My Favorite Christmas Music
Music of the Week resumes because I can't let Christmas go by without recommending these albums.
For reasons that completely escape me, not everybody loves this album as much as I do. How to describe it? A sort of high-spirited band with winds, fiddles, and percussion, rather medieval-sounding at times, and Maddy Prior out front. She has the most winsome way with an English tune of anyone I know, and the more folky or low-church carols here are deeply delightful. You can hear thirty-second samples at the eMusic page above.
Not all the way, but definitely toward, the other end of the spectrum: an angelic Irish choir, mostly unaccompanied. Rich and sweetly dignified. Also on eMusic.
Traditional carols (and one original composition) played on Navajo flute and guitar, with occasional embellishments. Except for "Silent Night," this is an instrumental album. I suppose the idea might be considered a little cheesy. I suppose one might say that it sounds a bit New-Agey. I think it's lovely, though. Samples, again, available on eMusic.
And for a totally different sort of atmosphere: Frank Sinatra: A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra (I'll have to let you locate it for yourself). Robert sent me a tape of this five or six years ago (at least). I didn't take to it at first--it's really pretty hard to argue that it isn't cheesy, at least when the '50s hipster Frank is more in evidence, as in "Jingle Bells." Ok, part of its appeal for a fifty-something is nostalgia--it speaks of a time when adults were more adult. But what a great singer he was. The first half of the disk--undoubtedly side 1 of the LP--is secular Christmas songs, the second carols, done richly and respectfully. If you can handle a jazz singer doing Christmas music, I doubt you'd do better than this.Pre-TypePad