The list author says: "OK, I realize that there are not only a zillion Christmas CDs and DVDs out there, but also at least 10 billion Listmania lists FOR them!! So why am I creating yet ANOTHER list?? For one thing, I've always loved Christmas music and have my definite favorite recordings, so I enjoy sharing them (as long as you return them before Christmas). Secondly, my list has got several quite obscure selections that I believe should get more publicity. I did NOT try to put the items on this list in order by priority, so please don't think that the ones nearer the top are necessarily the "best." However, I should note that CDs are at the top and DVDs at the bottom. And I did put similar ones together, such as classical, jazz, party-oriented, and gag ones. Note that this list is for Christmas MUSIC, so I am not including feature films, documentaries, non-music TV shows, and such here. I hope my list helps you, so have a Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year!!"
"Here's a well-done Christmas disc by the wonderful Boston Pops Orchestra if you're looking for something with orchestra and chorus. I like that it has several rather unusual yet terrific pieces, such as "Fantasia on Christmas Carols" by Ralph Vaughn Williams, as well as several cleverly altered medleys of familiar holiday songs. Great digital sound from 1997."
"This is one of many compilations by various performers, yet this is easily one of the best I've come across. It's a "classical" treatment performed mostly by Europeans such as opera singers Renata Tebaldi and Luciano Pavarotti, as well as major choral groups and orchestras. It was done by Decca, one of the best classical music labels."
"Eugene Ormandy and his Philadelphia Orchestra were famous for their beautifully lush "Philadelphia Sound." That makes for a very moving and wonderfully arranged Christmas album from the 1960s. This is mostly very religious and serious, so there are few light pieces like "Jingle Bells" or "Let It Snow." Ormandy and the Philadelphia later recorded the holiday album "Joy to the World.""
"My Christmas is not complete without both hearing and seeing Tchaikovky's Nutcracker ballet several times. There are LOTS of recordings of it, but here's a satisfying, great-sounding complete version conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. See also the DVD Nutcracker near the bottom of this list."
"This is a really beautiful and moving Christmas album by famed opera tenor Pavarotti. This "Special Deluxe Edition" has 6 tracks added to the original album, or you can get the original album on CD if you'd prefer. Also, it's very religiously focused. I prefer to see this performed, but the only DVD I've found of it has substandard sound quality."
"Peggy Lee is one of my favorite vocalists. She always interprets songs in her own unique, sexy manner. As is usually the case with her recordings, these Christmas songs are jazz arrangements, and as usual she sings them splendidly."
"Andy Williams is another Christmas standard, and with good reason! This CD from the 1960s is perhaps the best of his holiday albums, although others are very good too. These are all great songs, but I especially love his rendition of "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," which has become one of his signature songs. See also his terrific Christmas concert below on DVD."
"Here's some of the best songs from the holiday albums of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin. Interestingly, only 4 songs on here are strictly religious, and there are only 2 songs where more than one of these guys sings together."
"Alternately, if you just want to hear Ol' Blue Eyes and not a bunch of Rat Packers at Christmas time, here's Sinatra's classic 1957 album. (There's a newer "50th Anniversary" CD of this, but as far as I can tell it's the same recording as this one, and this is a whole lot cheaper.)"
"If you grew up as I did listening to the great Columbia Records Christmas albums with singers like Doris Day and Danny Kaye from the 50s and 60s, the series "15 Christmas Favorites" is how some of them have been repackaged by Sony. However, some of the big names from those Columbia albums are missing on these - people like Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, and others, though I don't know why."
"This 2-disc set is my favorite packaging of Elvis's Christmas music. It's all his studio Christmas songs, plus a disc of gospel songs. A good 1-disc version that combines his 2 Christmas albums is "Elvis Christmas," while another 1-disc version that has alternate takes but no gospel songs is "If Every Day Was Like Christmas.""
"Here's another singer who will forever be connected with Christmas. There are a bunch of CDs of his holiday music, but this seems to be the best overall. His "White Christmas" album is the classic, but has 6 fewer tracks than this one. See also the great DVD set below of his TV specials."
"Here's another jazzy classic by one of the great singers of our time. This is a new edition that includes a DVD that I have not seen, or you can get an older issue of just the CD cheaper than this CD/DVD combo."
