December 12, 2012

Gift Guide 2: LISTEN!






I buy myself a sacred and a pop Christmas album every year. Why not do the same for your family?

SACRED CHRISTMAS MUSIC

Celebremos el Nino // The Rose Ensemble // Since it is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I feel we ought to start with this one, which is so vibrant and joyful. Mexican Baroque is a vastly under-appreciated time period in music history.

An American Christmas // The Boston Camerata // First Sunday of Advent: this is the first thing I listen to (skipping, of course, the last track). These are all American shape-note Advent and Christmas hymns, and they have woven themselves into every aspect of my own Advent life. The Boston Camerata's Medieval Christmas and Renaissance Christmas are pretty fantastic 

Psallite! and Sing We Christmas // Chanticleer // By far the two best of Chanticleer's many many Christmas albums. Sing We Christmas has nearly perfect versions of classics: In Dulci Jubilo, In the Bleak Midwinter, Stile Nicht. Psallite! focusses on medieval polyphony. Their version of Joseph Lieber, Jospeh Mein always gives chills.

Gabriel's Greeting // Sinfonye // Another lovely Medieval Christmas album, featuring more haunting harmonies--all Norman and Anglo hymns.

Claudio Monteverdi's Christmas Vespers // The Danish Chamber Choir // Forget the Messiah. Every Christmas I listen to this, straight through, and loud.

A Festival of Lessons and Carols // The Kings College Choir // An Advent Liturgy made popular, I dare say, by the College of Kings Choir. Plus it includes two of my favorites: Adam Lay Ybounden, and Gabriel's Message


POP CHRISTMAS MUSIC

Christmas Jazz Jam // Wynton Marsallis // Swinging and jumpy and inventive and so much fun.

A Very She & Him Christmas // She & Him // We listened to it non-stop last year. And are doing it again this year. Completely charming.

Have Yourself a Soulful Little Christmas // Kenny Burrell // J turned me on to Mr. Burrell, and I've got to say, this became an instant favorite: it is the perfect background for your Christmas Cocktail party--jazzy and soulful without being aggressive or intrusive.

A Rat Pack Christmas // Dean, Frank, Sammy // Classic and so very fun.

A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector // Various // The Ronettes, The Crystals, and Darlene Love.

Christmas Gumbo // Various New Orleans Blues and Jazz groups // One of the songs is called "Pimp My Sleigh." I don't think you need to know anything else.

A Holiday Celebration // Peter Paul & Mary // For the folk lovers out there.

The Bells of Dublin // The Chieftans // This is my favorite Chieftans album, by far. Especially The Wexford Carol.

A Charlie Brown Christmas // Vince Garauldi Trio // This is the only album which I am honestly and really truly always always always glad to hear no matter how many times I have heard it this Christmas season.

NOW TELL ME: What are your favorites? What did I miss?  

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