Library Essentials 3: Three More (Timeless) Christmas Stars

They may be from the distant past, but these three Christmas recordings hold up as well or better than most anything in the catalog. The first one, a disc from Naxos featuring Victor Hely-Hutchinson’s A Carol Symphony and works by four other composers, is one I recommend every year–because it’s just so well done, the orchestral arrangements are clever, unique, and the music is just so thoroughly Christmas-y! And even though it originally was released in 2002, it’s still available–as a CD even! You can find it here (where you’ll also find a copy of my review).

Second: this one is so old that on my copy–the original CD release on CRD from 1985–the track listings on the back cover are presented as Side 1 and Side 2, obviously taken from the recording’s alternate LP packaging–although this is a digital recording made in 1984. The disc, Carols From New College, features my favorite English university choir with boy trebles. Edward Higginbottom was truly a master, not only of repertoire and musicality, but of cultivating such a uniquely warm, vibrant, lovely treble sound. You may notice that several of Higginbottom’s tempos are slower than what’s fashionable with most of today’s choirs, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The sound is consistently gorgeous–and there are some excellent solos. This, too, is still available, on CD (as well as on some streaming services), repackaged for its re-issue in 2009. You can find the CD version here.

Finally, another disc I just can’t help recommending every year is by far the best Christmas brass recording ever: Horns for the Holidays, performed by the Dallas Wind Symphony led by Jerry Junkin, was released by Reference Recordings in 2012, and once you hear it you’ll never let a holiday season go by without bringing it back for multiple plays. Rather than try to describe this wild and wonderful program, I suggest you just jump to the link here, which also contains my full review. Happy listening!