Almost totally lacking in Christmas standards, and the few that are there in highly unusual arrangements, this disc may be an ideal choice if you have heard the standards a few hundred times too many.
Featuring excellent performances from The Toronto Children's Chorus, members of The Toronto Symphony, and special guest star, tenor Ben Heppner (in top form), The program is very entertaining.
Whether or not you like the disc may depend on how much you like the largest work, a mini Christmas opera or pageant called THE LAST STRAW by Ruth Watson Henderson. Ben Heppner, very far indeed from his Wagner and Strauss roles, plays an aged camel who is carrying presents for the baby Jesus. Loaded up with treasures, he is barely able to walk, but is too conceited to admit defeat. A small child asks him to carry a single straw for Jesus' bed. Although the camel complains about his Sciatica a few too many times, this work is ultimately very moving, and not without a certain sense of humor.
The sound recording is excellent and there are full texts.
It is to be lamented that the CBC label is apparently no longer making discs. Snap them up while you can.