Christmas Choral CDsNot sure what to buy for that special someone (or yourself) this Christmas? Look no further; here are a selection of the jolliest, snowiest, mince-pie-y-est and most holly-festooned CDs of Christmas choral music we could find, to fill stockings with and pile under trees. (It would take far too long to list all our Christmas CDs; to browse the whole selection, click here.)
"Carols from King's"
The traditional Service of Nine Lessons and Carols transmitted from King's College, Cambridge every Christmas is, for many people, as fundamental a part of Christmas as the Queen's Speech and a turkey roast. A number of different services have been recorded, presenting a wide variety of new and old Christmas music, as well as collections of carols from other Cambridge college chapels and even Oxford ones too. Here are just a few...
The 2008 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols ($18.84)
The 1999 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols ($18.84)
Decca's excellent value 2-CD set "Noel!: Christmas at King's" ($18.84)
Christmas has, of course, been inspiring artists and musicians for millennia. Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Handel's Messiah are the two best-known Western classical works with a Christmas theme, and there are a great many excellent recordings of each - but there are plenty of other works from this time period (and earlier) that are well worth a listen. Take, for example...
The King's Singers and WDR Big Band's Jazz version of the Christmas Oratorio (not one for the purists...) ($35.24)
Charpentier's "Midnight Mass", based on old French Carols ($11.46) This CD also includes Charpentier's Te Deum, with its instantly-recognisable Prelude.
The Sixteen's CD of Early and Medieval Christmas Music ($24.58)
Many of the great English composers of the 19th and 20th Centuries wrote excellent Christmas music, much of which has passed into the repertoire of choirs up and down the country. Over and above the familiar carol arrangements (mostly by David Willcocks and, longer ago, William Fitzpatrick) there are many more substantial works that have endeared themselves to choirs, congregations and audiences, among them...
Finzi's "In Terra Pax" (alongside other English choral works) ($11.46)
Vaughan Williams' Christmas music. This selection from his considerable output, including among others the well-known "Fantasia on Christmas Carols" and the relatively neglected "First Nowell" Nativity play, is $24.58. Vaughan Williams' "Hodie", a cantata narrating the Christmas story, is available separately and is well worth investigating.
Britten's "Saint Nicolas" ($11.46), which tells the story of the saint at the root of the Santa Claus legend, and his haunting "Ceremony of Carols" ($11.46), a setting of traditional English Christmas texts for upper voices.
Remember - this is only a small selection of our range of Christmas CDs! For the full list, click here.