Various Artists

40 Most Beautiful Christmas Classics

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Warner's 40 Most Beautiful Christmas Classics presents beloved holiday standards on two ample discs, with exceptionally high production values and a strong emphasis on sacred music in its selections. Performed by such esteemed ensembles as the New College Choir Oxford, the Monteverdi Choir, Chanticleer, and the Heinrich Schütz Choir; vocal soloists Sumi Jo, Dawn Upshaw, Plácido Domingo, and Thomas Hampson; and conductors Edward Higginbottom, John Eliot Gardiner, and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, among many other extraordinary artists, the selections reflect the label's fine standards and feature some of the most tasteful arrangements. Included are deeply reverent renditions of "In dulci jubilo," "This Is the Truth Sent from Above," "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen," and "O Holy Night," and radiant performances of J.S. Bach's "O Jesulein süß," "The Shepherds' Farewell" by Hector Berlioz, and the "Hallelujah Chorus" from George Frideric Handel's Messiah. But a few secular Christmas songs are also mixed in, such as White Christmas, O Tannenbaum, and a brass medley of favorites by the London Brass, along with some classical instrumental pieces, so the religious atmosphere does not wholly dominate the collection. The recordings date from 1963 to 2001, so there is slight variability of volume and tone quality, though the mixing from track to track is superb, and everything seems properly balanced for comfortable home listening.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 3:59
2 2:52
3 3:34
4 3:05
5 1:46 Amazon
6 4:41 Amazon
7 3:57 Amazon
8 3:33
Concerto Il riposo, concerto per il Santissimo Natale, for violin, strings & continuo in E major, RV 270
9 3:49
L' Enfance du Christ, oratorio for soprano, 2 tenors, baritone, 3 basses, chorus & orchetsra ("trilogie sacrée") H. 130 (Op. 25)
10 5:49
11 2:58 Amazon
12 4:14 Amazon
13 2:12
14 5:13
15 3:03
16 2:53
17 2:47
18 4:13
19 3:31 Amazon
Concerto Grosso in G minor ("Christmas Concerto"), Op. 6/8
20 5:59 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 4:05
2 2:50
3 3:43
4 2:51
5 4:02
6 1:43
Weihnachtsoratorium (Christmas Oratorio), in six parts, BWV 248 (BC D7)
7 8:26
8 1:57
9 3:04
10 3:42
11 2:10
12 2:37
Messe de minuit, for 5 voices, chorus, instruments & continuo, H. 9
13 6:20
Nutcracker, ballet, Op. 71
14 2:51
15 2:10
16 3:23
Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56
17 0:32 Spotify
18 6:19
19 3:42
Brass Christmas Medley
20 6:37
blue highlight denotes track pick