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on December 21, 2013
Similarly to what another reviewer or two have said, the show was good but could have been better. It's not the fault of the ladies in the show; it was the editing and technical crews who are mostly to blame. I've followed Celtic Woman from the very beginning so I can't help but interject a somewhat more in-depth evaluation than my peers.
There is an incessant compulsion (by Celtic Woman's video editor) to chop the performances into bits, in order to show the people in the audience `singing along', bobbing theirs heads, swaying to the music, clapping, holding sleeping children, smiling, or simply gazing out catatonically, none of which adds anything to the event and seriously impedes the continuity of the show. Over time I have become a little desensitized to this video editing chaos, but it still annoys me because it's so obvious, and the girls in the show deserve better. In this show, which is less than an hour long, there are (by my count) 121 edits taking us to these interjected shots of the audience. That's NOT a typo; it was one hundred and twenty one times in less than an hour! Let me make a point right here. I have been to several of their concerts and NEVER ONCE have I looked around at the people sitting next to me, to watch them singing along or bobbing their heads in tempo with the music. Why should I be forced to, when watching them on TV!
There are also (by my count) 45 shots of director David Downs where he is unquestionably, yet pointlessly, being made the focus of a camera shot. To his credit there are also opportunities when he is fittingly given deserved camera coverage, at points where the piano accompaniment is worthy of being the focal point. But what gives? Why do we need an additional 45 superfluous close-ups?
I'm pleased, (in fact ecstatic!) that they finally moved into the 21st century and produced this show in Blu-ray but why have they gone back to the last century with the hand-held microphones? They did the hand microphone thing in the last show and it really gave the show that `reality TV atmosphere'. This isn't some low budget TV show with people trying to break into the business, these are trained professionals! Stop hiding them behind a microphone!
Well at least this time they didn't splice video from 2 performances (like they did in the Believe DVD). That was a BIG mistake! Even then, they should have known (and probably did) that you can't use audio from one performance and layer in video from another performance if you care about maintaining audio-video continuity. [Well actually you can, but you need the right equipment and sound team, and it's pretty obvious that 'they didn't' when they threw the last DVD together.] The good news on this front is that the audio and video are synchronized properly in this performance.
Also on the plus side ... the audio recording quality was done much better this time around. On their last DVD the ladies were almost being drowned out by the orchestra, backup singers, bagpipes and such. This time we actually get to hear the ladies sing! Furthermore ... for the most part, the song selections, the orchestra, the musical direction, the stage set, the costumes, and even the backup choir were all very acceptable this time around. I reiterate that this show is less than an hour long and as such, there are limitations in the range of material, as to what can be achieved for a show. For this reason there will never be complete agreement on which songs would best represent the endeavor so let's just say they walked the tightrope fairly well. (with one exception. See the note below.*)
Moving on to briefly discuss the changes in the cast, I (personally) think they made an excellent choice picking up Susan McFadden. There have been too many changes to the cast too quickly, and dropping down to 3 singers was a big mistake. The show will never be the same. And ... although all of the ladies through the years have had fantastic voices, as well as each having their own unique persona, Lisa Kelly was the stand out. With Lisa Kelly retired, they lost the best voice they ever had, and when Alex Sharpe left they lost a sparkling stage presence which I've missed until now. Susan has brought the sparkle back.
A special thank you goes out to Meav. Meav was gracious to come back for this Christmas show and she was as enjoyable as always. I wish Meav would stick around (but of course that's not going to happen). Her voice has changed (just a bit) over the years but I like the change.
Now we come to the tough part of my review. You want to know why only three stars, even though I liked it better than their last DVD release. Here is the problem. My DVD player shows it at about 58 minutes. Were the producers afraid the audience couldn't handle a 90 minute show or why did they make the show so short? And remember ... this is a very limited performance, so the added time would not require months and months of added performing stage time.
Okay ... I know others of you are saying it is way more than an hour with the bonus material, and if you think the bonus material is on the same level of entertainment you would be right. But as I see it, all they did was pad out the total playing time by adding some so-called bonus material. The bonus material is somewhat entertaining but not up to the level of the main show and certainly cheaper to produce. Call me suspicious but I wonder if the reason for calling it bonus material is to con PBS viewers (during fund raising time) into thinking they have missed a big chunk of the show and that they therefore need to order the DVD to see the rest, where in fact they really haven't missed much of anything.
I will end (as neutrally as I can) by simply saying, It was a nice 'little show' with many positive changes, but it was over before it should have been. Where's my other 30 minutes?

* Qualifying what I said at one point above ... I did not care for the rendition of `It Came Upon a Midnight Clear'. It was like jamming a square peg in a round hole. It was neither Celtic nor traditional, so why was it forced into the program? I will take one star off for that alone.

[Please feel free to post comments.]
