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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My classical Christmas playlist has become a bit stale and needs refreshment. Beyond Handel's Messiah, Bach's Christmas Oratorio, A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, and Gevaert's Christmas Mass, what's worth a listen?

Any Christmas Vespers you recommend? Stumbled just now across an interesting list at https://houstonsymphony.org/15-pieces-classical-music-christmas/ but prefer recommendations from you fine folks.

Cheers,

Walt
 

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- there are several discs with medieval carols (e.g. the all female "anonymous 4")
- likewise with ca. 1600 Lutheran Christmas music, such as Praetorius (at least one on cpo with Weser Renaissance and one on Archiv with McCreesh)
- Schütz: Christmas history
- Bach's other Christmas (and advent) cantatas
- Mendelssohn "Vom Himmel hoch" cantata
- Saint-Saens: Xmas oratorio (a short, lyrical piece)
- Britten: Ceremony of Carols
- Vaughan Williams "Hodie" and the shorter Fantasia on carols
 

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(EDIT: I see that Kreisler Jr. beat me to it & mentioned some of the same works that I recommend below... oh well.)

The first CD that comes to mind is a favorite Christmas recording by the Gabrieli Consort & Players, led by Paul McCreesh,

--Michael Praetorius, "Lutheran Mass for Christmas Morning":


In addition, the Boston Camerata has done a whole series of early music Christmas recordings, some of which may appeal to you, if you're open to hearing music from other lands & ages (though granted, some of it is a bit different, so definitely sample before you buy):

--A Medieval Christmas--"Hodie Christus Natus":
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=boston+c...efix=boston+cmer,aps,195&ref=nb_sb_ss_sc_1_11

--"A Mediterranean Christmas":
https://www.amazon.com/Mediterranea...1637743674&sprefix=boston+cmer,aps,195&sr=8-2

--"A Renaissance Christmas":
https://www.amazon.com/Renaissance-...4a7d6&pd_rd_wg=PWvol&pd_rd_i=B000005IXX&psc=1

--"A Medieval Christmas":
https://www.amazon.com/Medieval-Chr...swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1637743674&sr=8-7

--"A Baroque Christmas":
https://www.amazon.com/Baroque-Chri...637744675&sprefix=boston+cmer,aps,195&sr=8-11

--"Noël, Noël! French Christmas Music, 1200-1600": https://www.amazon.com/Noël-French-...637744675&sprefix=boston+cmer,aps,195&sr=8-12

--"An American Christmas":
https://www.amazon.com/American-Chr...ea507&pd_rd_wg=TJB9v&pd_rd_i=B000000SM1&psc=1

--"Sing We Noel: Christmas Music from England & Early America":
https://www.amazon.com/Sing-We-Noel...03187&pd_rd_wg=DfH9q&pd_rd_i=B000005IVW&psc=1

--"A Spanish Christmas": I can only find this CD in the 3 CD box set linked below... EDIT: Here it is on Spotify:

--"The Brotherhood of the Star: A Hispanic Christmas 1300-1700": https://bostoncamerata.org/shopitem/the-brotherhood-of-the-star-a-hispanic-christmas-1300-1700/

--The following 3 CD box set includes three of the above recordings: "Boston Camerata Christmas: Worlds of Early Music": https://www.amazon.com/Boston-Camer...c&sprefix=boston+camerata+,popular,183&sr=1-4

There are also number of excellent CDs from the Anonymous 4, which I'd strongly recommend:


as well as the following recording from the Waverly Consort,

--"Renaissance Christmas Celebration with the Waverly Consort":

I'm sure there are many other Christmas CDs from U.K. ensembles, such as the Gothic Voices, etc.--apart from the Praetorius CD that I mentioned above--but hopefully someone else will cover those.

Oh yes, there is Vaughan Williams "Hodie - A Christmas Cantata", as well, & the 1965 David Willcocks recording with Janet Baker is excellent:
).

Lastly, Heinrich Schütz composed a Christmas oratorio, entitled "Weichnachthistorie", or "The Christmas Story", which was published under the title, "Historia der Geburt Jesu Christi" (or "History of the birth of Jesus Christ'). The Gabrieli Consort has recorded a "Christmas Vespers" CD of Schutz music that included this work:

https://www.amazon.com/Schütz-Gabri...swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1637746545&sr=8-6.

I recall that Andrew Parrott likewise recorded it with the Tavener Consort (coupled with Praetorius Motets):

https://www.amazon.com/Schütz-Weihn...5&sprefix=schutz+christm,classical,184&sr=8-9.

Hope that helps.
 

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Anon.: Winchester Troper

Mary Berry, Schola Gregoriana Of Cambridge



Corelli: Concerto Grosso in G Minor, Op. 6, No. 8 "Christmas Concerto"

Sir Neville Marriner, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields

Edit to add:



Schütz: Christmas Oratorio

Elisabeth Graf, Rainer Seifert, Klaus Eibensteiner, Michael Schopper, Bernhard Hirtreiter, Michael Mantaj, Munich Monteverdi Orchestra, Wolfgang Kelber, Mona Spägele, Joachim Epple, Matthias Ettmayr, Anton Miischl, Heinrich-Schutz Ensemble Munich
 

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There is a whole bunch of Italian "christmas concerti" (per la notte di natale) of which Corelli's is the most famous. Several anthologies have been recorded, e.g. Pinnock/Archiv; I have one with "Giardino armonico". A famous french baroque piece is Charpenties Messe de minuit pour noel. If you like romantic a cappella, Brahms (op.74,2), Reger and others have short motet-like choral settings for Advent and Christmas findable on anthology discs.

