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128 of 133 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! A full length Christmas album
A MIDWINTER NIGHT'S DREAM is a mix of old and new Christmas songs from Loreena McKennitt. Loreena essentially took A WINTER GARDEN and released it under another name and added eight more songs to create a sumptuous listening experience to put the listener into the Christmas spirit. As a long time fan of Loreena McKennitt's music, A MIDWINTER NIGHT'S DREAM was a must have...
Published on October 30, 2008 by E. Anderson

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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If you have Garden and Cold Winter, you don't need this.
One person's "ethereal trademark sound" is another's "dreary and repetitive." If you think "The Holly and the Ivy" is a dirge, then you'll like this CD; if you think dirges are the same thing as a haunting winter melody, then you and Loreena have likely already met. You will hear all the same songs sung the same way. I loved her Drive the Cold Winter Away. I did not like...
Published 13 months ago by Magdolyn


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128 of 133 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! A full length Christmas album, October 30, 2008
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This review is from: Midwinter Night's Dream (Audio CD)
A MIDWINTER NIGHT'S DREAM is a mix of old and new Christmas songs from Loreena McKennitt. Loreena essentially took A WINTER GARDEN and released it under another name and added eight more songs to create a sumptuous listening experience to put the listener into the Christmas spirit. As a long time fan of Loreena McKennitt's music, A MIDWINTER NIGHT'S DREAM was a must have for this fan. Loreena could have easily put together a cheesy traditional Christmas album of old Christmas standards but she doesn't. Instead she carefully chose which songs she wanted to put on A MIDWINTER NIGHT'S DREAM. There were a few songs that I wasn't familiar but the beauty of the melodies and Loreena's hypnotic vocals made the listening experience very enjoyable. I loved the instrumental "Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle". The melodies had me within seconds. Another wonderful track is "Good King Wenceslas". I think Loreena's version is my personal favorite of all the versions I have heard over the years. I love how the cover art for A MIDWINTER NIGHT'S DREAM is anything but traditional. All of the songs on the album are wondeful. I really do appreciate the fact that Loreena did not opt to make your standard Christmas album with "Silent Night" and "Away in a Manger". That would have been too predictable. Some people might not be happy about it but I'm not one of those people. Once again, Loreena provides for her fans stunning artwork for her cd. I love the uniqueness in the imagery she chose. A MIDWINTER NIGHT'S DREAM is a definite must have for Loreena McKennitt fans. This is one Christmas cd I will be listening to all year round.
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76 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars O Come O Come Emmanuel, November 2, 2008
This review is from: Midwinter Night's Dream (Audio CD)
O Come O Come Emmanuel. What an overwhelming tapestry of sound. The lovely rich combination of Loreena's voice accompanied by Caroline Lavelle on cello and Hugh Marsh's violin has never been more powerful. Over the years Loreena McKennitt has assembled an outstanding group of back-up musicians and they are at their best here. For several years now the Abdelli version of God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen has been a Christmas favourite of mine. Yes, it is repeated here, along with several others, all of them worthy, but there are also many gorgeous new recordings. I just have to tear myself away from Emmanuel long enough to appreciate the others. Believe me, it is not easy.
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Creative, lovely interpretations., November 4, 2008
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This review is from: Midwinter Night's Dream (Audio CD)
Some people bring their own style to old masterpieces and it just ends up sounding goofy, but on this album, McKennitt puts a distinctive stamp on some favorites and gives them fresh life. Several of the songs are so good that I've stopped thinking of this as a holiday CD (I'm an infidel anyway) and just consider it a fine collection of world-influenced music (the temptation is to call it "Celtic," but some of the percussion comes much closer to Middle Eastern, so I'll use the vaguer "world"). As a bonus, I'd be remiss if I didn't compliment the wonderful artwork on the cover and liner notes. I would be thrilled to give (or get) Christmas cards that attractive, and if it's not already, I hope someone thinks to do something more with these paintings--posters, ornaments, something. Really very handsome to look to at.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreams of Peace; Dreams by FireLight, November 23, 2008
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Montague Whitsel (Western Pennsylvania) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Midwinter Night's Dream (Audio CD)
When the music started, I stopped; and I didn't get up again until the last tune had run its course. I was mesmerized, and felt as though I had been taken on a journey through the icons of the Winter Solstcie Season. I was a fan of "A Winter's Garden," and have always wondered what a new full length CD from Ms. Mckennitt would be like; now I know. _And this CD was definitely worth waiting for -- it is a tapestry of poignant emotions, sensual touchstones and richly imbued musical artistry that has not a single cliched "holiday" tune on it. The five pieces from the earlier CD are integrated into a new playlist that does not merely bookend the old line-up with new songs. There are two instrumentals on the CD, ("Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle" and "Breton Carol"), both with interesting instrumentation and arranement. There is an a capella tune -- "Gloucestershire Wassail" that provides an unexpected punctuation in the line-up. The version of "O Come O Come Emmanuel" sung in Latin is full of a joyful melancholy--just as it should be. Overall, I get a deep sense of beauty and peace from the CD, and I imagine I will have many Christmas dreams while listening to it, as the Winter Solstice comes and goes. I highly recommend it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heavenly, November 6, 2008
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This review is from: Midwinter Night's Dream (Audio CD)
I adore Lorenna McKennitt. I started listening to her about 12 years ago and there is no one that even comes close to her. I also love Christmas music. I have just under 100 Christmas CDs and this was my instant favorite. Emmanuel is incredibly simple and incredibly beautiful. Thanks Lorenna. PLEASE keep writing and recording!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Pass This Up, November 18, 2008
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Todd Thorne "laesta" (The Woodlands, TX United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Midwinter Night's Dream (Audio CD)
If you're already a Loreena fan, then you own this CD. If that's not the case yet, it's precisely what you expect and you should buy it when your budget allows.

