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Showing 1-10 of 288 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 454 reviews
on November 23, 2012
I had pretty low expectations, given the price. For their genre, each track is good, but if you think Christmas music was invented sometime last century and is only in English, as one of the other reviewers does, you'll be disappointed. "Santa Baby" it's not. If you want your Christmas music less baby boomer saccharine sweet and more rooted in the past millennium of Christian tradition, then read on. Each sub-album is worth a short review of its own:

1) (#1-26) Canterbury Choristers/Bornand Music Box: The choir gives a fine performance of a number of classic carols. I wasn't a huge fan of the music box, my wife, even less so. I've deselected them in my player.

2) (#27-51, 95-114, 173-189) Deller, et al: Full disclosure - I wrote my undergrad thesis on the decline of the countertenor voice. I sang first tenor in a men's glee club. I think the revival of the countertenor voice (started in large part by Deller) and historically informed performances more broadly are great things. If you think a male alto is cringe-worthy, some of these tracks are not for you. Most of them are ensemble pieces, some of them do feature Deller. Many of the works performed are Medieval, Renaissance or early Baroque, which is not exactly "A Holly Jolly Christmas" toe tapper. Having said that and my preferences not being exactly the center of the bell curve, I liked the Deller Consort performances a good deal.

#3) (#52-62) Martha Schlamme: Solo contralto performance of classic French Christmas carols. Nice tone, decent recording quality.

#4) (#63-80) Erich Kunz, Mozartsangerknaben et al: Traditional German language Christmas music, mostly choral with soli. Good performance, good recording.

#5) (#81-94) Cathedral of St. John the Divine Cathedral Choir. Warm sounding, big choir performances of classic English language carols with organ backing. Perhaps the most accessible recording on the collection. Good performance, good recording.

#6) (#115-122) I Soloisti di Zagreb & Antonio Janigro: The Corelli Christmas Concerto (#115) is wonderful, with lovely Baroque balance. The three Bach Chorales, all performed instrumentally, are also very nice. The Haydn/Leopold Mozart (authorship is in doubt) Toy Symphony is a bit harder to listen to, and earned the wife's playlist veto. The Corelli Pastoral Symphony (122) returns of the balanced sound of the Christmas Concerto. This recording was from a 1960 recording, which was reviewed as follows in Gramophone magazine at the time:

"Antonio Janigro's Zagreb group play this "Eighteenth Century Concert" quite neatly and stylishly, though the real hero of the Italian pieces is undoubtedly Anton Heiller, the organist and harpsichord player who has often been heard in London's Royal Festival Hall. It so happened that these items were recorded in Vienna, Heiller's home town, and he was brought along to play continuo. His very musical and imaginative realization of the figured basses is a joy to the ear, and although he is a composer of note it is pleasant to confirm that he does not "compose" his realizations in a manner that makes his contribution obtrusive or over-emphasized; indeed one is so wrapped up in the music that Heiller's fine playing only makes itself felt after the event--a real tribute to his musicianship.
Collectors who want two "Christmas Concertos" on one disc will find performances that they can enjoy time and time again, and they will doubtless sympathise with the bemused printer who has misprinted "Corelli" for "Torelli" on the label for side 2. The spurious but still delightful Toy Symphony receives a lighthearted but well-rehearsed performance, and the Bach Chorale Preludes (though a little out of place in this context) are quite well arranged and played. The thirteen members of this group are well balanced both internally and via the microphone."

#7 (#123-129): Children's Choir of Radio Prague: These may grow on me, but Czech Christmas music accompanied by a high, reedy bagpipe isn't my favorite by any means.

#8) (#148-160): Hayes & Boardman: Solo tenor accompanied by piano, performing works from a variety of traditions. Decent recording, not my favorite.

#9) (#161-172): Coertse et al performance of J.S. Bach's Magnificat, BWV 243: Decent performance, so-so older recording. It's possible that most of the other recordings are equally poor, but being more familiar with Magnificat from other Magnificat recordings I own, it's easier to hear the comparatively muddier sound. That, and Bach just demands more precise sound than some of the bigger choirs recorded in rich echo chambers.

#10) (#190-213): Utah S.O. Performing Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker": True holiday classic, good performance, good recording.

