tony DeSare bring out "The Christmas Song", which was first written by Mel Torme (made famous by Nat King Cole). Many people know the voice of "The Velvet Fog", while Mr DeSare sounds like a younger Torme.

Like the first track, we have another great medley, this time sung by the childrens chorus (mentioned above). In this one, the kids do a spectacular job of singing "Here We Come a Wassailing/Over The River and Through The Woods/Bring a Torch Jeanette, Isabella/Pat a Pan/Jolly Old St Nicholas/I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". I know I would trip trying to sing "Over the River..." as fast as they did! Ending the medley, "Jolly Old St Nicholas has a grand big-band finale. The trumpeters even threw in a horse's nay (sp) during that song, implying a fast sleigh ride to Grandma's house.

Another orchestra-only song is "Jingle Bell Rock", but the orchestra - with a piano and banjo - becomes a Dixie-land band, then moves into a 70's rock sound. I've heard a couple other songs with the Dixie-land style, and Kunzel does a great job of bringing the feel to those type songs.

During most wars since World War II, men and women serving overseas wish they could be home with family. The song that says this is "I'll Be Home for Christmas". The song is sung by Tierney Sutton and the I.U. Chorus, not as bleak as many versions may be, but she brings a caring voice to someone wishing their relatives will be home.

Famous more for being a flautist for John Philip Sousa, and writing the musical "The Music Man", Meredith Willson wrote "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas", also sung by the IU Chorus. Some words may be out of date, but like all their other songs, they do a great job of singing. In the middle of the song, again Kunzel brings out the Dixie-land style, then going back to the jazzy and big marching band styles.

Ending the CD is the famous song from "The Lemon Drop Kid" (1950) is John Pizzarelli with the chorus (backup) singing "Silver Bells".

Overall, everything makes this CD a great Christmas addition! Some may find recording/mixing flaws, but in terms of the Cincinnati Pops, both choruses, and the soloists, over the years have made a great CD. Most people would buy a Christmas CD and keep it stowed away until next Christmas, which is fine. I do the same thing. But, this is the perfect musical backdrop to Christmas morning, the childrens chorus implies the children in us that should enjoy the holiday, while the power of the orchestra and IU Chorus implies the "reason for the season"."
Fantastic Orchestra With Chorus And Soloists Old Styled Chri
rodney wiltin | Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | 10/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Boy, this cd is great (even alot greater than ERICH KUNZEL'S first christmas recording, CHRISTMAS WITH THE POPS, which I do like as well).

In many ways, this CHRISTMASTIME IS HERE cd by ERICH KUNZEL brings back that old 1950's and 1960's style of christmas music, the only exception may be the very clear modern production but even then, this cd still resembles those great christmas albums of yesteryear.

The orchestra can really shine such as in JINGLE BELL ROCK (a nice Dixieland beginning before bursting into a kinda big band/orchestra rockin' style, reminds me kinda like the HOLLYRIDGE STRINGS version of the song) and a fantastic orhcestra version of THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY that really gets louder as the song goes on.

But the highlight for me here is the orchestra and chorus songs such as IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK ALOT LIKE CHRISTMAS, IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR and especially (and I mean especially) WE NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMAS (in fact, WE NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMAS is my favorite version of the song and although kinda similar to other versions such as by PERCY FAITH (1966 recording) and RADIO CITY (1990 recording), Erich Kunzel and company take it a big step or two further with their version and just blow the roof off with their energized and super joyful/loud recording of the tune - there is even some added lyrics from a couple of other christmas songs at one point in this Erich Kunzel version). As is probably obvious, WE NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMAS is my favorite track on this ERICH KUNZEL - CHRISTMASTIME IS HERE cd.

The famous KING SINGERS also take a turn at a song here, SILENT NIGHT, which they sing in German I believe but this is not a weak point as they sing it so beautifully, you'll easily know what song it is and it may come across as a kinda great instrumental version of the song (if you don't speak German, that is). In fact, I will go as far as saying that this is one of my favorite versions of SILENT NIGHT and that would be out of probably at least 30-50 or more versions I have of the song. So, that's saying alot about how great this take of the song is.

There is also a great kids choir that sings here and I find they are especially strong in a medley titled CAROLING FUN but even with that, the kids choir is actually very good in the few other songs they sing. They are, in fact, a strong point in this cd.

This cd gives you everything in christmas music of the past. It gives you some orchestra instrumental tracks, it gives you a couple of soloists tracks (that may make you think of some of those great crooners of the crooner age), you get a great children's choir, and you get a great adult chorus, and with all the singing (whether choirs/choruses or soloists, you usually get the traditional backing orchestra that albums of decades ago had.

If you're like me and really want some of that great orchestra, chorus/choir, and soloists music in the style of the good old 1950's and 1960's, then I would recommend this cd very, very highly. It'll make for some nice background music for when you have company over during the christmas holidays and just great christmas music for your own listening pleasure.

Or let me put it this way, there is a reason why (as of my writing this review) every review here on Amazon is giving this cd a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars. Because it is that good!"
A new Christmas favorite
J. Blunt | Cincinnati, OH | 12/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This disc has quickly become one of my favorite (if not the favorite) Christmas disc in our collection. The songs are so upbeat, cheerful...they just seem to perfectly fit the season. Many are unique interpretations of classic christmas music, yet they still sound traditional. Very strongly recommend you add this one to your collection!"