Various Artists – The Classic Christmas (1996)

FrontCover1.jpgMany large-scale religious compositions are performed in a concert setting at Christmas. Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (Weihnachts-Oratorium, BWV 248), written for Christmas 1734, describes the birth of Jesus, the annunciation to the shepherds, the adoration of the shepherds, the circumcision and naming of Jesus, the journey of the Magi, and the adoration of the Magi.[16] Peter Cornelius composed a cycle of six songs related to Christmas themes he called Weihnachtslieder. Setting his own poems for solo voice and piano, he alluded to older Christmas carols in the accompaniment of two of the songs.

Various notable composers have written instrumental works for Christmas, including Antonio Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto RV270 “Il Riposo per il Santissimo Natale” (“For the Most Holy Christmas”) and the Christmas Concerto (1690) by Arcangelo Corelli. Other classical works associated with Christmas include:

  • Pastorale sur la naissance de N.S. Jésus-Christ (c. 1670) by Marc-Antoine Charpentier; Christus (1847)
  • an unfinished oratorio by Felix Mendelssohn
  • L’enfance du Christ (1853–54) by Hector Berlioz
  • Oratorio de Noël (1858) by Camille Saint-Saëns
  • The Nutcracker (1892) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  • Fantasia on Christmas Carols (1912) and Hodie (1954), both by Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • A Ceremony of Carols (1942) by Benjamin Britten.

Informal Scratch Messiah performances involving public participation are very popular in the Christmas season. Performances of George Frideric Handel’s oratorio Messiah are a fixture of Christmas celebrations in some countries, and although it was originally written for performance at Easter, it covers aspects of the Biblical Christmas narrative. (by wikipedia)

And here´s a nice collection of classic Christmas compositions.

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Personnel:

Bernhard, Hannes, Wolfgang Läubin, Norbert Schmitt, Simon Preston:

Bernhard Läubin (trumpet)
Hannes Läubin (trumpet)
Wolfgang Läubin (trumpet)
Simon Preston (organ)Timpani
Norbert Schmitt (timpani)

Luciano Pavarotti & The National Philharmonic Orchestra:
Luciano Pavarotti (vocals)
The National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kurt Herbert Adler

Berliner Philharmoniker:
conducted by Herbert von Karajan

Wiener Sängerknaben:
conducted by Uwe Christian Harrer

Wiener Philharmoniker:
conducted by Claudio Abbado

Philharmonia Orchestra:
Bryn Terfel (vocals – Bass on 06.)
Kathleen Battle (vocals on 13.)
conducted by Paul Daniel (on 06.)
conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini (on 13.)

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra:
Edward Brewer (organ)
counducted by Guillermo Figueroa

London Symphony Orchestra:
Cheryl Studer (soprano vocals)
counducted by Ion Marin

Wiener Philharmoniker & Anne-Sophie Mutter:
Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin)
counducted by James Levine

José Carreras – Coral Salvé De Laredo – Sociedad Coral Debilbao:
José Carreras (vocals)
conducted by Damián Sanchez

The Monteverdi Choir & The English Baroque Soloists:
conducted by John Eliot Gardiner

Bryn Terfel & Malcolm Martineau:
Malcolm Martineau (piano)
Bryn Terfel (Baritone)

Dresdner Kreuzchor:
conducted by Matthias Jung

Choir Of St. Paul’s Cathedral & English Chamber Orchestra:
Kiri Te Kanawa (Soprano)
Thelma Owen  (harp)
conducted by Barry Rose

Martha Argerich & Nicolas Economou:
Martha Argerich (piano)
Nicolas Economou (piano)

London Symphony Orchestra & Plácido Domingo:
Plácido Domingo (Tenor)
conducted by Karl-Heinz Loges

Jessye Norman, Daniel Barenboim, Wolfram Christ:
Daniel Barenboim (piano)
Wolfram Christ (viola)
Jessye Norman (Soprano)

The English Concert Choir & The English Concert:
conducted by Trevor Pinnock

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Tracklist:

Bernhard, Hannes, Wolfgang Läubin, Norbert Schmitt, Simon Preston:
01. Sinfonies De Fanfare: Rondeau (Mouret) 1.58

Luciano Pavarotti & TheNational Philharmonic Orchestra:
02. O Holy Night (Minuit Chrétien) (Adam) 4.16

