The Trapp Family Singers heard on this record are indeed the Austrian family made famous by the Rogers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. But listeners expecting an acoustic guitar-wielding Julie Andrews leading a troupe of wide-eyed kiddies in sugary show tunes about schnitzel and kitten whiskers are likely to be disappointed. In fact, it's questionable whether the Trapps even liked the Rogers and Hammerstein tunes, in light of longtime conductor Franz Wasner's comments on popular music in Maria Augusta Trapp's book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, which inspired the movie: "The mere word 'popular' means 'of the people,' but these tunes going under that name have nothing at all to do with the people. They are artificially made up by some individual, put on the market with the aid of great publicity, but after two years they are completely forgotten." The Trapps were a classically trained vocal chorus, and this record is devoted primarily to solemn choral renditions of classics like "Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen" and "Es Hat Sich Heut' Eroffnet." Suffice to say, there are no acoustic guitars in sight. No instruments of any kind at all, actually, since all of the carols are rendered a cappella by the singing siblings (the only exception is "Ihr Kinderlein, Kommet," which features a pair of flutes). Christmas with the Trapp Family Singers is a beautifully sung record. The tone throughout is reverent, even meditative. The Trapps seem more in their comfort zone with sacred music; their soft renditions of popular favorites like "Deck the Hall" and the Appalachian carol "Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head" come off as slightly stodgy. But in general, far from their sugary Rogers and Hammerstein image, the album is actually an excellent antidote to the saccharine sentimentality that predominates on holiday recordings. It's a perfect record for quiet reflection by the fireplace after the brown paper and strings have been removed from the packages.
AllMusic Review by Evan Cater
|Sonata for musette (or hurdy-gurdy, flute, oboe, violin) & continuo in A major (attrib. to Vivaldi, Op. 13/4)|