Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
20 Christmas Favorites/Supreme Strings
Genres: Special Interest, Christian
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An Unsurpassed Christmas Musical Experience
John C. Parsons | Orlando, FL United States | 07/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remain firmly convinced that Paul Mickelson's arrangements of these 20 holiday classics comprise the best Christmas album yet recorded. The present version, "20 Christmas Favorites," adds "I Wonder as I Wander" and "Gesu Bambino," to the 18 tracks on the RCA Victor 1958 mono vinyl "The Best of Christmas." This is not a re-release; the album was re-recorded in 1990, with Mickelson conducting.A gifted musician, Mickelson was Billy Graham's crusade organist. His accomplished arrangements pour into the album's familiar melodies a wealth of genuine religious feeling and a ready understanding of Christmas as the ultimate family holiday. The settings are immediately attractive--reverent in the carols, lightheartedly appealing in secular songs like "Deck the Halls" and "Jingle Bells." Mickelson's excellent training equipped him to identify a brief musical phrase common to some of these melodies--a motif we've all heard in them but never recognize. (For those familiar with such terms, it's the rising interval of an octave.) If the octave motif doesn't occur in a melody, Mickelson ingeniously works it into his arrangement. Discreetly but masterfully, it permeates Mickelson's charts and gives the CD a satisfying unity no other holiday album can claim.The 1990 version naturally offers brighter, cleaner sound than the 1958 recording. The 1958 version used voices that seem much more mature than those in 1990. Listeners familiar with the 1958 sequence of tracks may disagree with the placement of the 2 new ones; "I Wonder as a Wander," for example, interrupts what was a highly effective sequence between "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "O Holy Night." But on the whole, the 1990 version compares favorably with the 1958 original."Sleigh Ride" is the only track Mickelson did not score; he uses the familiar LeRoy Anderson chart. The fanfare to "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing" flawlessly evokes the angels' appearance on the first Christmas. I've heard nothing like Mickelson's "Angels We Have Heard on High": the chorus, "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," is a blazing brass canon (think "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" or "Frere Jacques"). Canon (or round)is another sophisticated technique Mickelson effectively uses--"It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" is in canon from start to finish. "White Christmas" features a dramatic piano solo that adds feeling and conviction to this classic. "O Holy Night" is stunning without being heavyhanded. The oriental touches to "We Three Kings" are evocative but unobtrusive, and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" perfectly depicts the silence and shimmering starlight of that first Christmas night.Don't miss this masterpiece. Your Christmases will never be the same once you've heard it."