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83 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great bargain, good performances
I have a fairly extensive collection of classical music, and Christmas music as well. This compilation, featuring mostly little known groups, is charming. Yes, one can find better performances of many of these works, but that quest is only for the obsessive audiophile. The choral works are recorded clearly. One problem I've often had with recording by excellent groups...
Published on December 11, 2009 by Virginia music lover

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad
This Christmas album is a nice set of classical music, though perhaps 50% of it is not actually Christmas music. So it is nice to listen to, and for the $1.99 I got it for, not a bad deal all around. though I wouldn't call it "essential" in any way.
Published 24 months ago by Jo M. Coleman


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83 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great bargain, good performances, December 11, 2009
By 
Virginia music lover "cossack" (northern Virginia United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The 99 Most Essential Christmas Masterpieces (Amazon Exclusive) (MP3 Music)
I have a fairly extensive collection of classical music, and Christmas music as well. This compilation, featuring mostly little known groups, is charming. Yes, one can find better performances of many of these works, but that quest is only for the obsessive audiophile. The choral works are recorded clearly. One problem I've often had with recording by excellent groups such as the King's College Choir is that they sound like they were recorded in a cathedral (and perhaps they were) so there is a lot of music and enunciation lost in the reverberation. There are a few instances where I wish the tempos were faster, but on the other hand this is a set to listen to while relaxing around the fire. A nice bonus -- the music from the Nutcracker features lots of the lesser known (but still beautiful) tunes, not just the ones one normally hears in a suite. And the inclusion of the more serious classical pieces by Bach, Corelli, etc., is fitting and a great addition.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice mix of Christmas and sacred classics plus orchestrated carols, November 7, 2010
This review is from: The 99 Most Essential Christmas Masterpieces (Amazon Exclusive) (MP3 Music)
This is a fine collection -- some of it genuine classical music written in celebration of the holiday, some of it traditional and popular Christmas music arranged for orchestras, choirs and the like.

There are also a number of tracks that really had nothing to do with Christmas originally, but still manage to stake a claim to the Christmas theme. These are mainly selections from sacred works whose lyrics, often in Latin, refer to the birth of Jesus Christ in various ways -- such as Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus", César Franck's "Panis Angelicus", and many others featured here.

Finally, a few tracks have no claim on Christmas at all -- like Bach's Third Brandenburg Concerto, Pachelbel's Canon in D Major, or a selection from Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons". But no matter, these are good pieces that still fit adequately into the general mood of the set.

With only a few exceptions (such as a below par performance of Bach's "Air on a G String"), these are very good performances in good quality sound.

The track listing indicates that tracks 9-26 are the Nutcracker Suite (Op 71a), but it really these are the full Nutcracker Ballet (Op 71). These are the same recordings featured by the X5 group on its Tchaikovsky set, so if you have that one you'll be getting some duplication here. The same can be said for people with some of the collections of Baroque music, or of composers like Bach or Vivaldi.

For me, the bona fide classical tracks are more successful than the carols that have been dressed up for orchestra and chorus. The latter can sound very sugary in a way that music composed for classical performance usually does not. But that is a matter of personal taste, and yours may be different.

As with all these "99 Most Essential" sets from X5, bitrates are variable. Average rates for the tracks vary between 155 and 256 kbps, but only a handful are below 200 kbps. This collection is shorter than most of the sets in the series, at just 5 hours and 56 minutes. Total download size is "only" 582 MB.

I am always glad to expand my Christmas music collection, and this set is a terrific bargain at the special offer price. Recommended.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Collection!, December 7, 2009
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This review is from: The 99 Most Essential Christmas Masterpieces (Amazon Exclusive) (MP3 Music)
I stumbled on this collection and decided I would give it a try. I love it! There are songs for everyone. It's great background music for a Christmas party and it includes so many wonderful carols. Perfect for when you get tired of hearing the same old songs on the radio.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great classical tunes at an even better price, December 8, 2009
By 
B. W. (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The 99 Most Essential Christmas Masterpieces (Amazon Exclusive) (MP3 Music)
I have lots of vocal, jazzy, and acoustic holiday tunes, but not a lot of serious classical recordings. This is a great collection at a great price. Thanks, Amazon!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas Came Early!, November 9, 2010
This review is from: The 99 Most Essential Christmas Masterpieces (Amazon Exclusive) (MP3 Music)
For me at least - getting this collection at just under two bucks. I was afraid that all of the selections would be esoteric classical which was related to the Christmas season, but not readily recognizable. But no, there are many popular and well-known pieces here (albeit performed by choir and symphony), as well as pieces that are more purely classical and will amount to happy discoveries, or pleasant underscore to holiday gatherings.

