Stunningly Beautiful Christmas Music!
Bibliophile | 10/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Growing up in the sixties, I remember Christmas as a time when the family came together and ate, laughed, enjoyed the spirituality of the holiday, exchanged gifts and listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's album "The Holly and the Ivy". As an adult, I had perpetually been on a quest to locate a CD copy of said album, with no success. Over the course of the past few years, I have wound up with a collection of *HORRIBLE* Christmas music (Christmas jazz, Christmas rock, etc.); all the while knowing in my heart that perfection was out there just waiting to be found. While at work late one night, I was browsing through the Amazon.com music section and came across Robert Shaw. After reading the other reviews here, I figured that $20.00 or so wasn't too much to spend in my search of the "perfect" Christmas album.There are not enough superlatives to describe this album. It is everything that I remember "The Holly and the Ivy" was and more! I would describe the music here as "serious" Christmas music, but that does The Songs of Angels a disservice. As another reviewer stated below, The Songs of Angels truly sounds like the "voice of God himself". The voices are phenomenal. The arrangement is exquisite. The song selections are perfect. This is what I had been searching for.If there were more than five stars available for an Amazon.com review, I would give them here. If you are looking for the perfect Christmas album, your search is over."
Lovely a cappella harmonies
E. A. Lovitt | Gladwin, MI USA | 12/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Robert Shaw Chamber singers perform this collection of Christmas hymns and carols without instrumental accompaniment. The chorus is absolutely superb. The soloists are what you could expect from a good Church `Messiah.'As a strict Christmas traditionalist, I'm happy to say that none of the top ten Christmas carols as chosen by AOL subscribers made it onto this recording, e.g. 'All I Want for Christmas' - Mariah Carey, 'White Christmas' - Bing Crosby, 'The Christmas Song' - Nat King Cole, '8 Days of Christmas' - Destiny's Child, 'Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays' - *NSYNC, 'Happy Christmas' - John Lennon, 'Little Drummer Boy' - Bing Crosby & David Bowie, 'Where Are You Christmas' - Faith Hill, 'Oh Holy Night' - Nat King Cole, and 'Blue Christmas' - Elvis Presley.Well, `Oh Holy Night' would have been okay. "Fum, Fum, Fum," a traditional Catalan carol is probably the jolliest, most secular song on this recording, followed closely by "Good King Wenceslas." I love the part where the jolly bass king sings, "Bring me bread and bring me wine, etc." Some children might be confused when the same bass shows up for a few verses of "We Three Kings of Orient Are." They might ask you whether Good King Wenceslas was one of the three kings who followed the star to Bethlehem.You may assure them that he was not.Since many these songs are medieval in origin, they reference the Crucifixion as well as the Birth---a reminder of the solemnity of the season.Also included is a traditional Kentucky Mountain Ballad, "The Cherry Tree Carol" where Joseph finally gets to sing a line: "Let the father of thy baby gather cherries for thee!"When the cherry bough bends down and drops its fruit into Mary's lap, Joseph falls silent for the rest of the Christmas repertoire (as far as I can tell).If you are a Christmas traditionalist like me, I think you'll enjoy playing this recording over and over again during the Holiday season."
Beautiful and Precise
Tars Tarkas | Barsoom | 11/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I was a kid, we used to listen to this album every Christmas (on vinyl). We often contrasted it with a Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas album we also had, the Mormons good for rousing anthems, Robert Shaw for more intimate and moving and, I think, more beautiful evocations of the Spirit of Christmas. What continues to amaze me, and other reviewers have noted this, is the precision of the voices, of the diction, and the discipline of the dynamics. No voice standing out unless called for, all of them melding seamlessly into something so gorgeous I keep buying a copy each Christmas to give as a gift since it is my most precious thing to give (to those who love real choral singing, anyway).I listen to it, not as background "mood" music as if in a department store, but almost reverently, with headphones on and with complete concentration. It just takes me away."