Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Mormon Tabernacle Choir|
Spirit of Christmas
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, Classical
The Mystery and "Mystique" of Christmas
Paul M. Blowers | Elizabethton, TN USA | 11/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At long last this magnificent recording from years ago--in my judgment the finest of the many Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas albums--has appeared on a CD. The familiar "Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming" is exquisite, but there are rarely heard pieces, including "The Snow Lay on the Ground" by the 19th-century composer Leo Sowerby, and "Christmas Day" by Gustav Holst (of "The Planets" fame), a splendid composite of "Good Christian Men Rejoice" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." When I was a kid, we wore out many an LP version of this recording. That version has all but disappeard (I still have a scratched copy) and there was a run on cassette. But the CD version should immortalize this elegant set of Christmas music. Listen and be enthralled by the wonder and the mystery of the Christmas season."
A unique recording
Paul M. Blowers | 01/04/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's so interesting to read all the reviews that begin, "I grew up with this record!" Add me to that list. (NOTE: If you grew up with the old LP do not be frightened by the CD cover--it's still the same recording.) The old LP of this recording was a staple of Christmas music during my youth. Now that I return to this recording years later I find it still holds a special place in my collection (even with a few faults). What makes this album unique is the programming. In addition to the well known and well worn Christmas favorites, there are several undiscovered gems on this disc. "The Snow Lay On the Ground," while a traditional tune is rarely recorded for reasons that mystify me. It is a beautiful, singable carol. "Tell Us, Shepherd Maids," "The Shepherd's Story" and "Bethlehem Night" are lesser known choral works that each provide refreshing new sounds to a season of all-too-repetitive standards.Sadly, the recording quality is noticeably weak. Additionally, the Choir's sound is not always appropriate for pieces selected. The big, bold sound of the Mormon Tabernacle is perfect for "Break Forth, O Beautous Heavenly Light" but seems a bit thick and heavy on pieces like "The Three Kings." Still at [this price] these are quibbles indeed. A bargain that will be a fine addition to any christmas collection."
A Christmas Staple & A Singularly Wonderful Recording
Pachacutec | Pennsylvania | 08/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a Christmas-carol-ophile, and I agree with the other reviewers that this recording is an absolute Christmas staple. Ever since I was a young child, at least as young as 3 or 4 years old, I have been enchanted and mesmerized by the music of Christmas in a way that few others do. This great love is reflected in my CD collection, so top-heavy with Christmas music that some find it unusual. So please take my word for it when I say that this is one of those recordings which are absolutely indispensable at Christmas time. I purchased the LP of this recording when I was around 18 years old (I'm now 45); so while I didn't grow up with it as a child, I guess I completed my adolescence with it, and it has been a part of my Christmasses ever since. I had searched for the CD incarnation of it for several years, finally finding it two years ago. I'd definitely rate this as among the top five in my collection of several hundred Christmas CDs, and I say that very conservatively. Please allow me to 'splain why:
In addition to the usual carols which are known to every American, there are 5 which are every bit as "catchy" and melodious as the familiar ones, but even more beautiful. Specifically, they are:
1)"Tell Us, Shepherd Maids" (an English version of the French-Canadian "D'ou viens-tu, bergere?");
2)"The Snow Lay on the Ground" (a peaceful and wonderfully Catholic carol with its references not only to Mary and Joseph, but even to Saint Anne; and the Latin refrain of "Venite adoremus Dominum" [O come, let us adore the Lord];
3)"The Three Kings" (translated from the Catalunian carol "El Desembre Congelat" and containing wonderful rhythm and rhyme in addition to its catchy melody);
4)"What Perfume This? O Shepherds, Say!" (from the well-known French carol "Quelle Est Cette Odeur Agreable?"); and
5)"Come Ye Lofty, Come Ye Lowly" -- This carol uses a hauntingly melodious little Breton (French Celtic) tune from the Brittany region of northern France. When I hear the word "sprightly," I automatically think of this carol and this recording. Its lovely melody and words (" ... Christmas holly leaf and berry, all be prized for His dear sake ...") combine to produce one of the single most "Christmassy" carols I can think of.
"Come Ye Lofty, Come Ye Lowly" (not a separate track listing) is contained within an elaborate choral piece by the famous English composer Gustav Holst entitled "Christmas Day", which is basically a choral medley (with organ accompaniment) of 4 popular carols. The work conveys such utter reverence, wonder, awe, and peace - especially at its end - that it is hard to believe that Holst was not a religious man.
Two more elaborate choral pieces, both a capella, are "The Shepherds' Story" and "Bethlehem Night". These two tracks are not at all "catchy" in the "Jingle Bells" sense - (one could never use them for "caroling") - and so much the better for it. These aren't mere "tunes," but rather "works"; both use musical techniques and words to evoke the stillness, the mystery, and the exotic Middle Eastern feel of that night in Bethlehem in the Year One.
Finally, I also greatly enjoy the rousing (and yes, melodious) baroque choral piece (also a capella), "Glory to God in the Highest" by Giovanni Pergolesi. I had originally bought the LP version of this recording, in fact, only because of the presence of this piece and the Leontovich-Wilhousky arrangement of "Carol of the Bells," both of which we had sung in my high school chorus. Since then I have come to regard this entire recording as being as indispensible to the Christmas season as a Christmas tree, and I couldn't imagine spending a Christmas season without it. Luckily, I don't have to."