Now here’s a good idea. If you’re like me and are sick to death of hearing the same old holiday “classics” year after year, then you’ll welcome this new release from Pentatone.
December Celebration presents a cohesive program of fresh-sounding, accessible carols by living American composers. And while the musical language might lean a little on the conservative side, these are all well-constructed compositions. There’s no dumbing down here. Even the well-known “Silent Night” gets an imaginative — but wholly appropriate — re-imagining by Gordon Getty.
One of my personal favorites is “How Bright the Darkness” by Luna Pearl Wolf. It’s a delicately beautiful work, with a similar character to Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols.”
As with virtually all Pentatone releases, I strongly recommend purchasing the SACD version (as opposed to just downloading it). The more detailed the sound, the more beautiful the Volti Chorus seems to sing.
December Celebration will be getting heavy rotation in my personal holiday music playlist.
December Celebration: New Carols by Seven American Composers
Mark Adamo: The Christmas Life; Jake Heggie: On the Road to Christmas; Joan Morris & William Bolcom: Carol (Neighbors, on this Frosty Tide); David Garner: Three Carols; Lona Pearl Woolf: How Bright the Darkeness; Gordon Getty: Four Christmas Carols; John Corigliano: Christmas at the Cloisters; Franz Gruber, arr. by Gordon Getty: Silent Night
Lisa Delano, soprano; Lester Lynch, baritone; Volti Chorus; Musicians of the New Century Chamber Orchestra; Dawn Harms, conductor
Pentatone SACD PTC 5186 537