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Christmas CD

4.7 out of 5 stars 223 customer reviews

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Christmas
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Distinctive instrumental interpretations of traditional holiday songs from around the world. Includes God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Deck the Halls; We Three Kings; Good King Wenceslas; Stille Nacht; Coventry Carol , and more.

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Depending on your point of view, Christmas is either a quaint sonic time capsule extracted from the mid-1980s or a timeless holiday classic. The first in what has become an ongoing series of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas recordings, this CD has sold millions, which seems to indicate that it is everything its advertising claims it to be: "America's favorite Christmas music." The powerfully successful Mannheim Steamroller formula, conceived by group mastermind Chip Davis, involves a blend of Renaissance-flavored moods and instrumentation (strings, harpsichord, flute, French horn) intertwined with polite pop instrumental music. At times, the analog synthesizers used in this 1984 recording sound dated and a little cheesy, particularly on "Deck the Halls" and "Good King Wenceslas." But it is a forgivable offense since live instruments and the earnest but ersatz medieval atmosphere they evoke dominate 8 of the 11 tracks. As pleasant and soothing as a Willard Scott birthday wish, Christmas does offer one selection that truly merits "classic" status: the reverent, prayerful, slow-motion interpretation of "Silent Night" ("Stille Nacht") for piano and strings that closes the album--a beautiful and heart-touching work. This selection alone makes this album worth owning. --Terry Wood
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 14, 2012)
  • Original Release Date: August 14, 2012
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: American Gramaphone
  • ASIN: B0000005MT
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,804 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kathy Parsons TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 12, 2000
Format: Audio CD
The first of the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums, this one is a lot of fun, too. A bit more traditional than "A Fresh Aire Christmas", this album has a lot of arrangements that could be from The Renaissance. Harp, lute, hammered dulcimer, and clavichord join more contemporary instruments in stylings that are sometimes classical and other times modern. A rollicking "Deck the Halls" opens the album. Its fast tempo and heart-thumping bass line let you know right away that this Christmas album isn't going to take itself too seriously! This is definitely a modern arrangement, and it is gregarious to the fullest degree. "We Three Kings", "Bring a Torch, Jeannette Isabella", and "Coventry Carol" sound ancient with mostly acoustic instruments. Next comes a rock and roll "Good King Wenceslas" with plenty of voltage powering the instruments! The next four "olde English"pieces comprise the "Christmas Sweet" played in a style and instrumentation befitting that era. The rocking version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is possibly my favorite Christmas recording of all time. It is totally infectious and commands me to hit "replay" every time it gets near the end. Full of joy and fun, this is what I think Christmas should feel like at least a few times during the season! "Stille Nacht" closes out the CD on a soothing and peaceful note. This is a great Christmas album, and I highly recommend it.
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Format: Audio CD
This, the first of Mannheim Steamroller's holiday collections, is timeless. Songs that should sound dated now just resonate with memories of Christmases past. This version of Good King Wenceslas should have won a Grammy. It's such an outstanding arrangement and still gives me goosebumps after 15 years. And the version of Silent Night on this disc is nothing short of breathtaking. It's really an experience and you just have to hear it to understand. The perfect late night Christmas Eve track.
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Format: Audio CD
Without exaggerating, this may be (for better or worse) the most musically important Christmas album ever released. By blending reverent, neo-classical interpretations with (now semi-) modern synthesizers and percussion, Chip Davis virtually re-defined contemporary Christmas music. While the more contemporary/electronic arrangements can occassionally sound cheesy, and while the contrast with the ultra-traditional interpretations can occassionally be jarring, the result is undeniably unique. And, for anyone who grew up in the 1980s, even the most questionable Chip Davis efforts will for ever after evoke powerful holiday nostalgia.
And few Chip Davis efforts are really "questionable." In general, the arrangements on this disc are masterful. "Bring a Torch..." and "Silent Night," in particular, are hauntingly beautiful. And, while the electronics may not be for everyone, they are tastefully done, they do evoke a festive mood, and they keep the album from sounding like every other orchestral Christmas album you've ever heard.
If you are one of the 17 Americans who hasn't heard this music, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. It is, quite simply, essential Christmas music.
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Format: Audio CD
I would have to say that A Fresh Aire Christmas slightly beats out this one in overall quality, which is funny because this one contains my two favourite pieces. The rest of the tunes, though, don't match up in terms of peacefulness and beauty. It's still worth 5 stars, though.
This one starts out with a rousing rendition of Deck the Halls, with a fast, synthesized beat. Since this is a jolly song anyway, it really fits. The rest of the CD carries along quite nicely, though not really memorably. The songs are quite pleasant and well done, but they don't have a lot of jump to them. The soft ones are pretty, but not quite beautiful, and the fast ones are ok.
That changes, however, with the end of the CD. The end brings this up from 4 stars to 5. First, there is a quiet version of God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, which is short and sweet. However, it segues into a really rousing version of the song. It really gets the blood pumping, and I just love it to pieces. It's beautiful, it's fast, yet it's also very poetic in a way.
Then, things slow down to a crawl (but this time, in a good way, not in the usual meaning of that phrase). Stille Nacht (Silent Night) is simply the best piece on any of these CDs that I own. It's very soft, almost too soft to hear sometimes at the beginning. It then builds to a very soft, slow and peaceful 2nd half, which is where you really hear the tune itself. It makes you picture a snowy night in the forest on Christmas Eve. It makes me cry almost every time I hear it. In fact, the first time I listened to it after moving away from my family, I really broke down. It is that beautiful.
You really should treat yourself and get both of these CDs, but if you can manage to get A Fresh Aire Christmas and get somebody to give you a recording of these two songs, that would be worth it too. Highly recommended.
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By A Customer on December 8, 1998
Format: Audio CD
Getting into the Christmas spirit could not be possibe without the right music; this DC is it! Any of Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas CDs are incredible for parties, driving, & it's the only thing that keeps me kicking out those Christmas cookies every year - it's part of my tradition now! When you're having a hard time "getting into the spirit" & those other Christmas CDs are a bore , go buy this one.
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