Audio Mixer: Bill Hare.
Recording information: FWL Studios Leipzig (2009-03-??&2010-06-??&2011-).
Editors: Christopher Tarnow; Danny Ozment.
Photographer: Martin Jehnichen.
The German men's a cappella quintet Amarcord made its reputation singing early music and new music but the group has broadened its repertoire to include jazz and pop songs (in exceptionally inventive arrangements), and its crossover CDs have proved some of its most popular. This album of Christmas songs from around the world is a terrific example of the singers' extraordinarily secure technique, the gleeful spontaneity of their approach to this music, and their skill in producing all kinds of instrumental sounds vocally as well as some strategically placed alternative vocal techniques like throat singing and multiphonics. The singers simply sound like they are having fun. The arrangements press beyond the stylistic conventions of most holiday albums. This may not be the ideal album for traditionalists, but for listeners looking for innovative approaches to standard (and some not-so-standard) Christmas music, these performances should be a delight. The arrangement of Stille Nacht, for instance, is entirely reverent and true to the spirit of the hymn at the same time that its harmonies stray dizzyingly far from the original. Many of the arrangements are colored by very close jazz harmonies that the group negotiates with dazzling precision, and the performances feel entirely free and uninhibited. The group's tonal palette is richly colored and full of character, which these imaginative arrangements fully exploit. The fact that the group includes a genuine basso profondo adds immeasurably to its depth. The sound quality is immaculate, state-of-the-art. ~ Stephen Eddins