Various Artists

The Complete Christmas Celebration

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American listeners may not find this collection of old Deutsche Grammophon and Decca releases to be quite the "complete Christmas celebration" that's promised. American Christmas carols as a group are not included, although of course some of the selections from the German and English carol discs have achieved popularity in that country. The contents are also a bit unbalanced, with the Nutcracker, in a fine recording from the Kirov Orchestra under Valery Gergiev, the only album containing music newer than the Baroque era. With these caveats in mind, this seven-CD box set offers high value for those who want to throw some CDs in a changer and keep it running through the holiday season. Recorded between 1980 and 1998, the box combines established favorites of the historical-instrument crowd, Gergiev's aforementioned Nutcracker (the most recent of the set), and stars respectively among the youth choirs of German and English cathedrals on the last two discs. These sound especially good in retrospect: the Bach Christmas Oratorio and Handel Messiah performances have been partly supplanted by newer approaches, but one comes to think that the high level of musical accomplishment among boy choirs at the end of the 20th century represents some kind of milestone. No texts and no booklet notes other than track lists are included; the track lists are simply repeated on the sleeves of the individual discs, which could easily have been given over to a few relevant words. But for those in search of a large volume of well-performed Christmas music for a low price, this fills the bill.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248
1 7:41
2 1:10
3 0:51
4 5:03
5 1:03
6 0:20
7 2:56
8 4:22
9 1:20
10 5:17
11 0:34
12 1:00
13 0:37
14 0:41
15 3:18
16 0:22
17 0:38
18 0:49
19 9:20
20 0:14
21 2:26
22 0:22
23 1:16
24 1:50
25 0:08
26 0:38
27 0:35
28 0:43
29 6:49
30 1:08
31 4:59
32 0:20
33 0:50
34 0:22
35 0:42
36 1:55

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248
1 5:31
2 0:32
3 2:16
4 5:39
5 1:22
6 4:23
7 2:10
8 5:55
9 0:22
10 1:40
11 0:44
12 3:59
13 0:11
14 0:29
15 1:23
16 5:34
17 0:25
18 0:54
19 4:59
20 0:42
21 0:56
22 4:24
23 1:02
24 1:02
25 0:23
26 1:51
27 3:59
28 0:37
29 3:25

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Messiah, HWV 56
1 2:56
2 6:35 Spotify
3 2:50 Spotify
4 5:31
5 2:42
6 6:14 Spotify
7 5:35 Spotify
8 4:14 Spotify
9 0:52
10 3:21
11 4:09 Spotify
12 5:03 Spotify
13 2:48
14 2:22 Spotify
15 10:19

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Messiah, HWV 56
1 3:56
2 4:06 Spotify
3 2:59
4 3:37
5 2:22 Spotify
6 3:15
7 1:44
8 2:54 Spotify
9 1:13 Spotify
10 2:04 Spotify
11 1:21 Spotify
12 3:15
13 2:11
14 4:04 Spotify
15 5:35 Spotify
16 2:02 Spotify
17 8:59
18 1:23
19 2:17 Spotify
20 4:21
21 3:45
22 3:37

Track Listing - Disc 5

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
The Nutcracker, Op. 71
1 3:14
2 3:44
3 2:13 Spotify
4 2:13
5 5:01
6 5:30
7 6:23
8 3:20
9 3:32
10 6:05
11 3:23
12 4:51
13 1:08
14 3:11
15 1:07
16 1:00
17 2:13
18 2:24
19 6:24
20 5:00
21 0:36
22 2:05
23 1:14
24 4:58
blue highlight denotes track pick