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If On A Winter's Night...

3.8 out of 5 stars 299 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 26, 2009
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Product Description

2009 release from the multi-million selling singer, songwriter, musician and former leader of The Police. This release is dedicated to Sting's favorite season, Winter: a season which has inspired countless songwriters over the centuries and produced a wealth of music exploring all of its many guises. If On a Winter's Night... presents an arc of songs that conjures the season of spirits, resulting in a haunting, spiritual and reflective musical journey. ''The theme of winter is rich in inspiration and material,'' comments Sting; ''by filtering all of these disparate styles into one album, I hope we have created something refreshing and new.''

About the Artist

Composer, singer, actor, activist - Sting has won universal acclaim in all these roles, but he defies easy labeling. He's best described as an adventurer, a risk-taker. As he himself said, "I love to put myself in new situations. I'm not afraid to be a beginner." Husband and father of six, masterful guitarist and bassist, and also a devoted Yoga practitioner, he's made a career, in fact, of new beginnings.

A milkman's son from Newcastle, England, Sting was a teacher, soccer coach and ditchdigger before turning to music. Inspired equally by jazz and the Beatles (eclectic tastes that would prove prophetic), he met Stewart Copeland and they, along with guitarist Andy Summers, formed the Police in 1977. The band quickly became a success both in the UK and U.S. scoring several No. 1 hits including "Roxanne," "Every Breath You Take," "King of Pain," and "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic." They earned five Grammy Awards and two Brits, and in 2003 the band was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The trio's live work forecast the astonishing inventiveness and range of influences that Sting would realize fully in his solo career.

With the release of Dream of the Blue Turtles in 1985, followed by Bring On The Night, Nothing Like The Sun, The Soul Cages, Ten Summoner's Tales, Mercury Falling, Brand New Day and All This Time, Sting has evolved into one of the world's most distinctive and highly respected performers, collecting as a solo performer an additional 11 Grammys, 2 Brits, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, three Oscar nominations, Billboard Magazine's Century Award, and MusiCares 2004 Person of the Year.

He has appeared in 15 films, Executive Produced the critically acclaimed, "A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints," and in 1989 starred in a Broadway play the "Threepenny Opera".

Also an accomplished author, Sting published a memoir entitled "Broken Music" in 2003, which spent 13 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Most recently, he released "Lyrics"- a comprehensive collection of lyrics and personal commentary, also featuring photographs from throughout his career.

Sting's support for human rights organization like the Rainforest Foundation, Amnesty International, and Live Aid mirrors his art in its universal outreach. Along with wife Trudie Styler, Sting founded the Rainforest Foundation in 1989 to protect both the world's rain forests and the indigenous peoples who live there. Together, they have raised more than $25 million dollars with their 15 benefit concerts to raise funds and awareness of our planet's endangered resources. Since its inception, the Rainforest Foundation has expanded to a network of interconnected organizations working in 23 countries around the globe

Sting has remained at the forefront of the public consciousness for 4 decades and has written some of the most enduring songs of our time, a talent perfectly showcased by his record Sacred Love, released to both critical and commercial success. Recently, Sting ventured into "new" musical territory with an album featuring the music of acclaimed Elizabethan songwriter, John Dowland (1563-1626) entitled Songs From the Labyrinth - which debuted at the top of the classical charts in the US, UK, France, Canada & Germany.

In 2007, The Police reformed and embarked on a world tour. This much heralded tour played to over 3.7 million people on five continents and ranked as the third highest grossing tour of all time. The Police world tour also garnered numerous accolades including 'Major Tour of the Year' (Pollstar), 'Top Selling' and 'Top Tour of the Year' (Billboard) as well as the People's Choice award for 'Favorite Reunion Tour of 2007.'

Sting's forthcoming album, If on a Winter's Night... to be released this Fall on Deutsche Grammophon, presents an arc of songs that conjure the season of spirits, featuring a collection of carols and lullabies spanning the centuries, resulting in a haunting, spiritual and reflective musical journey. In collaboration with esteemed producer and arranger, Robert Sadin, Sting is joined by friend and long time colleague, guitarist Dominic Miller - and an ensemble of three remarkable musicians from Northern England and Scotland: Kathryn Tickell (fiddle and Northumbrian pipes) Julian Sutton (melodean) and Mary MacMaster (metal string Scottish harp). Additional guest artists include Vincent Ségal (cello), Daniel Hope (violin), Chris Botti (trumpet), Ibrahim Maalouf (trumpet), Stile Antico (vocal ensemble), Cyro Baptista (percussion), Bijan Chemirani (percussion) and the Webb Sisters (vocals).