#11) (#214-226): Heiller performing Bach Chorales on the organ. I'm no organ aficionado, but this is a good performance and a good recording.

#12) (#227-279): English Chamber Orchestra & Johannes Somary perform G.F. Handel's Messiah Oratorio: This performance is a nice middle ground between the huge choir recordings of Messiah, performing it as though it were Brahms without any baroque airiness, and the one-voice per part HIP recordings. The soloists all do a creditable job, and despite being a 1970's recording, the sound quality is also pretty good. If you wanted a physical CD of this recording alone, it would cost $13 Handel: Messiah.

#13) (#280): Charleton Heston reading the Christmas story, from Luke. Not music, but nevertheless, an unabashed conclusion that this is a Christmas album, not a generic Holiday album.

I have to agree that not having the ID3 Tags on the composer is an annoyance, but given the price, and the fact that I have to re-format most ID3 composer tags as it is (lest I have 10 permutations of Bach, J.S. rather than one) it's something I can easily overlook and still give 5 stars.

This is well worth the buy, perhaps the best bang for the buck I've seen on Amazon (excepting the free content, of course).
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on December 25, 2016
Wonderful collection. Don't expect Jingle Bell Rock or Tony Bennett. A classical-music-oriented collection from the Vanguard label, mostly recorded ca. 1960-1970 (I think), and the sound is good. The Prague children's choir is heartwarming and it is fun to go back and listen to I Solisti di Zagreb, Antonio Janigro, cond., play Corelli's Christmas Concerto, and recognize all over again how good they are. A nice thing about this album is that you probably can't get through it all this year, so you can come back to it the next and discover new things. Some reviewers complain about Deller. I find I really like Deller, but if you don't, it's still a bargain. But the thing is, I had never heard Deller much, and this album clued me into it. And if you don't know Schlamme's French carols, that's another thing to discover. So that's the nice thing about this album: it's full of oldies but goodies that one might not have thought to seek out.

Here are links to some cover art; correctness not guaranteed.
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on December 16, 2012
I bought the album for $1, so I absolutely got my money's worth, but I also wasted time weeding out the 65% of the songs that I didn't like, or that didn't feel very Christmas-y (pipe organ, unfamiliar foreign songs). As of this writing, the album is $2.79, which is still an acceptable price. If you've ever regretted a purchase because you didn't get one of the highest quality versions of a song, then this is not the album for you.

I enjoyed the Canterbury Choristers (#1-26, minus Bornand Music Box) and Cathedral of St. John (#81-94) albums-within-this-album. The Messiah was a small set of voices, and included all of the songs and not just the popular (good) ones, but was done well. The Nutcracker was good, but if you're like me, you already own two or more other versions of it from other compilations. And I worry that I wasn't supposed to enjoy Charlton Heston's reading of Luke 2 (#280), but I absolutely did. I really loved the symphony-only work by I Soloisti di Zagreb & Antonio Janigro (#115-118, 122), though some didn't evoke Christmas for me (#119-121).

I liked the pipe organ songs and some of the foreign songs, but to me they weren't Christmas-y.

Other things you won't be putting on as background music at a Christmas party any time soon include the obnoxious Bornand Music Box songs, the Children's Choir of Radio Prague, and almost everything (I liked #176) with Alfred Deller's name and shrill voice attached. I was unimpressed with the vocally strained and heavily accented performances from the Roland Hayes & Reginald Boardman album, but I give them props for attempting a multi-lingual album with nothing but a piano for accompaniment.
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on November 30, 2012
I bought this for the Deller Consort and the various affiliations of Alfred Deller. These tracks make up 83 of 280 mp3s in this generous collection. I'd discovered just a handful of the Deller Consort's renaissance vocal works on a long out of print Vanguard box set, "Folk Songs and Minstrelsy". While this collection includes no songs about alehouses, the traditional Christmas subject matter fits their style perfectly. It is renaissance material such as this which distinguishes this compilation from the many that are centered around retreads of Nutcracker tinkling.