"If you're at all a fan of this classic TV special, you also need the soundtrack of this infectious music by Johnny Marks. It not only has all the songs from the TV special, but the second half is pleasant instrumentals of those songs with the Decca Concert Orchestra."
"This 2-CD set and the one below are among my favorites. The "Dickens Christmas" part is very nicely done in a "traditional" British manner by Ed Sweeney on folk instruments such as guitar, dulcimer, banjo, fiddle, handbells, and more, with no vocals. Many songs are familiar to Americans, but about a third are more British. I have not heard the "Nutcracker" part of this 3-CD set."
"Here's another of Ed Sweeney's very enjoyable "traditional" folk instrumental arrangements of Christmas songs. Compared to his "Dickens Christmas" CD above, these songs tend to be more familiar to Americans, and more recent."
"Liona Boyd does a fine job with these guitar arrangements of holiday songs. It's done in a more traditional style, and not new age. She later made another good holiday album entitled "Christmas Dreams," so I play both together. Both of these albums are not for guitar solo, but include an orchestra, other solo instruments, and a few include singers."
"Have yourself a jazzy little Christmas with this collection from the esteemed GRP label. It's got lots of major jazz artists such as The Yellowjackets, David Benoit, Tom Scott, Lee Ritenour, Patti Austin, Dave Grusin, and many more. I love most of these, although a few are pretty bizarre. And you can get these on 3 separate CDs if you don't want to start with this combo of all-in-one."
"Spicy latin jazzed up versions of familiar Christmas songs. It's actually by the famous label Concord Jazz, but marketed through Playboy. Good music notes too, including some by Hef. I was lucky to get a copy that has a sexy babe in a Santa suit on the cover, as well as other places."
"This soundtrack from the beloved TV special has become a modern classic, with the Vince Guaraldi Trio performing jazzy Christmas tunes, and a few tracks including the Peanuts gang too. (This is the original version, though a newer issue re-mixes this, has some alternate takes, etc.)"
"This CD is part of the Ultra-Lounge series, so it's some really cool, fun, swinging music you might want to play at your Christmas party. It includes some familiar Christmas singers like Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, and Nat King Cole, but also contains several instrumental tracks."
"This CD always gets big laughs since it really IS frogs singing 10 Christmas classics!! Croaking frogs were recorded, then carefully edited to get the right pitches and tempos to make Christmas songs. It features such frog stars as Ribbit Goulet and Toady Keith, and there are also a few owls and other wildlife singers. It's mostly a gag, but is actually quite good musically too!"
"This and below are DVDs. Here the wonderful mezzo-soprano Frederica Von Stade takes her kids to Austria and treats us to a wonderful Christmas program. Usually, Von Stade's wonderful singing (sometimes along with singer Melba Moore and others) is heard as she and her kids visit various sites around the town St. Wolfgang, Austria, so this is a great sight-seeing tour as well."
"This is one of my favorite Christmas music DVDs, one that my family watches every year. It's a good balance of light and serious songs, with good backing from his orchestra as well as guest stars like the Osmond Brothers and Lorrie Morgan. Also see the Andy Williams CD above."
"This 2-DVD set is a great combination of serious and light-hearted, classical and popular. DVD 1 plays "classical" arrangements of popular Christmas tunes, while showing Christmas scenes around Europe. DVD 2 plays choruses from Handel's "Messiah," while showing details of a beautiful church in Bavaria."
"I never tire of seeing this classic version of "The Nutcracker" with the American Ballet Theater! There are several versions out there on DVD, and I haven't seen them all, but you can't lose with this one featuring the great Russian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. See also the CD Nutcracker near the top of this list."
"And here's the great Bing Crosby TV Christmas specials on DVD. A big part of Christmas when I was growing up was watching the TV specials by Bing, Perry Como, Andy Williams, and others, yet most have not been released on DVD. These are loaded with great music!! OK, now someone PLEASE release the specials by Perry and Andy!! Also see the Bing Crosby CD above."
"To help you ring in the New Year, here's a DVD from the terrific "New Year's in Vienna" series, in which the Vienna Philharmonic performs music mainly from the Strauss family every January 1. This one is from 1987 and is conducted by the great Herbert Von Karajan, but there are several in this series, with various conductors."