If this is your first consideration of a work by this artist, then congratulations. You've uncovered an exquisite treasure to be cherished for a long time. By that I mean this amazing talent in general and, more specifically, this particular set of seasonal tunes. Loreena has prepared for you an enriching mix of songs you'll find as delightful as winter's breath stirring a snow drift into a Dervish dance.

This isn't your trendy A-list artist spinning the obligatory set of well-treaded yuletide faves. This isn't the background Musak you'll hear droning at the mall. This isn't the Christmas playlist churned out by the Top 40 radio station. No. You've got something unique here.

This is a luscious melange of pleasing holiday tunes built upon Celtic, Middle Eastern and other worldly instrumentals and rhythms and buoyed by Loreena's heaven-gifted voice. It's a sumptuous set of ear-candy for you, your family, and your holiday guests to enjoy.

Add this CD to your collection. Give it a try these winter months. Then see if you aren't ready to acquire more of Loreena's works. Be prepared for a musical journey that's nothing less than magical.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen!, November 6, 2008
This review is from: Midwinter Night's Dream (Audio CD)
If you have not yet heard "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by Loreena McKennitt then you are MISSING OUT! It will always be one of the best Christmas songs out there. It's pure classic, the only version of the song you'll ever need.

As far as the rest of the album, there's definately some more hits.. and some misses.

"Good King Wenceslas" has a really great renaissance feel, "Snow" has entrancing vocals behind a wintery, snowblown orchestra. "Coventry Carol" sounds like the perfect dramatic song to accompany a church performance of the nativity story.

All of the tracks are pretty good of course (with a voice like Loreena's, it can't go too wrong) but none of the other tracks are stand-out worthy like those four. If you already have one of Loreena's mini-christmas albums I honestly don't think you need this one, but if you don't have a winter CD by Loreena you need to get this NOW!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fitting holiday feast for both your eyes and ears, November 13, 2008
This review is from: Midwinter Night's Dream (Audio CD)
Loreena McKennitt is not just a talented musician, she's given us quite a generous Christmas gift. In these days of iTunes and your standard 10-song CD with 40 minutes' worth of music, she's brought out a Bakers' Dozen songs for a Christmas feast for both your ears and eyes.

