Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Annual Christmas Music Recommendations - 2011: "Downe in Yon Forrest" and "Lighten the Dark"

The Feast of St. Nicholas seems as good a time as any to make my annual Christmas music recommendations for 2011. You can view recommendations from previous years at these links:
  • New Music Recommendations for the Season (2010)
  • Music Review: Sting's If On a Winter's Night (2009)
  • Tip of the Day: Buy Tydings Trew ... Cheap! (2008)
  • MUST BUY: A Christmas Recording to Celebrate All 12 Days of Christmas (2007)
  • Favorite Christmas Music (2007)
  • Tydings Trew (2007)
  • Favorite Christmas Recordings (2006)

  • First up for this year is a 2009 release that I recently purchased titled Downe In Yon Forrest (Christmas From The Middle Ages) by Kemper Crabb.

    This musical offering contains live CD and DVD recordings of Crabb's 2008 PBS Christmas special. Here's the track list:

    1. What Child Is This
    2. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent
    3. The Song Of The Ship
    4. Divinum Mysterium (Of The Father's Love Begotten)
    5. Downe In Yon Forrest
    6. The Coventry Carol
    7. The Sussex Carol
    8. Personent Hodie
    9. Taladh Chrisosda (The Christ Child Lullabye)
    10. I Saw Three Ships
    11. Veni, Veni Emmanuel (O Come, O Come Emmanuel)
    12. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

    The best description I can provide of this recording comes from my wife, Sarah, who, upon hearing this for the first time, responded: "This sounds like 'Dead Can Dance Christmas'." But don't take her word for it, here's a sampling from Youtube:

    Good stuff. Very Highly Recommended (must buy).

    The next recording I wish to recommend is a 2009 release by the apparently now-defunct English folk group Kerfuffle, titled Lighten The Dark - A Midwinter Album.

    The track list is as follows:

    1. Three Ships
    2. Cherry Tree Carol
    3. The Truth From Above
    4. Bransles
    5. Lullay My Liking
    6. Gallery Carol
    7. Sussex Carol
    8. Nowell, Nowell
    9. The Holly & The Ivy
    10. Gower Wassail
    11. The Bitter Withy

    I purchased this CD recently primarily because of the group's outstanding version of Sarah's favorite Christmas carol, "The Sussex Carol" (also known as "On Christmas Night"), but the rest of the recording is outstanding as well. Once again, here is a Youtube sampling of Kerfuffle's very English folk take on Christmas music:

    Highly Recommended (you really should buy).

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