Berliner Philharmoniker:
03. March from  The Nutcracker (Tchaikovsky) 2.22

Wiener Sängerknaben:
04. O Christmas Tree (O Tannenbaum) (Traditional) 1.39

Wiener Philharmoniker:
05. The Sleighride (Die Schlittenfart) (Mozart) 2.33

Philharmonia Orchestra:
06. White Christmas (Berlin) 5.01

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra:
07. Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring (Jesus Bleibet Meine Freude (Bach) 3.26

London Symphony Orchestra:
08. Ave Maria (Gounod/Bach) 2.11

Wiener Philharmoniker & Anne-Sophie Mutter:
09. Méditation From Thais (Massenet) 6.43

José Carreras – Coral Salvé De Laredo – Sociedad Coral Debilbao:
10. The Nativity (Ramirez) 3.58

Bernhard, Hannes, Wolfgang Läubin, Norbert Schmitt, Simon Preston:
11. See, The Conquering Hero Comes (Händel) 3.02

The Monteverdi Choir & The English Baroque Soloists:
12. Jesy, Joy Of Man’s Desiring (Jesus bleibet meine Freude) (Bach) 2.31

Philharmonia Orchestra:
13. Pie Jesu From Requiem (Fauré) 4.06

Berliner Philharmoniker:
14. Christmas Concerto (Corelli) 3.52

Bryn Terfel & Malcolm Martineau:
15. The Three Kings (Die Könige) (Cornelius) 2.37

Dresdner Kreuzchor:
16. Silent Night (Stille Nacht) (Gruber/Mohr) 3.35

Choir Of St. Paul’s Cathedral & English Chamber Orchestra:
17. Ave Maria Op.52/6 D 839 (Schubert) 3.38

Martha Argerich & Nicolas Economou:
18. Dance Of The Reedpipes (Tchaikovsky) 2.12

London Symphony Orchestra & Plácido Domingo:
19. Muñequite Linda (Magic Is The Moonlight) (Grever) 3.50

Jessye Norman, Daniel Barenboim, Wolfram Christ:
20. Geistliches Wiegenlied Op. 91/2 (Brahms) 6.12

The English Concert Choir & The English Concert:
21. Hallelujah from Messiah (Händel) 3.58

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Sergei Prokofiev – Peter And The Wolf (Herbert von Karajan – narrated by Peter Ustinov) (1959)

FrontCover1Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67, a ‘symphonic fairy tale for children’, is a musical composition written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936. The narrator tells a children’s story, while the orchestra illustrates it. It is Prokofiev’s most frequently performed work, and one of the most frequently performed works in the entire classical repertoire. It has been recorded many times.

In 1936, Sergei Prokofiev was commissioned by Natalya Sats, the director of the Central Children’s Theatre in Moscow, to write a musical symphony for children. Sats and Prokofiev had become acquainted after he visited her theatre with his sons several times. The intent was to introduce children to the individual instruments of the orchestra. The first draft of the libretto was about a Young Pioneer (the Soviet version of a Boy Scout) called Peter who rights a wrong by challenging an adult. (This was a common theme in propaganda aimed at children in the USSR at the time.) However, Prokofiev was dissatisfied with the rhyming text produced by Antonina Sakonskaya, a then popular children’s author. Prokofiev wrote a new version where Peter captures a wolf. As well as promoting desired Pioneer virtues such as vigilance, bravery and resourcefulness, the plot illustrates Soviet themes such as the stubbornness of the un-Bolshevik older generation (the grandfather) and the triumph of Man (Peter) taming Nature (the wolf).

Sergej Prokofjew
Prokofiev produced a version for the piano in under a week, finishing it on April 15. The orchestration was finished on April 24. The work debuted at a children’s concert in the main hall of the Moscow Conservatory with the Moscow Philharmonic on 2 May 1936. However, Sats was ill and the substitute narrator inexperienced, and the performance failed to attract much attention.[1][3][4][5] Later that month a much more successful performance with Sats narrating was given at the Moscow Pioneers Palace. The American premiere took place in March 1938, with Prokofiev himself conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall, Boston with Richard Hale narrating. By that time Sats was serving a sentence in the gulag, where she was sent after her lover Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky was shot in June 1937.

Peter, a Young Pioneer, lives at his grandfather’s home in a forest clearing. One day, Peter goes out into the clearing, leaving the garden gate open, and the duck that lives in the yard takes the opportunity to go swimming in a pond nearby. The duck starts arguing with a little bird (“What kind of bird are you if you can’t fly?” – “What kind of bird are you if you can’t swim?”). Peter’s pet cat stalks them quietly, and the bird—warned by Peter—flies to safety in a tall tree while the duck swims to safety in the middle of the pond.

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Peter’s grandfather scolds him for being outside in the meadow alone (“Suppose a wolf came out of the forest?”), and, when he defies him, saying: “Boys like me are not afraid of wolves”, his grandfather takes him back into the house and locks the gate. Soon afterwards “a big, grey wolf” does indeed come out of the forest. The cat quickly climbs into a tree, but the duck, who has jumped out of the pond, is chased, overtaken, and swallowed by the wolf.

IllustrationPeter fetches a rope and climbs over the garden wall into the tree. He asks the bird to fly around the wolf’s head to distract it, while he lowers a noose and catches the wolf by its tail. The wolf struggles to get free, but Peter ties the rope to the tree and the noose only gets tighter.

Some hunters, who have been tracking the wolf, come out of the forest ready to shoot, but Peter gets them to help him take the wolf to a zoo in a victory parade (the piece was first performed for an audience of Young Pioneers during May Day celebrations) that includes himself, the bird, the hunters leading the wolf, the cat, and grumpy grumbling Grandfather (“What if Peter hadn’t caught the wolf? What then?”)

In the story’s ending, the listener is told: “If you listen very carefully, you’ll hear the duck quacking inside the wolf’s belly, because the wolf in his hurry had swallowed her alive.”
Performance directions

Prokofiev produced detailed performance notes in both English and Russian for Peter and the Wolf. According to the English version:

Each character of this tale is represented by a corresponding instrument in the orchestra: the bird by a flute, the duck by an oboe, the cat by a clarinet playing staccato in a low register, the grandfather by a bassoon, the wolf by three horns, Peter by the string quartet, the shooting of the hunters by the kettle drums and bass drum. Before an orchestral performance it is desirable to show these instruments to the children and to play on them the corresponding leitmotivs. Thereby, the children learn to distinguish the sonorities of the instruments during the performance of this tale. (by wikipedia)

And here´s a nive version with the great Peter Ustinov as narrator and Herbert von Karajan as the conductor of The Philharmonia Orchestra.

What a nicy musical fairy tale !

PeterUstinov02

Personnel:
Peter Ustinov (narrator)
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The Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Herbert von Karajan

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Tracklist:
01. Peter And The Wolf (Prokofiev) (Part 1) 14.23
02. Peter And The Wolf (Prokofiev) (Part 2) 14.34
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03. Toy Symphony (Haydn) 11.01

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Herbert von Karajan – Albinoni – Pachelbel – Corelli – Vivaldi (1986)

FrontCover1Some reviews about this album:

I confess I should not probably enjoy this disc as much as do, especially rich orchestral treatments romantically projected by Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, but what performances especially the Albinoni taken so slowly and so passionately.

Gave him full rating as I am very found of music by Albinoni. Bought it as a present for my partner who also loves Albinoni’s music.

Very good tho very Germanic performances… the Albinoni adagio almost unrecogniseable at such a sedate tempo… but still interesting.

I bought two CDs, both of which included Albinoni’s Adagio. I love this piece and wish I could remember which version I had had in previous times on album. I know its written for organ, but really hate the sound of it! Someone should record it and substitute another instrument.This version of Adagio seems slower, but well recorded.
Thoroughly enjoyed listening to this, bought because I heard the music playing when running an E Advent calendar. Perfect for background music.Lovely version of Pachelbel’s Canon.

These great compositons were recorded between 1970 – 1972.

BookletBackCover1Personnel:
Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Herbert von Karajan

Booklet02ATracklist:

Tomaso Albinoni (+ Remo Giazotto):
01. Adagio, for violin, strings & organ in G minor, T. Mi 26 10.10

Arcangelo Corelli: Concerto Grosso in G minor (“Christmas Concerto”), Op. 6/8:
02. No. 1, Vivace; Grave; Allegro 4.30
03. No. 2, Adagio; Allegro; Adagio 3.48
04. No. 3, Vivace 1.26
05. No. 4, Allegro 1.52
06. No. 5, Pastorale (Largo) 5.12

Antonio Vivaldi: Concerto alla rustica, for strings & continuo in G major, RV 151:
07. Presto 1.10
08. Adagio 1.37
09. Allegro 2.23

Antonio Vivaldi: Violin Concerto, for violin, strings & continuo in E major (“L’amoroso”), RV 271:
10. 1. Allegro 4.21
11. 2. Cantabile 2.24
12. 3. Allegro 4.35

Johann Pachelbel: Canon and gigue, for 3 violins & continuo in D major, T. 337:
13. Canon 4.35
14. Gigue 2.07

Francesco Manfredini: Concerto Grosso in C major, Op. 3/12 “Christmas Pastorale”:
15. Pastorale 5.02
16. Largo 2.57
17. Allegro 2.57

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Herbert von Karajan – Christmas Adagio (1977)

KarajanChristmasAdagioFCThis is a christmas compilation of maestro Herbert von Karajan recorded betwenn the years 1968 – 1977.
Enjoy these wonderful compositions from the baroque era of classic music.You don´t have to believe in God to feel the spiritual dimensions of this music.


Personnel:
Berliner Symphony Orchestra conducted by Herbert von Karajan

KarajanChristmas Adagio-back
Tracklist:

Guiseppe Torrelli: Christmas concerto op. 8 no. 6 (9.17)
01. Grave – Vivace 3.47
02. Laego 3.40
03. Vivace 1.50

Ottorino Respighi:
04. Siciliana (from Ancient airs and dances for lute) 3.39

Francesco Manfredini: Christmas Concerto op.3 No. 12 (10.57)
05. Pastorale (Largo) 5.01
06. Largo 2.58
07. Allegro 2.58

Georg Friedrich Haendel:
08. Musette (from Concerto grosso op. 6 no. 6) 7.36

Pietro Locatelli: Concerto grosso op. 1 no. 8 (19.44)
09. Largo – Grave 3.44
10. Vivace 1.32
11. Grave 2.09
12. Largo Andante 5.14
13. Andante 2.23
14. Pastoral – Andante 4.42

Arcangello Corelli: Christmas concerto op 8. no. 8 (16.44)
15. Vivace – Grave – Allegro 4.32
16. Adagio – Allegro – Adagio 3.49
17. Vivace 1.26
18. Allegro 1.53
19. Pastorale (Largo) 5.04

Franz Xaver Gruber:
20. Silent Night 2.57

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Anne-Sophie Mutter – Herbert von Karajan & Berliner Philharmoniker – Violinkonzerte · Violin Concertos No.3 + No.5 (1978)

FrontCover1Grammy Award winning violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter was born in Rheinfelden in Baden (Germany). She embarked on inter¬national career as a soloist in 1976 at the Lucerne Festival and made her first recording for Deutsche Grammophon at the age of 14: Mozart violin concertos with Karajan and Berliner Phil¬harmoniker, with whom she later also recorded the Mendelssohn, Bruch, Brahms and Beethoven.

Mozart’s canonical violin concertos are works of youth. Even though Einstein’s demarcation still stands – there is a qualitative gap between the first two and the final three – all five of them are not dissimilar in their emotional brief. It is a tragedy that K 470 is lost to eternity other than the four bars in Mozart’s Catalogue. Oh, to have heard him in this domain at the floodtide of his powers!

The jungle holds many mysteries. Will we ever understand what prompted Claudio Abbado, the former Principal Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic no less, to go rogue and hobble around with the period practice wolf-pack and all to no vivid end? Was it the onset of senescence or a Lear-like madness? I recently re-listened to his Mozart: The 5 Violin Concertos. Heavens to betsy! When Mozart is being re-promulgated as a Dresden China figurine at a lower pitch or, to use a more modern metaphor, as Mozart Zero with no added sugar or fat – just one calorie, baby – surely the Day of the Locust is upon us. Omega Men, step forward!

It is a blessed relief to turn to this famous recording. Even after all these decades, it continues to astound. The young soloist plays fierily and poetically in turns. My celebrated Herbie soup-o-meter did not beep once for its duration. The Berlin Philharmonic, judiciously scaled down, is galvanised by the endeavour. Oh, listen to the deified double basses of this once-great ensemble as they ruminate expansively at 7’11” ff in the Adagio of K 219 – this is opulence. Indeed, both works momentarily appear to be greater than what they are. The warm analogue recording has been enhanced by the latest remastering.

Considering ASM’s penchant for older men, it is not a bad thing that Eliette von Karajan stood in the wings for these recording sessions, paint-brush in hand. If Abaddon, the Archangel of the Abyss, has a consort, she can be readily imagined . . . .

Longevity has been accrued by this endeavour. I cannot say the same for a certain mangy old wolf in this domain whose ululations will soon be lost to the winds. (by Bernard Michael O’Hanlon)

KarajanMutter1978Personnel:
Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin)
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Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Herbert von Karajan

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Violin Concerto No.3 In G, K.216:
01. Allegro 10.46
02. Adagio 9.51
03. Rondo (Allegro) 6.40

Violin Concerto No.5 In A, K.219:
04. Allegro aperto 10.50
05. Adagio 10.57
06. Rondeau (Tempo di minuetto) 9.24

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