Audio Mixer: Gary Gray .
Recording information: Humbercrest United Church.
Canada's Quartetto Gelato is not a string quartet but a flexible ensemble that can include anything from tenor vocals to a musical saw. An accordion frequently plays an important role in the sound and lends the music a Romani tinge. As the name indicates, there's something fundamentally whimsical about the group's music, and Christmas songs are an odd choice for them. The Magic of Christmas can't quite decide whether it wants to be cheeky or old-world lyrical, and the result is misfires such as the pointlessly bouncy versions of White Christmas (track 1) and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (track 6). But Quartetto Gelato is never even close to dull, and the successes are equally numerous: the unique and sweet version of The Christmas Song, taking it back to the confines of an Eastern European cafe, ca. 1920, or the selections from the Nutcracker, cleverly boiled down to quartet size. Corelli's Christmas Concerto brings the balance between traditional classical repertory and popular song that has been present on the other Quartetto Gelato albums; it, too, is inventively transferred to this format. Probably fans of the group and its attitude will find The Magic of Christmas delightful, but those in search of general Christmas music, or those who want to get to know Quartetto Gelato for the first time, might sample before buying.~James Manheim