CLASSICAL KIDS - A CLASSICAL KIDS CHRISTMAS
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|1. I. The Advent Of Christmas: Christmas On Main Street - The Pageant Begins|
|2. Medley: I. The Advent Of Christmas: O Come Little Children/O Come, O Come, Emmanuel|
|3. Medley: I. The Advent Of Christmas: Huron Carol/O Come All Ye Faithful|
|4. Medley: II. The Kings: Personent Hodie/Kings Came Riding|
|5. Medley: II. The Kings: This Great Day/We Three Kings/The Wise Men Ask the Children the Way|
|6. Medley: III. Gifts For the Baby: Winter, II/We Are the Poor Children|
|7. Medley: III. Gifts For the Baby: What Shall We Bring?/How Far Is It To Bethlehem?|
|8. IV. Saint Nicholas: Jolly Old Saint Nicholas|
|9. Medley: V. Christmas Around The World: O Tannenbaum/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/Swedish Dance|
|10. VI. Christmas Is I'cumin: Christmas Is I'cumin|
|11. VII. Christmas Eve: Christmas Eve Is Here|
|12. Medley: VII. Christmas Eve: Joseph, Dearest/Brahm's Lullaby/Christmas Carol|
|13. Medley: VII. Christmas Eve: Silent Night/The Story Of Silent Night|
|14. VII. Christmas Eve: O Holy Night|
|15. Medley: VII. Christmas Eve: Nutcracker Suite Overture/T'was The Night Before Christmas|
|16. Medley: VIII. The Shepherds: Messiah, Pifa/The Oxen|
|17. Medley: VIII. The Shepherds: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks/O Little Town Of Bethlehem|
|18. Medley: VIII. The Shepherds: What Is This Perfume?/Christmas Carol|
|19. Medley: IX. Christmas Day: Angels We Have Heard On High/Hark The Herald Angels Sing|
|20. IX. Christmas Day: Polish Lullaby|
See all 29 tracks on this disc
This soaring collection of carols and poems is a splendid way for adults to share with children some of the classic tales of Christmas. Mostly narrated by children and sung by the High Park Choirs of Toronto, along with several soloists, these pieces celebrate the birth of Jesus through the stories of the three wise men, the shepherds, the animals at the manger, and through songs of Christmas from around the world. As we hear St. Nicholas say, "Christmas is about giving not getting," this attractively packaged CD contains favorites, including "O Come, All Ye Faithful," "O Holy Night," "Handel's Messiah," and "Away in a Manger." A simple voice and guitar rendition of "Silent Night" is a gift in itself. --Martha Johnson
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With Classical Kids' previous release, "Song of the Unicorn," it was hard to imagine what creator/writer Susan Hammond might come up with next in her forays of digging into the lives of composers such as Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky and making the stories come alive to young listeners. It is, after all, the younger folk of today who will guide the future of great music. It's up to us to see that they get the best.
All of this is said in praise of the latest release from Classical Kids, "A Classical Kids Christmas," an ingenious idea from Susan Hammond, and one that seems to emerge to the world at a time when we truly need the beauty, charm, and inspiration that is contained in the disc's 47 minutes. The Christmas story is told over a background of wonderfully performed traditional carols and music featuring soloists, choirs, and instrumentalists of the highest caliber. One will occasionally find a piece that is not familiar--such as the Polish Lullaby, stunningly sung by Mary Bella, whose voice pours forth in a cathedral of grand magnificence. The High Park Choirs of Toronto, along with the instrumentalists, are in top form.
What amazes me about Susan Hammond's creativity, and what makes her work so magnetic, is the fact that she provides such a variety of music, from Medieval chants to music by Handel and Vivaldi to Tchaikovsky and Brahms, and many others. Hammond was responsible for most of the arrangements and adaptations contained on this disc, and credit is due to Errol Gay for some outstanding choral arranging. The disc is charged with energy that, at once, becomes infectious.
All one needs to do is to paint an image in the mind of an entire town pouring down Main Street, all feeling the joys of the Christmas season, taking in the festive decorations. It is great fun to discover the Medieval myths of how the robin got its red breast! But more, the choices of music, the effectiveness of the actors ... indeed, the entire way this is assembled makes it one of the finest discs of its kind that I have encountered.
Packaging and sound--with an added bonus of a Christmas tree ornament inside the jewel case--are first class. I noted that Manta Eastern Sound under Gary Gray was responsible for the recording, which is impeccably clean and clear.
If I have but one negative, it is the fact that I must wait until Christmastime each year to broadcast this recording. You can be sure it will be heard much more frequently than this by yours truly. As a classical music broadcast, however, this is precisely the kind of recording I would consider broadcasting.
"A Classical Kids Christmas" is highly recommended. It is a great stocking stuffer and will give to children the true meaning of Christmas interspersed with some of the greatest music they will hear.
This release is like a gift to Classical Kids' many fans, and for that, I thank them!
Lance G. Hill
Classical Program Director
Montrose Broadcasting Corporation
Totally incoherent and disconnected story line. There seems to have been some attempt at a narrative background that would pull all of the little elements together. Except that the narrative itself makes no sense and leaps around wildly. It's not clever, creative, funny, heartwarming or any of the other things it *could* have been. It's just, well, stupid.
*Partial* songs and poems -- a fragment here, a chorus there, a stanza standing alone... It annoyed me wildly to begin to enjoy a piece just about the time it faded out for the next fragment to begin (perhaps after another inane bit of narration).
Weak children's voices. Neither my children nor I enjoy listening to warbly children lisp through a song. Perhaps some might find it endearing, but as my ten-year-old said, "Were they not able to hire professional singers?" (There are some adult voices, and the music overall isn't terrible... I'll grant that this objection is largely a matter of taste.)
These mostly come down to *potential*. Overall, I liked the *selections* of songs and poems included in the CD. There's a nice mix of familiar old favorites and some lovely traditional songs and verses that are somewhat less well known. The music itself isn't terrible (if one can get past the stylistic choice to use mediocre child singers and narrators for much of the CD), but the frustration factor of hearing only disjointed *pieces* of songs made it difficult for me to enjoy.
My children and I really had looked forward to listening to this CD. We have enjoyed Mr. Beethoven Lives Upstairs, and Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery from Classical Kids. My kids were introduced to The Magic Flute through the Mozart's Magic Fantasy, and went on to become great fans of the Met's recent English-language production (dir. Julie Taymor) in part because of that introduction.
But I simply can't recommend this CD at all. (And my 10yo son is the one who begged me to write this review, "Mom, you have to *warn* people!")... I wish I had my $15 back...