The West Edge String Quartet's Christmas Around the World is a pleasant set of carol arrangements for quartet, perfect for a small holiday get-together or a quiet evening at home, but it's also worth giving an attentive listen at least once. The mixture of the familiar and less familiar tunes comes from Western and Eastern Europe, America, and Puerto Rico, and range in date from the medieval to contemporary. The arrangements are by first violinist Kermit Poling, an active performer and composer. He thoroughly understands the importance of balance between the quartet's instruments and of keeping the music interesting to all the players, as well as the listeners. He goes far beyond just a melody in the first violin accompanied by the other three. There are elements of canon, use of countermelodies, extra percussion (in Riu, riu, chiu), and pizzicato for texture (in the Coventry Carol). The calypso setting of The Holly and the Ivy is as amusing as it is atypical. The final Christmas Cornucopia is another enjoyable concoction, with at least 12 different Christmas favorites, cleverly stirred together, but with each one still detectable. Christmas Around the World rises above the typical holiday chamber music disc.
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AllMusic Review by Patsy Morita