This collection may not be for those whose point of reference is "Jingle Bell Rock" or the latest holiday product by Nashville's drug store hatboy of the moment. But for those who appreciate classical, vocal music, or musical history, or those who are simply adventurous, this gigantic set trumps previous years' 99-100-etc. offerings from other labels. The review by B. R. Fox goes into more detail but suffice it to say that this album and the Pink Martini Christmas album will be getting a lot of play around the house this season.
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on November 24, 2012
Honestly, this collection is worth the $0.99 price tag - get it while it lasts. When it goes up to $9.99 like most of the other Bach Guild collections, pass it up.

This Bach Guild release is by far the weakest of its releases so far. The vocal music varies in quality. Some of it is really poor - choirs that are out of tune, old recordings that sound really dated - and the sound quality of most of the pieces is subpar. It's vinyl sound without the actual vinyl.

Some of the recordings are solid - I really enjoyed the organ selections and the Utah Symphony's Messiah is solid. I liked 1/2 of the Deller stuff - his old medival and renaissance stuff works for the vocal style, but the Victorian and more recent stuff doesn't.

In the end I kept about 1/2 of the stuff, deleted the rest. Again, it's a great value (especially at $0.99), but keep your expectations low.
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on November 22, 2012
This is an unbelievable collection of Christmas music collections from several cultures (French/English/Czech/German, etc.) across multiple centuries, using multiple media (solos, small vocal ensembles, full and chamber orchestras, music boxes, choruses). Great potential to create different playlists for different moods and circumstances - I wouldn't just play them all in order. Alfred Deller and his ensemble may not be everyone's taste, but their performances are solid and musicianship was/is highly respected. The Messiah recording is well-regarded for a modern instrument version (wonderful soloists - not a weak one in the bunch) and the Nutcracker ballet gets a solid performance, crisply recorded. I have yet to explore the service from St. John the Divine, but their music program has been sound for years.

The 99 cent price tag is a veritable joke, even if you only listen to one style within the variety offered.
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on November 26, 2012
Lots of great music to take where ever you go. 280 songs to last you the whole Christmas Holiday never get through the whole box of music various artist with such classic Christmas music for such a huge value for all ages. This is the style of Music that is Classic for Christmas. A good way to expose your young family to Classical music and nice instrumental and beautiful choirs. It is not have "Santa Claus is coming to town" or Rock music. This is the way music was in early centuries and adds culture, tradition and Christian, Classical, Instrumental arrangements. I found it very relaxing to listen to the variety of arrangements of music good for the true meaning of Christmas not Santa Claus is coming to town or Jingle Bells. When you download this box set there are 280 songs to consider when you download it will take several minutes depending on your download connection. I highly recommend you do a backup download in media player, goggle play, I-tunes on your computer, laptop then transfer to your portable device like a I pod, tablet or your phone. Enjoy this great collection! I give it an A+.
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on March 1, 2017
About two bazillion hours of "Christmas background" music for your holiday gatherings. Set it to play and forget about it for the evening.
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on December 26, 2013
Looks like the ID3 tag issue is resolved. Download included artist. time stamp, etc. Thanks to reviewer who broke down tracks into albums on a list! French soprano solos are wobbly, Tenor/solo piano tracks are either funny or tragic, Nutcracker is surprisingly good, Toy Symphony is great, Robert Tier selections are a rarity to be recorded, Messiah performance is nothing special, but recording quality is solid (very well split into tracks if you are a vocal coach teaching it to others, though), Quality of Magnificat recording not the best although performance is okay. If you aren't a counter tenor fan already these tracks won't change your opinion (I don't mind counter tenor sound as long as it's crystal clear in vocal quality and these performances aren't). Most of the popular choral carols get a nice cover. German Bass solos are a nice surprise! Definitely worth the buck if you venture beyond pop culture (Frosty, Rudolph, Silver Bells).
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on January 12, 2014
First of all, I bought this for my Kindle. It would not download. Even tech support couldn't help. I deleted this every day off my Kindle and Cloud and it still kept trying to download. Not possible you say? Well, it did. Tech support could not figure out why this kept reappearing on my Kindle. It would try to download and lock up the Kindle. I'd delete it from Cloud all over again and within 24 hours it would be back.

The music selections are mostly songs I've never heard of. It just didn't work for me. Very unhappy and frustrated with it. Best of luck to anyone else willing to give it a go.
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