Favorite Christmas Recordings

I love to listen to Christmas music throughout the season (including the 12 days of Christmas beginning with Christmas Day!). Over the years I’ve accumulated a nice collection of Christmas music. Here are some of my favorites, with links to Amazon if you want to learn more about or acquire a recording:

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas with Vince Guaraldi. Not only does it recall this wonderful Christmas special but listening to Guaraldi’s  jazz piano with a hot cup of something by the Christmas tree on a cold winter’s night–it doesn’t get any better.

2. A Christmas Festival with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston PopsThis is the classic pops performance of Christmas tunes that includes Leroy Anderson’s “Sleighride” that everyone else imitates!

3. Song of Angels: Christmas Humns and Carol: Robert Shaw Chamber SingersThis is a great collection if you love choral music. Shaw was among the very best and you find less common pieces like “My Dancing Day” and “The Cherry Tree Carol”.

4. More Shaw:  The Many Moods of ChristmasRobert Russell Bennett arranged these four suites of familiar Christmas tunes for Robert Shaw, whose recordings are the gold standard.

5. Christmas Star: Carols for the Christmas Season: The Cambridge Singers and Orchestra dir. by John RutterThis is a beautiful collection of carols in the British choral tradition. They were digitally recorded in 1981 and thought lost until discovered and released in 1997. It includes “Twas in the moon of winter time”, a French Canadian carol and “O Little One Sweet”, a German Carol.

6. Brass and Christmas just seem to go together. Christmas with London Brass includes all the favorites and more!

7. There are several individual artists whose Christmas albums are favorites. One of my favorites that I still listen to in vinyl is Joan Baez’ Noel. Her renderings of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “Ave Maria” are riveting.

8. James Taylor at Christmas was originally released as a Hallmark Christmas CD and later re-released on Columbia with the additional song “River”. This was where I first heard David Grusin’s “Who Comes this Night”.

9. Tony Bennett: The Classic Christmas Album is just that. Nothing more need be said!

10. Finally, I think a good orchestral collection of Christmas music is a must. Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Greatest Christmas Hits fills the bill perfectly (although you may have to do some hunting to find it).

You might find these at a discount after Christmas–some I’ve picked up for $1 at second-hand stores. What are your favorite Christmas recordings?

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