This 54-minute CD is comprised of a lot of the traditionals you'd expect with McKennitt's signature world-infused flair. Part Celtic-part Middle Eastern, these carols don't sound anything like the retreaded redux you hear so often on each year's crop of Christmas CDs. You really never know whether you're going to hear pipes and accordion or sitar on the next tune and the listen is a very pleasant surprise.

If you like traditionals with a different flair, Celtic-Middle Eastern world music, or just plain beautiful orchestration, you're going to enjoy this CD. It's so good, you'll want to dust it off when Christmas music is the last thing on your mind!

Rebecca Kyle, November 2008
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Audio and Video Loreena Treat !, November 12, 2008
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jr_Tech (Portland OR. area) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Midwinter Night's Dream (Audio CD)
This gift-boxed set contains not only the new well-received CD "A Midwinter Nights Dream", but also includes a one hour DVD video "A Moveable Musical Feast". The video reveals the "behind the scenes" activity during the 2007 "An Ancient Muse" tour, and includes new complete* performance video of 3 songs:

The Gates of Istanbul
The Highwayman
Never Ending Road

*plus some partial, and a "surprise" which has not, and likely will not ever be on a CD.

This rare treat would be a lovely gift for any Loreena fan.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars God rest ye merry, December 11, 2008
This review is from: Midwinter Night's Dream (Audio CD)
Consider Loreena McKennitt's latest album to be a natural expansion of her exquisite Yuletide EP, "A Winter Garden."

In fact, McKennitt includes four of those five songs on the sumptuously melancholy Christmas album "A Midwinter Night's Dream." These medieval ballads and traditional carols are soaked in an ambience of nighttime woods, embroidered tapestries, wassail and Christmas mass in a shadowy cathedral. No syrupy shopping carols -- this is Christmas music from an earlier age.

It opens with a swell of piano and quivering strings, as McKennitt murmurs, "The holly and the ivy/when they are full grown/of all the trees in the wood/the holly bears the crown... the rising of the sun/the running of the deer/the playing of the organ/sweet singing in the choir...."

It's a suitable introduction to the album -- quiet, soft, and redolent with medieval Christianity alongside the forest's powerful vibrancy. And it quickly segues into the stately fiddle-riddled dance of "Un Flambeau Jeannette Isabelle," the languid hymn "The Seven Rejoices Of Mary" and the swaying "NoŽl Nouvelet!"

Then she heads into more familiar traditional fare -- the sprightly "Good King Wenceslas," the gentle lullably "Coventry Carol" with its tale of King Herod's baby massacre, and staccato rhythms of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." After that it's a mixture of well-known and more obscure -- a pair mellow haunting instrumentals, a bittersweet ballad a trembling string rendition of the traditional "Emmanuel," and even a hearty wassailing song.

Along with Sufjan Stevens' Christmas EPs, "A Midwinter Night's Dream" is one of the few Christmas albums that breaks the mold -- no "Jingle Bells," no "Let It Snow," no sentimental carols performed exactly the same as hundreds of other renditions. In other words, no painfully commercial carols meant for radioplay.

Instead, McKennitt seems content to transport listeners back to tapestry-draped castles, dark nights filled with laughter and food, snowy forests and candelit stone churches. Her songs are crammed with stately sweet violins, plucked lute and some rhythmic little hand drums, as well as a sinuous flute that gives it a slightly Middle-Eastern flavor in "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen."

The crowning touch is McKennitt's strong, sweetly rich voice, which always sounds like she's restraining herself from REALLY blowing you away. Her voice slips easily into all the traditional carols, with their subjects ranging a saintly king's mission of mercy to Christina Rossetti's haunting poem of adoring the Christ child ("Cherubim and seraphim/Thronged the air/But his mother only/In her maiden bliss/Worshipped the Beloved/With a kiss...").

"A Midwinter Night's Dream" is a haunting, richly realized Christmas album with a melancholy edge and truly exquisite traditional carols. A must-listen in any Christmas season.
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Midwinter Night's Dream
Midwinter Night's Dream by Loreena McKennitt (Audio CD - 2008)
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