At this price I'm simply going to have to give a few extra bucks to the next Salvation Army bellringer I encounter so I don't feel like I'm stealing. Seriously, folks - this is like six HOURS of well-recorded music for the price of a (small) cup of coffee. How can you possibly go wrong?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Selection Of Great Music, December 10, 2009
By 
AFRED "Allyka" (San Francisco, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The 99 Most Essential Christmas Masterpieces (Amazon Exclusive) (MP3 Music)
This is not party music. This is not shop till drop music. it is music to remind you of what a previous reviewer referred to as "the glory" of the holiday season. Wonderful selection
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For the price, it's incredible!, December 13, 2010
By 
Jerome Szpila (Pittsburgh, PA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The 99 Most Essential Christmas Masterpieces (Amazon Exclusive) (MP3 Music)
For just $1.99, these 99 tracks are a no-brainer for a lover of Classical Christmas music.

There are a few duds among the tracks. Think about it - if you delete even HALF of the songs, you are still only paying $0.04 a song. That's amazing.

Yes, you may not find your favorite rendition of most Christmas songs on this album, but it's still a nice collection, particularly for people who don't have a lot of Classical Christmas music, or for those who want a variety of Christmas music.

The Good Stuff:
- There's a wide variety of classical music on here - including some stuff that most people don't have in their collections. It's very diverse
- There are choral tracks by ROBERT SHAW (with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus). To the person who blasted this collection based upon "unknown artists," Robert Shaw is one of the greatest and most prolific choir conductors out there. His choral ensembles always produce high quality choral recordings. The Atlanta Symphony Chorus tracks (with him at the lead) are all excellent. And there's 9 of them...so just those alone are more than worth the price of the album.
- The price. I've got to say it again. The price. It works out to $0.02 a song.

The Bad Stuff:
- Why is only about half of the Nutcracker included? It would have been nice to include the full thing instead of a "Best of." That could have allowed for some of the bogus tracks to be cut.
- Some of the choral tracks are not of the highest quality - mostly the Oxford St. Peter's Choir
- There's some classical stuff that's not Christmas at all

Overall: Come on, it's $1.99 for 99 tracks! Even if you take out the poor choral recordings (about 20 alltogether), the non-Christmas classical stuff (no more than 20 tracks) and a few other ones that are not of your personal preference...you are still getting a lot of good music for a low price. What's there not to like?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Keeper, December 8, 2010
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This review is from: The 99 Most Essential Christmas Masterpieces (Amazon Exclusive) (MP3 Music)
I honestly expected to delete a lot of this collection. To my most pleasant surprise, I've culled perhaps two tracks. There are some delightful choral pieces, especially the older recordings, and a lot of lesser-known works. All in all, a great addition to my Christmas collection, and I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to have this playing in the background at any Christmas gathering.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Essentials!, December 14, 2009
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This review is from: The 99 Most Essential Christmas Masterpieces (Amazon Exclusive) (MP3 Music)
5 bucks to finish my Christmas playlist! I plan on downloading this to my mp3 player and giving the music to my family on Christmas Eve. I already have a good playlist, but this adds all the pieces I was missing. GOOD BARGAIN!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Classical Christmas collection, November 30, 2009
By 
Sarah (San Carlos, CA, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The 99 Most Essential Christmas Masterpieces (Amazon Exclusive) (MP3 Music)
This is an excellent compilation, and a nice mix of vocal and instrumental pieces. I highly recommend adding it to your collection.
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