Thursday, December 02, 2010

New Music Recommendations for the Season

Every year at this time, I make recommendations for seasonal music appropriate either to Advent, Christmas, or both. You can find past recommendations in the links below. I encourage you to check them out. (You'll notice that there are three ... count 'em ... THREE ... separate posts dedicated to, and a grand total of five ... count 'em ... FIVE ... posts in which I very highly recommend, a CD titled "Tydings Trew". This makes the sixth post in which I do so. If you haven't bought this recording yet, what ARE you waiting for?)

This year, I would like to suggest a couple of new music offerings that I recently purchased.

The first is one that my wife, Sarah, is just wild about. She says it is her new favorite recording of holiday music. It is "Welcome Yule: An English Christmas Revels".


Here is a description of the recording from the Revels website:
This joyous new holiday CD highlights the best of Revels' most popular English-themed Christmas productions and features stunning music, songs and holiday carols from Medieval, Renaissance and Victorian periods. The Christmas Revels Chorus and Children's Chorus are joined by a host of wind, string and brass instruments in a wide array of festive music for the season. Particularly moving is the thrilling live sound of 1,000 audience members filling Sanders Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with their voices on the peace round, "Dona Nobis Pacem," one of several live cuts found on this new recording. Other live cuts include "The Sussex Mummers' Carol" and The Christmas Revels' iconic signature piece, "The Lord of the Dance."

Featuring music from this year’s show at Sanders Theatre.


[...]

Songlist
1. On Christmas Night
2. Te Deum
3. All Hail to the Days
4. The Cries of London
5. Tomorrow the Fox Will Come to Town
6. Renaissance Dances
7. Salutation Carol/Bring Us In Good Ale
8. In the Bleak Midwinter
9. The Lord of the Dance
10. Ther Is No Rose of Swych Vertu
11. Holly and his Merry Men
12. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
13. English Country Dances
14. While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night
15. Dona Nobis Pacem
16. There Shall a Star from Jacob Come Forth
17. Come and I Will Sing You
18. Rejoice, Ye Tenants of the Earth
19. The Sussex Mummers' Carol
In the past, I have highly recommended other offerings from "The Christmas Revels" collection, and I give their latest recording an even stronger recommendation than I gave to their past efforts.

Very Highly Recommended (must buy).

The other new music offering I wish to recommend is "The Cherry Tree: Songs, Carols & Ballads for Christmas" by Anonymous 4.


Here is the product description from Amazon.com:
Back in the studio after a four year hiatus, Anonymous 4 returns with The Cherry Tree, an instant holiday music classic featuring medieval English carols and Anglo-American spiritual songs. It is the eighteenth original recording for the renowned vocal ensemble and their first since 2006's Gloryland, which debuted at number three on the Billboard classical chart. Anonymous 4 has been a perennial presence on Billboard s Top Classical Albums chart and hit number one with their folk-inspired American Angels in 2004. The Cherry Tree is named after the miracle ballad of Joseph and Mary, the earliest text of which survives from a Coventry Play from around 1400. The 'Cherry Tree' story persisted in many forms, making its way into medieval British carols of the mid-15th century and into British and American traditional ballads. In it, Joseph doubts the divine origin of Mary's pregnancy only to hear Jesus speak from within Mary's womb, causing a cherry tree to bend its branches and offer his mother its fruit. The 2011-12 season marks Anonymous 4's 25th anniversary and the group will be on tour in the US this fall.
You can read more about this recording at the Anonymous 4 website:
Track List
1 Prophetarum presignata
2 Nowel syng we bothe al and som
3 Alma redemptoris mater
4 The Shepherd's Star
5 Newell - Tydings trew
6 Mervele noght Iosep
7 Synge we to this mery cumpane
8 Qui creavit celum
9 A Virdin Unspotted
10 Now may we syngyn
11 Lullay my child - This ender nithgt
12 Star in the East
13 Veni redemptor gencium
14 The Cherry Tree Carol
15 Salve mater misericodie
16 Hail mary ful of grace
17 Bethlehem

[More]
This is the third Christmas recording by Anonymous 4 that I have recommended, having suggested both "On Yoolis Night: Medieval Carols & Motets" and "Wolcum Yule: Celtic and British Songs and Carols" in the past. "The Cherry Tree" definitely surpasses "Wolcum Yule", but no Anonymous 4 recording, in my view, comes close to the transcendant "On Yoolis Night", which , along with Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song", is my choice for music on Christmas Eve at the Anderson household (although I usually get outvoted by those who'd rather hear Gene Autry or Burl Ives sing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"). If you can only own one Anonymous 4 Christmas recording, buy "On Yoolis Night".

But fans of Anonymous 4 will obviously want to own "The Cherry Tree"; and I also recommend this recording for anyone who is interested (as I am) in listening to medieval and renaissance English and early-American Advent and Christmas carols and ballads.

Highly Recommended (you really should buy).


Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Music Review: Sting's If On a Winter's Night

Tip of the Day: Buy Tydings Trew ... Cheap!

MUST BUY: A Christmas Recording to Celebrate All 12 Days of Christmas

Favorite Christmas Music

Tydings Trew

Favorite Christmas Recordings

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