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on November 30, 2013
The music was fine and enjoyable, but the presentation was horrible. The director/editor let his ego get in the way of showing the viewers what the performers were doing. The program had tremendous performers in terms of talent; the music chosen was very appropriate for the occassion; and the staging and lighting was exceptional. The director/editor showed absolutely no respect for any of these aspects. I was subjected to hard cuts throughout (not one dissolve, roll focus or other appropriate technique). Through every piece there were multiple shots of the audience which was a major distraction. No sensitivity or respect was given to the music or the performers. I retired after 42 years in the TV business directing, operating equipment and videographing. I have seen products better than this coming out of a basic directing class. Celtic Woman is a very talented, professional group performing exceptional music. The next time Celtic Woman puts out another DVD, please choose a director/editor who is professional and will give the show the proper respect it richly deserves.
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on March 8, 2014
Saw this on PBS last December and I really liked it and must say went to Amazon to purchase the blue ray disc of this show and the ladies of Celtic woman are talented and have those sweet angelic voices to sing these beloved Christmas songs in traditional fashion.
Blue ray disc is 1080P quality this is a much see for those who got huge HD flat screens at home and you will be like in front row seat enjoy!
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on April 9, 2014
I would have given a 4 or 5 star rating except for two reasons. This is with the caveat that I enjoyed the original Celtic Woman ensemble. First, while I understand it's an artist prerogative to interpret a song as they feel, I felt the song l "Auld Lang Syne" was butchered. The second reason was that it was unnecessary to see the conductor in every other shot. It was ok to pan occasionally pan to the audience to show how much they're enjoying the performance. But more concentration should have been placed on the performers.
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on November 3, 2013
Wow! Finally, Celtic Woman has given us a DVD in high definition and it is wonderful. The photography in the Blu-Ray version, when compared to that of "Songs From the Heart," is like night and day. The colors and clarity are absolutely awesome. This was long overdue and is well worth the extra cost.. What a pleasure to see Meav back in the cast, she looked and sounded absolutely beautiful. All in all it was a most enjoyable experience with one small exception. This was a Christmas program attended by lots of small children, the songs were Christmas carols, it was a family atmosphere. Whoever talked Mairead into wearing that dress during the first part of the program should be fired. Mairead is my favorite, she is absolutely lovely and I consider her to be the world's greatest musician, however, she does not need to be prancing around the stage with her bare legs showing all the way to her waist in that particular environment. I know her routine requires a costume modification in order to move around the stage freely but the dress she wore in the second half allowed that yet was far more suitable in that Christmas environment. The hit of the show, however, was Susan. She has really blossomed.. What a wonderful performance. And as usual, Lisa was rock solid and beautiful as ever.
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on February 12, 2014
The Celtic Women have voices as I would think the Angels might have! Loved it and play it even when Christmas is over! If you buy it, and enjoy music, you will love it too! PLUS, the ladies are as lovely as their voices, and dress is as pretty!
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on December 12, 2014
Again, some of the most soothing music you ever want to hear. This Celtic Woman ensamble is icredble once again. They must rehearse 24/7 for the music to come out the way it does. The gowns arte beautiful as alwasy and coodos for everyone that works to get the programs up and running. David Downes is a genius to say the least.
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on October 29, 2013
Excellent across the board! Lisa and Chloe arent on this but the new lineup is very good. great family holiday fun!
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on November 10, 2013
It was great to see Celtic Woman's first release on blu ray. The high def. picture was absolutely flawless.. The concert itself the usual pleasure to watch. It was great to see Meav back again with Celtic Woman (for this concert only.) I always felt she had the purest and most beautiful voice of any of the girls, I was very sorry to see her go. Lisa Lambe is becoming one of my all-time favorites, she moves beautifully on stage and is a pleasure to watch. The only Celtic Woman with a better command of the stage was my all-time favorite, the great Lisa Kelly. Susan McFadden is beautiful to look at, sings well with a beautiful smile. She seems almost to glow on stage. Mairead, the last remaining original member, is great as usual: the heart and soul of the group.
The blu-ray covers much of the material from the groups "Home for Christmas" CD last year (except that Chloe was on the CD rather than Meav.) The blu-ray also features a bonus feature with the girls standing around David Downes on the piano talking about and singing their favorite Christmas songs. (it is interesting to watch Susan McFadden respectfully watching as Meav sings her song, you can just tell how much she admires Meav's beautiful voice.) This bonus extra is very enjoyable: it is nice to hear the girls talk about their childhoods.
In conclusion, the girls look stunning (especially in their red dresses,) sound great as usual and the concert is very enjoyable to watch. It also looks so good on hi-def blu-ray that I wish they would re-release the other Celtic Woman concerts as well. I have literally watched their other DVDs probably hundreds of times, it would be great to see these lovely and talented women on blu-ray.
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on January 12, 2014
The heading says it all. With that said, if this was the first CW concert I had ever seen, I would love it. It does miss some of the dynamics and energy and professional sound that Chloë and Lisa brought to the mix. It is a good concert, just not as good as they used to be
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