Various Artists

Christmas Celtic Sojourn

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A Celtic Sojourn is a Celtic music radio show that is broadcast every week on Boston public radio. For this compilation, host Brian O'Donovan selected 17 of his favorite Celtic Christmas songs and seasonal instrumental tunes; the result is a charming and emotionally satisfying program that never fails to be interesting and lovely, and in several instances rises to the level of quiet genius. The first of those instances is the album's opening track, Maddy Prior's beautifully straightforward rendition of "It Came upon a Midnight Clear." Another is the slowly unfolding arrangement of the "Wexford Carol" as sung by Mairead Ni Dhomhnaill, John Renbourn, and the Voice Squad. For pure beauty, no artist matches Nowell Sing We Clear, whose astringent rendition of "I Saw a Maiden" is one of the best two or three items on this album, followed closely by Connie Dover's "Personent Hodie." And for beauty marked with eeriness, there's nothing like the Breton Ensemble Choral du Bout du Monde, whose shimmering carols sound like Christmas music from Mars. Highly recommended.

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