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on December 11, 2009
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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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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on December 7, 2009
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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on December 8, 2009
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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VINE VOICEon November 9, 2010
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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on December 10, 2009
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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Amazon was the seller. I don't like modern Christmas music, or most of the stuff you hear on the radio these days. Jesus is the reason for the season, and that's how I prefer my Christmas music.

Lots of lovely music at a very good price (almost 6 hours of music for 4 bucks).

The download worked fine for me, using the Amazon MP3 Downloader. One song failed. After everything else was done downloading, I clicked "clear completed", went to the Amazon Cloud Player, selected the song that failed, and clicked download; after the "amz" file downloaded to my PC, I clicked on it, and it loaded into the Amazon MP3 Downloader, and it downloaded successfully.

I was disappointed in the song "In the Bleak Midwinter". It doesn't sound anything like what I'm used to. So, I went to youtube and found the real deal (search for xRobryliBLQ).

Here is another traditional Christmas album to check-out: Best Carols 100

Visit my Amazon wish list to see my favorite CDs/MP3s:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/10PLVJREX4CJW/
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on December 13, 2010
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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on December 7, 2012
For the price, this is unbeatable. However, you should listen to the songs before you try to use them for a church sing-along. A few that should be choral are strictly instrumental. A few use completely different tunes than I am used to. On some the music becomes too loud to hear the choir at times. Most of them seem to be sung (in English) by possibly a Spanish-speaking choir. As an ESL teacher, I find it extremely charming, but "We WEEESH you a merry KREEESS-MAS," might be disconcerting to some.

Anyway, though, well worth the $2.
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on April 9, 2013
Pros:

* 99 complete tracks for less than a nickel each
* Entire Nutcracker Ballet
* Plenty of "church" and "religious" holiday music
* Orchestra and chorus traditional hymns
* A few modern songs, just instrumentals, not the "radio" cuts
* Additional classical music used in holiday performances that is not, on its own, associated with Christmas
* Hours of beautiful and soothing music

Cons:

* All what most consider "classical" music -- instrumentals, orchestrals, and chorals
* No "popular" singers
* Many unfamiliar song names
* This album won't entertain the kids or grandkids
* Medolies #6 and #91 have file names that are too long for many computers

Summary:

I paid the price of a burger for 99 songs. If I don't like something, I can delete it, or create a playlist of the ones that I do like. The value for the money makes this a five-star product.

Uses:

* Relaxing under the tree after a long stressful day
* Background music to gatherings
* Suitable to play at work
* Putting the baby to sleep
* Use the less holiday-oriented tracks all year-round

File Name Problem Fix:

If tracks #6 and #91 cannot upload into Windows Media Player or onto a MP3 device, follow these steps:

1. Find where your music was saved. (.../Music/Amazon/Various Artists/The 99 Most Essential Christmas Masterpieces/)

2. Rename the files that were unable to load properly to a shorter length. Do this by clicking on each individually with the right mouse button and selecting "rename" from the appearing menu.

3. Highlight or mark the files either one-at-a-time or together, depending on what your computer allows. If you can only select one-at-a-time, you will need to repeat this step again for the other file later.

4. Go to the "File" menu and select the "Send To" submenu. Choose the appropriate place that you would like the file to be recognized. Close the window that popped up and repeat step #3 and #4, if you did not complete this for all files yet.

More Instrumental Christmas Music:

99 Must-Have Christmas Classics

Celtic Christmas

Ukulele Christmas
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