As I've mentioned each year, one of my 3 or 4 favorite holiday albums is Christmas Goes Baroque, performed by the CSSR State Philharmonic Orchestra (from Czechoslovakia), conducted by Peter Breiner, who did the magnificent, thoughtful arrangements.
What the album does is take popular Christmas songs and arrange them in the style of Baroque composers, in particular Bach, Handel and Vivaldi. Not only are the arrangements lush and vibrant, but the performances are utterly elegant. It gives new life to songs you heard many hundreds of time, and even gives the sense that if these songs weren't actually written during Baroque times...they should have been.
What's remarkable about the arrangements is that they not only don't sound like merely amusing pastiches, but they sound...right.
Thanks to the success of Christmas Goes Baroque, Breiner (who now lives in New York) arranged and recorded two follow-up holiday albums, both a joy -- Christmas Goes Baroque II and A Christmas Choral Spectacular. (For those interested, the links take you to Amazon. And you can find the original gem, Christmas Goes Baroque here.)
In the past, I've posted Mr. Breiner's wonderful arrangements of "Jingle Bells" and "White Christmas" (which remarkably he's made sound like Bach's "Air on a G-String," which could can -- and should, it's that fascinating and good -- check it out here.) This year, we'll go with his elegant and lovely version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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