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 Favourites, Christmas Releases 2018

Daniel BehleMy Twelve Discs of Christmas are an eclectic bunch, ranging from Vaughan Williams world premieres to new carols from composers including James MacMillan, Judith Weir and Roderick Williams, and taking in Celtic/Appalachian folk music and festive albums with a twist from two leading tenors along the way…

Daniel Behle (tenor), Oliver Schnyder Trio

The tenor and composer and his regular collaborators the Oliver Schynder Trio (plus percussion!) offer a quirky programme of their own arrangements of German festive favourites, beginning with Behle’s own Festive Overture (which riffs on O Tannenbaum and Stille Nacht), and including a gloriously over-the-top cabaret-style take on O du Fröhliche and a version of Kling, Glöckchen which quotes the Nokia theme and Big Ben’s chime!

Available Format: CD

Rolando Villazón (tenor)

The Mexican tenor sings seasonal classics in the five languages which he speaks fluently, including Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Tu scendi dalle stelle, White Christmas, O Tannenbaum, Que Canten Los Niños, and O Holy Night. German singer-songwriter Sasha and French pop star Julie Zenatti join him for Leise rieselt der Schnee and Petit papa Noël.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Chapel Choir Of The Royal Hospital Chelsea, William Vann

Vaughan Williams was an avid collector and arranger of traditional carols, and almost half of the examples featured in this beautifully-sung anthology receive their world premiere recordings here – most notably the Nine Carols for Male Voices, commissioned by the British Council in 1941 for British troops serving in Iceland. Look out for David’s interview with Albion’s chairman John Francis about the project tomorrow.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, Geoffrey Webber

Webber and his Cambridge choir travelled to Oxford to record this programme of nineteenth-century French Christmas music, in order to take advantage of Exeter Chapel’s French-style organ; the programme includes excerpts from Saint-Saëns’s Christmas Oratorio and Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ, and music by Gounod, Franck, Massenet, Debussy, Fauré and Fernand de la Tombelle.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

The Sixteen, Harry Christophers

Following their hugely successful 2016 Christmas album Song of the Nativity (which focused on music from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries), The Sixteen tell the Christmas story through Renaissance works from across Europe, with music by Byrd, Tallis, Sheppard, Eccard, Lasso, Guerrero, Victoria, Handl and Sweelinck.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

For their fourth album coupling Renaissance masterpieces with new works and special commissions, the superb British vocal ensemble take the Incarnation as their theme, with a programme which includes Byrd’s O magnum mysterium, Tallis’s Videte miraculum, James MacMillan’s Nova! Nova!, and John Rutter’s Suzi’s Carol, dedicated to ORA’s founder Suzi Digby.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki

Suzuki and his Japanese choir present a selection of carols (including In dulci jubilo, Away in a Manger, It came upon the midnight clear and O come, o come, Emmanuel) in new a cappella arrangements by his son Masato, interspersed with Louis-Claude Daquin’s ‘noëls variés’ – keyboard variations on Christmas songs performed on chamber organ by the conductor.

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Houston Grand Opera, Bradley Moore

Based on the 1972 film about a lonely child whose relationship with her widowed father is transformed when she wins a Christmas tree in a school contest, Ricky Ian Gordon’s opera premiered in Houston last Christmas and was described in The Wall Street Journal as ‘a charming, family-friendly piece that manages to be heart-warming without being sappy’.

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Northwest Community Gospel Chorus & Oregon Symphony

Nine gospel carols arranged for chorus and full symphony orchestra, including Bill Winston’s Sacrifice of praise, DeMarcus William’s King of Kings, Joseph Joubert’s You Oughta Know and James Fortune’s Go Tell It – Wonderful Child, plus gospel arrangements of Handel’s Joy to the World and music from Messiah as well as a Christmas Worship Medley by Lynn DeShazo.

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Apollo's Fire, Jeannette Sorrell

Sorrell and her Cleveland-based baroque ensemble explore the musical traditions of Scottish and Irish settlers in the Appalachian mountains in this seasonal sequel to their acclaimed Appalachian Gathering from 2015; deploying an eclectic range of instruments including bagpipes, hammered dulcimer and medieval harp, the programme ranges from Scottish Gregorian chant to folk carols.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Juice Vocal Ensemble

This marvellous female vocal trio present an eclectic programme of familiar favourites such as the Coventry Carol and the Hollyberry Song in new arrangements for upper voices, and commissions by composers including Tarik O’Regan, Bernard Hughes, Simon Speare and Emily Hall.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Les Pages et les Chantres du Centre de musique baroque de Versailles & Gabrieli Consort & Players, Paul McCreesh

Filmed live at Versailles last Christmas, McCreesh’s concert reconstructed a Lutheran mass for Christmas Morning as it might have been heard in North Germany during the 1620s, interspersing Praetorius’s music with congregational chorales.

Available Format: DVD Video