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December Celebration: New Carols by Seven American Composers / Lisa Delan, sop.; Lester Lynch, bar.; Volti Chorus; New Century CO; Dawn Harms

Album Summary

>Adamo, Mark : The Christmas Life, for chorus & chamber orchestra
>Heggie, Jake : On the Road to Christmas, for soprano & string orchestra
>Morris, Joan : Neighbors on this frosty tide, carol
>Garner, David : Three Carols, for soprano, baritone, oboe, frame drum & strings
>Woolf, Luna Pearl : How Bright the Darkness, for baritone, treble chorus, harp, percussion & strings
>Getty, Gordon : Four Christmas Carols, for female chorus & chamber orchestra
>Corigliano, John : Christmas at the Cloisters, for chorus (or voice) & piano (from "The Cloisters")
>Gruber, Franz : Silent Night
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composers

Notes & Reviews:

December holds in its hands many worlds of celebration as the month unfolds with Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas and the eve of the New Year. Over the centuries a great deal of music has marked this time of year, but very little has been added to the canon in recent decades. Gordon Getty inspired us with his composition of delightful new Christmas carols to invite a group of American composers to celebrate the season in music. The resulting New Carols by Seven American Composers, a rich and tuneful recording of new holiday classics for all to share with their friends and families, features the work of Mark Adams, Jake Heggie, Joan Morris and William Bolcom, David Garner, Luna Pearl Woolf, John Corigliano, and Gordon Getty, who, in addition to his Four Christmas Carols arranged Franz Gruber's Silent Night for mixed chorus and chamber orchestra, the culminating album track.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Skywalker Sound, San Rafael, California, USA (12/2014).



Reviews

My new holiday favorite
Now here's a good idea. If you're like me and are sick to death of hearing the same old holiday "classics" year after year, then you'll welcome this new release from Pentatone.

December Celebration presents a cohesive program of fresh-sounding, accessible carols by living American composers. And while the musical language might lean a little on the conservative side, these are all well-constructed compositions. There's no dumbing down here. Even the well-known "Silent Night" gets an imaginative -- but wholly appropriate -- re-imagining by Gordon Getty.

One of my personal favorites is "How Bright the Darkeness" by Luna Pearl Wolf. It's a delicately beautiful work, with a similar character to Britten's "Ceremony of Carols."

As with virtually all Pentatone releases, I strongly recommend purchasing the SACD version (as opposed to just downloading it). The more detailed the sound, the more beautiful the Volti Chorus seems to sing.

December Celebration will be getting heavy rotation in my personal holiday music playlist.
Submitted on 11/17/15 by RGraves321 
Rejoice! new carols!
I will start by being pedantic, and point out that only a few of the selections on this disc are actually carols in the strict sense. What we really have here is a series of art songs and choruses on holiday and winter themes, all by living American composers, and offering a wide variety of musical responses to their texts. Two soloists (soprano Lisa Delan and baritone Lester Lynch), a small choir, a chamber orchestra and keyboards are guided by conductor Dawn Harms. The arrangements are probably the least successful items on the program, but there were other items I immediately went back to play again. The Bolcom and Morris contribution “Neighbors on this frosty tide” (a real carol, I’d say) sounds as though you’ve known it all your life; “O magnum mysterium” by David Garner alternates a driving refrain with more lyrical verses. The booklet has all the words, which only leaves room for little photos of the composers and performers. The sound can change from track to track—depending on the forces involved—but it’s not a major distraction, and the collection is one that you may not want to hide away until next Christmas comes.
Submitted on 02/22/16 by Jim D. 
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Works Details

>Adamo, Mark : The Christmas Life, for chorus & chamber orchestra
  • Conductor: Dawn Harms
  • Ensemble: Musicians of the New Century Chamber Orchestra
  • Running Time: 3 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1962

>Heggie, Jake : On the Road to Christmas, for soprano & string orchestra
  • Performer: Lisa Delan (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Dawn Harms
  • Running Time: 14 min. 47 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Christmas

>Morris, Joan : Neighbors on this frosty tide, carol
  • Performer: Steven Bailey (Piano)
  • Conductor: Dawn Harms
  • Running Time: 1 min. 48 sec.

>Garner, David : Three Carols, for soprano, baritone, oboe, frame drum & strings
  • Performers: Lisa Delan (Soprano); Lester Lynch (Baritone)
  • Conductor: Dawn Harms
  • Running Time: 14 min. 26 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Christmas

>Woolf, Luna Pearl : How Bright the Darkness, for baritone, treble chorus, harp, percussion & strings
  • Performer: Lester Lynch (Baritone)
  • Conductor: Dawn Harms
  • Running Time: 7 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Vocal

>Getty, Gordon : Four Christmas Carols, for female chorus & chamber orchestra
  • Conductor: Dawn Harms
  • Running Time: 7 min. 45 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Christmas

>Corigliano, John : Christmas at the Cloisters, for chorus (or voice) & piano (from "The Cloisters")
  • Performer: Lester Lynch (Baritone)
  • Conductor: Dawn Harms
  • Running Time: 2 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1965

>Gruber, Franz : Silent Night
  • Conductor: Dawn Harms
  • Running Time: 3 min. 42 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 1818