For something completely different, there is Rimsky-korsakov's opera "The night before Christmas" the beautiful orchestral suite of which is recorded with some frequency.
 

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I know you've been hit with a lot of recording suggestions, but just to add a straw to break the camel's back, John Eliot Gardiner put out a collection of Christmas hymns and songs spanning the Renaissance to the 20th Century with his Monteverdi Choir at their peak, and as Gardiner would say, "There's not a duffer in the bunch."

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
- there are several discs with medieval carols (e.g. the all female "anonymous 4")
- likewise with ca. 1600 Lutheran Christmas music, such as Praetorius (at least one on cpo with Weser Renaissance and one on Archiv with McCreesh)
- Schütz: Christmas history
- Bach's other Christmas (and advent) cantatas
- Mendelssohn "Vom Himmel hoch" cantata
- Saint-Saens: Xmas oratorio (a short, lyrical piece)
- Britten: Ceremony of Carols
- Vaughan Williams "Hodie" and the shorter Fantasia on carols
Thank you for this! I'll poke about and check 'em out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
(EDIT: I see that Kreisler Jr. beat me to it & mentioned some of the same works that I recommend below... oh well.)

The first CD that comes to mind is a favorite Christmas recording by the Gabrieli Consort & Players, led by Paul McCreesh ...
Incredibly helpful and incredibly gracious of you to provide links. Though all are interesting, I'll likely start with Praetorius (being a Lutheran, how could I do otherwise) and Williams, whose works I tend to enjoy. Much obliged!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·


Anon.: Winchester Troper

Mary Berry, Schola Gregoriana Of Cambridge



Corelli: Concerto Grosso in G Minor, Op. 6, No. 8 "Christmas Concerto"

Sir Neville Marriner, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields

Edit to add:



Schütz: Christmas Oratorio

Elisabeth Graf, Rainer Seifert, Klaus Eibensteiner, Michael Schopper, Bernhard Hirtreiter, Michael Mantaj, Munich Monteverdi Orchestra, Wolfgang Kelber, Mona Spägele, Joachim Epple, Matthias Ettmayr, Anton Miischl, Heinrich-Schutz Ensemble Munich
Much appreciated. I've happily stumbled onto the Corelli piece; I suspect I've heard it before ... and then forgot about it. Wonderful little piece.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I know you've been hit with a lot of recording suggestions, but just to add a straw to break the camel's back, John Eliot Gardiner put out a collection of Christmas hymns and songs spanning the Renaissance to the 20th Century with his Monteverdi Choir at their peak, and as Gardiner would say, "There's not a duffer in the bunch."

Thanks for this. I'm usually not a big fan of collections and anthologies, but anything from John Eliot Gardiner deserves attention. I'll look into this one!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Wondering if anyone has strong opinions on Saint-Saëns' Oratorio de Noël. Read that it was composed in the span of only a couple of weeks and is said to sound rushed. My gut reaction upon fist listen last night was, "I'm not sure how much I dig this ... but I think I should keep digging." :cool:
 

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Thanks for these recommendations, too. The Rimsky-korsakov opera sounds intriguing. Still not a huge opera fan, but it may simply be that I haven't yet met the right one.
I don't know that opera very well but the orchestral suite is one of my Rimsky favorites; apparently Tchaikovsky's opera Cherevichki (Slippers) is based on the same story by Gogol "Christmas eve" or literally "The Night before Christmas")

 

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Wondering if anyone has strong opinions on Saint-Saëns' Oratorio de Noël. Read that it was composed in the span of only a couple of weeks and is said to sound rushed. My gut reaction upon fist listen last night was, "I'm not sure how much I dig this ... but I think I should keep digging." :cool:
It's not a particularly "great piece". It's been a long time since I heard it but I saw it live years ago (it can be done with fairly modest forces and is not long) and have some sentimental attachment but no strong opinion either. If you don't care for it, it's probably not worth pursuing further.
 

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You go to Prague and everyone is playing and singing Jakub Jan Ryba: Czech Christmas Mass for soloists, choir, organ and orchestra.
 
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Romanticism:

Josef Rheinberger - The Star of Bethlehem

Berlioz - L'enfance du Christ

Herzogenberg - The Birth of Christ Oratorio

Nicolai - Christmas Overture
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Romanticism:

Josef Rheinberger - The Star of Bethlehem

Berlioz - L'enfance du Christ

Herzogenberg - The Birth of Christ Oratorio

Nicolai - Christmas Overture
Thanks - three I'd not heard of before and a reminder that I need to give the Berlioz piece a listen. Note to myself: "He wrote more than just Symphonie fantastique, you know!"
 
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