Various Artists

The Christmas Album: Original Masters

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A double disc of music recorded between 1952 and 1970, The Christmas Album aims to evoke an old-fashioned, German-style celebration of the holiday. This collection provides a cozy feeling with its medleys of charming carols and festive splendor in its grand choruses and jubilant organ music. Beyond the points of holiday mood or national flavor, the listener may be even more intrigued by the historical aspects of these recordings, which have languished in Deutsche Grammophon's vault for many decades. While the tracks are either AAD or ADD, the sound quality is amazingly good for the period, even on the oldest selections. The original masters are clean, and though the mono recordings sound a little compressed, they are free of defects. The stereo tracks are even better, with warm tone and realistic depth. The arrangements are tasteful and sweet without being saccharine, a refreshing change from the overblown production values of many later Christmas collections. Finally, the performances -- from artists such as Fritz Wunderlich, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and the wonderful Maria Stader, among many others -- are first-rate and often delightful and endearing. This fascinating and generously filled set is highly recommended, especially as an alternative to the usual seasonal fare.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Weihnachtsoratorium (Christmas Oratorio), in six parts, BWV 248 (BC D7)
1 8:17 Amazon
2
1:00 Amazon
3
1:43 Amazon
4
1:36 Amazon
5
1:24 Amazon
6
1:06 Amazon
7
1:19 Amazon
8
2:08
9
1:58 Amazon
10
2:33 Amazon
11
2:35
12 1:06 Amazon
13 1:32 Amazon
14 1:51 Amazon
15 0:40 Amazon
16 1:10 Amazon
17
2:44 Amazon
18
1:39 Amazon
19
1:52 Amazon
20
2:24 Amazon
21
1:23 Amazon
22
2:53 Amazon
23
2:39 Amazon
24
2:01 Amazon
25
1:52 Amazon
26
2:31 Amazon
27
1:46 Amazon
28
2:16 Amazon
29
1:47 Amazon
30
1:02 Amazon
31
1:34 Amazon
32
1:49 Amazon
33
1:59 Amazon
34
3:09 Amazon
Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56
35 4:24
36 2:04
37 2:20

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
3:21 Amazon
2
2:49 Amazon
3
1:33 Amazon
4
3:10 Amazon
Concerto Grosso in G minor ("Christmas Concerto"), Op. 6/8
5 4:00 Amazon
6 3:02 Amazon
7 1:20 Amazon
8 5:35 Amazon
9
0:43 Amazon
10
1:12 Amazon
11
1:49 Amazon
12
1:22 Amazon
13
1:15 Amazon
14
1:24 Amazon
15 1:40 Amazon
16 0:49 Amazon
17 1:27 Amazon
18 2:52 Amazon
19 2:01 Amazon
20 1:05 Amazon
21
2:36 Amazon
Weihnachtslieder for voice & piano, Op 8
22 1:48 Amazon
23 2:09 Amazon
24 2:25 Amazon
25 2:02 Amazon
26 2:38 Amazon
27 1:46 Amazon
28 2:40 Amazon
29 3:17 Amazon
30 2:30 Amazon
31 2:14 Amazon
32 2:25 Amazon
33 2:23 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick