Christmas music around the world
With close to four dozen Christmas CDs in my collection, I look forward to hauling out the holiday discs every December. Here are 14 of my favorite CDs, provided by artists from around the world. I’ll start on the West Coast and head east. You may be surprised at some of their birth places!
Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia : Diana Krall Christmas Songs. A dozen songs, featuring the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, including Winter Wonderland and Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep (made famous by Perry Como).
Tacoma, Washington: Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” Fifteen songs, including the title song and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
San Francisco, California: Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The original soundtrack from the popular TV show, featuring the famous Peanuts characters.
Salt Lake City, Utah: Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s “The Wonder of Christmas.” Sixteen songs, featuring soloists Renee Fleming, Angela Lansbury, Audra McDonald, Frederica von Stade and Bryan Terfel.
Omaha, Nebraska: Mannheim Steamroller’s “A Fresh Aire Christmas.” This was the first Christmas CD I bought, and the 12 tracks were recorded in Omaha, Chicago and London.
Texas City, Texas: Charles Brown’s “Cool Christmas Blues.” Eleven songs include Merry Christmas Baby and Bringing In A Brand New Year.
Montgomery, Alabama: Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song.” Nineteen song include the title song (“Chestnuts roasting by an open fire”), in both the 1961 version and a duet with daughter Natalie Cole.
Washington, DC: John Fahey Christmas Guitar. This has 26 songs, and perfect for parties as there are no lyrics on such tunes as What Child is This and Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming.
New York: Tony Bennett’s “The Christmas Album” and Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “The Christmas Attic.” Tony Bennett, who grew up in Queens, deliciously delivers 11 songs that include My Favorite Things and I’ll Be Home For Christmas. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s tunes are all originals; making for a lively Christmas story with music and lyrics.
London, England: Original motion picture soundtrack from love actually. I watch this 2003 movie every year, and as the liner notes read, “Without its music, love actually wouldn’t work at all.” I agree. Seventeen tunes from Joni Mitchell to The Pointer Sisters.
Halle, Germany: George Frederic Handel’s “The Messiah.” I’ve sung this numerous times, and of course I sing along with this CD, which features the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir.
Zurich, Switzerland: Andreas Vollenweider’s “Midnight Clear,” featuring Carly Simon. It also features my friend Max Laesser, playing on such familiar tunes as The Holly and the Ivy and Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.
Votkinsk, Russia: Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite.” It’s the next best thing to seeing Pacific Northwest Ballet’s wonderful production in Seattle.