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 26, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca U.S.
  • ASIN: B002H3F7F6
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (299 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,962 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
First, a response to faulty information in other reviews:
1) This is not supposed to be a Christmas album - it is a Winter album, meaning the style and lyrical content pertain to the things of Winter, including Christmas but not dwelling on it. Another great recording of this kind, for example, is "Voices of Winter" by Herdman, Hills and Mangsen.
2) Some reviewers whine about Gordon Sumner's (Sting's) vocal performance here. The tone and vocal style of this album are clearly connected to Sting's "Songs from the Labyrinth," for which he did lots of historical research to achieve the style of vocal performances originally used in 17th century British song. If you can't handle being transported through music to this time and place, this album isn't for you. And try to listen to it on a good stereo system, not ear-buds or cheap car speakers.
3) It is posited that only hardcore Sting fans could like this recording. I am not a hardcore Sting fan and I think it is the best work he's ever done. I also enjoy his work with the Police and certain selections from his solo catalog, but they each have their own appeal and should be evaluated on their own merits. I like this recording because the quality musicianship and "live" feel transcend contemporary holiday music muck (such as Robert Zimmerman's (Bob Dylan's) recent mistake of an album). It has a rustic vibrancy enveloped in a haunting winter fog, vividly suggesting the British Isles or Scandinavian mountains in midwinter.
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Contrary to Dylan's slapstick Christmas In the Heart, this is a serious work of reverent and inspired musicianship.

About half of the fifteen songs celebrate what Sting describes as the "magical elements" of Christmas. The rest are more generally seasonal in focus. As Sting explains in the very comprehensive liner notes, "...we are gathered here to celebrate and explore the music of Winter, the season of frosts and long dark nights".

And yes - the otherworldly mood of winter is conjured up as seven musicians "wrapped in scarves and coats" collaborate and improvise with uncommon excellence.

Traditional instruments, Celtic overtones, and the voice of the former Police lead vocalist now sounding decidedly choral, come together to warm the heart in a most surprising way.

I particularly like Soul Cake, with background vocals by the Webb Sisters (the sublime Webb Sisters according to Leonard Cohen), which weaves the melody of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen into the music of Paul Stookey. Gabriel's Message with haunting horn work by Ibrahim Maalouf, and Sting's own The Hounds of Winter are other standouts.

The low points for me are Cold Song and Now Winter Comes Slowly, the two pieces with music by baroque composer Henry Purcell. Sting reaches, but clearly can't pull off the basso profondo needed to do justice to these works.

Nevertheless this is a very good CD that I'll be going back to time and time again, even though it clearly isn't what Sting fans might expect from the erstwhile rocker. Interestingly, the iTunes database identifies the genre as "pop". It's decidedly not...

Notwithstanding Sting's disclaimer as to his agnosticism, this is a profoundly spiritual work. As he writes, "...the sacred symbolism of the Church's art still exerts a powerful influence over me".

Indeed. As he put it many years ago when writing for the Police, "We are spirits in the material world"...
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Format: Audio CD
The liner notes are really good. Sting explains that winter is his favorite season and he deliberately stayed away from holly-jolly merry Christmas songs. The photos are also awesome, particularly a scene of all the musicians gathered around a bank of candles playing their instruments. That sets the mood of the piece - rather quiet, introspective and kinda gloomy. Also on many of the numbers Sting does this really weird thing with his voice, like he stayed up all night smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey.

Several years ago Sting contributed a version of Gabriel's Message to one of the Very Special Christmas CDs for the Special Olympics. The version on this CD is vastly inferior.

I did like Soul Cake, which I remember from the Peter Paul & Mary Christmas CD many years ago. Also You Only Cross My Mind in Winter, where Sting adds lyrics to a Bach piece. Christmas At Sea, which is a Robert Louis Stevenson poem set to a traditional Gaelic song, is pretty good.

The musicianship is extraordinary. Sting's vocals, not so much. It seems like a good CD to hunker down with in January, when the wind is howling and Christmas is over and you're already pretty depressed. It sure isn't like any other Christmas CD you have in your library.
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Format: Audio CD
I really disagree with the other reviewers who slam this cd. This is a reflective mellow winter cd. It's not Sting singing Roxanne for the millionth time. The songs have a certain wintry feel to them. I particulary like the songs Gabriel's Message, Soul Cake, The Snow It Melts the Soonest. Great photos and notes also.

If you want a Police cd or a Sting pop cd don't buy this. If you want a winter cd to sit next to the fire while drinking hot tea...then buy this.
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