Don't get me wrong - variety is one of music's greatest attributes and record labels are free to release whatever they deem worthwhile. In addition, some of pop's greatest recordings are cover versions. But personally, this is the one time of year that I don't want to hear traditional songs torn down and rebuilt beyond any recognition. Some things just don't make sense a punk version of "O Holy Night" is among them. If you feel jaded by the state of Christmas music, Telarc Records has released two holiday recordings that will scratch your itch and reduce your stress level. Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker: Favorite Selections and Christmas Break will appeal to classical enthusiasts and novices alike.
Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker: Favorite Selections finds the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra - led by maestro Erich Kunzel - interpreting the songs of the popular holiday ballet. The 22-track collection features songs that listeners will immediately recognize from their childhood exposure to The Nutcracker including "Dance of the Prince and the Sugar-Plum Fairy" and "Waltz of the Snowflakes." In addition, the disc's liner notes give a concise - yet complete - telling of The Nutcracker story.
The compilation Christmas Break blends instrumental and vocal material over 16 tracks. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Boston Symphony Orchestra and Michael Chertock are but a few of the contributing performers that blend favorites including "Angels We Have Heard On High" and "Ave Maria" alongside some lesser-known seasonal compositions. Overall, the disc remains true to its subtitle of "a relaxing classical mix" and keeps the tone joyful and light.
Undeniably, classical music can be an intimidating art form to the most knowledgable of music aficionados. The volume of conductors, symphonies, soloists and musical movements is seemingly endless. But these two releases remind us that enjoyable music is simply that and open-minded listeners will enjoy being introduced and reacquainted to some important and cherished pieces. www.telarc.com