Top Ear

A Christmas Playlist

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Christmas has been the source of inspiration for many composers, and so we suggest:  instead of looping the same old Christmas carols over and over again (Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, Angels We Have Heard on High, etc, etc), why not impress your friends and family by playing some palate-cleansing, novel Christmas music.  Here are our Top Ear Top Picks, with our recommended recordings:

  • Heinrich Schütz:  The Christmas Story (Jacobs/Harmonia Mundi, Norrington/Decca)
  • Marc-Antoine Charpentier:  Te Deum (Christie/Harmonia Mundi, Gester/Naive)
  • Johann Sebastian Bach:  Christmas Oratorio (Gardiner/Archiv, Suzuki/BIS, Chailly/Decca)
  • George Frederic Handel:  Messiah (Colin Davis/LSO Live, Colin Davis/Philips, Pinnock/Archiv, Solti/Decca)
  • Jakob Jan Ryba:  Czech Christmas Mass (Hugo/Archiv)
  • Hector Berlioz:  L’Enfance du Christ (Best/Hyperion, Herreweghe/Harmonia Mundi)
  • Camille Saint-Saëns:  Christmas Oratorio (Otto/Deutsche Harmonia Mundi)
  • Franz Liszt:  Christmas Tree Suite (Brendel/Regis)
  • Benjamin Britten:  A Ceremony of Carols (Britten/Decca)
  • Francis Poulenc:  Four Christmas Motets (Layton/Hyperion)
  • Olivier Messiaen:  Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus (Loriod/Erato, Serkin/RCA, Ogdon/Decca, Austbo/Naxos)
  • Olivier Messiaen:  La Nativité du Seigneur (Messiaen/EMI, Latry/DG, Tanke/Brilliant)

And of course, some Christmas albums from our best-loved artists.

  • The Joy of Christmas:  Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic, Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Sony)
  • A Carnegie Hall Christmas Concert:  Frederica von Stade, Kathleen Battle, Wynton Marsalis, André Previn (Sony)
  • A Christmas Celebration:  Kathleen Battle, Leonard Slatkin, Orchestra of St. Luke’s (EMI)
  • Christmastide:  Jessye Norman (Philips)
  • Angels:  Christmas with the Great Sopranos:  Renée Fleming, Joan Sutherland, Kiri Te Kanawa, Angela Gheorghiu, Leontyne Price (Decca)
  • Christmas Songs:  Leontyne Price, Herbert von Karajan, Wiener Philharmoniker (Decca)
  • Christmas Stars:  Joy to the World:  Joan Sutherland, Kiri Te Kanawa, Renata Tebaldi, Leontyne Price, Luciano Pavarotti (Decca)
  • O Holy Night:  Luciano Pavarotti (Decca)
  • Noël:  Christmas at King’s College (Decca)

Other favorite Christmas songs:

From all of us to all of you, have a very merry Christmas and a prosperous new year!

Author: Top Ear

Musical hooligans.

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