Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

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Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by Lance » Thu Nov 26, 2020 4:05 pm

Sony Classical has issued a 2-CD set of Kaufmann singing 42 selections of Christmas music at a 2-for-1 price (nice of them!). Accompaniments are varied, and having listened to much of this set [78676], Kaufmann seems to be straining more that I have heard in the past, nonetheless, he is a class artist.

I usually attempt to acquire vocal holiday music by great singers ... some of them seem to go out of print quickly.
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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by barney » Thu Nov 26, 2020 4:51 pm

Interesting, Lance - I am the opposite. Christmas music, to me - unless it is by the likes of Handel or Bach - is trite and sentimental, especially the Christmas compilations stars like Kaufmann put out. I haven't seen what's on the Kaufmann but I suspect it's similar. Mostly I dislike great voices in cross-over; they seldom seem at ease.

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by Lance » Thu Nov 26, 2020 5:37 pm

Understand completely. Each to his own. I well remember the Eileen Farrell Columbia Christmas album and told her I had and enjoyed. Her response: "Oh, THAT thing!" But she was a crossover artist as well, as you know. A very dedicated singer. And then there was Ernestine Schumann-Heink who made those old 78-rpm recordings of Christmas pieces, most notably, "Silent Night." I still get requests for that on my program and she's passed many years ago. And then there was Pavarotti, Domingo, Battle, Carreras, Leontyne Price, [and Susan Boyle!], Horne, Te Kanawa, Sutherland, some with Nilsson, Rita Streich, Fleming, Florez, Fischer-Dieskau, Farrell, von Otter, Hendricks, Olaf Bar, Alagna, Schwarzkof, Prey, Rothenberger, Ameling, Sumi Jo, Jessye Norman, Lanza, Caballé, Caruso, Marian Anderson, Benita Valente, Peter Schreier, Denyce Graves, Ivan Rebroff, Freni, Plishka, Melchior (some), Gruberova, Hynninen, Seefried, Benackova, Hampson, Scotto ... and actually, quite a few more. Now, i did that JUST for you, Barney. [It took a little time, but that's what the holiday season is about, eh?] Some of those I KNOW you would have enjoyed. Even Spike Jones (non-vocal) did some Christmas music! Also note, I did not mention Elvis Presley or Bing Crosby, neither of who did serious classical music. If you can think of any others, I would be delighted!!!
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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by maestrob » Fri Nov 27, 2020 11:19 am

Lance wrote:
Thu Nov 26, 2020 4:05 pm
Sony Classical has issued a 2-CD set of Kaufmann singing 42 selections of Christmas music at a 2-for-1 price (nice of them!). Accompaniments are varied, and having listened to much of this set [78676], Kaufmann seems to be straining more that I have heard in the past, nonetheless, he is a class artist.

I usually attempt to acquire vocal holiday music by great singers ... some of them seem to go out of print quickly.
I also have quite a collection of Christmas CDs like that, and will probably want this one as well while it remains in print.

Two of our favorites were recorded in the 1960's in Philadelphia, one by Eugene Ormandy for Columbia (The Glorious Sound of Christmas from 1962), and the other by the Philadelphia Brass, both reissued by Sony and still available. Ormandy's first Christmas album featured the Temple University Choir, prepared and led by Robert Page, who led me in Pennsylvania's All-State Choir in Harrisburg in 1967 when I sang Vaughan-Williams's Serenade to Music for the first time at the tender age of 17. Another CD of Christmas carols arranged for orchestra & chorus was conducted by Colin Davis with the chorus prepared by John Aldiss, who led me in Carnegie Hall when I sang for the 500th Anniversary Concert for Oxford University Press in 1980 with 800 others in Carnegie Hall.

Great memories!

Two of our favorite solo CDs are by Black artists, Kathleen Battle's sparkling Christmas CD that she recorded with Leonard Slatkin at the height of her career, and the CD Jessye Norman made when she appeared in a TV special on PBS in 1987 (the first year they invented stereo broadcast sound for TV), called Christmastide. ON TV, the Symphony created by Robert DeCormier was a sensation, narrated between movements by Derek Jacobi, but sadly that broadcast was never issued on DVD. The off-air video I made is a treasure in my library and has been transferred to DVD, but it's of poor quality and suffers from tracking problems. Still the music comes through as ethereally beautiful. Both discs are available for streaming on amazon.

Norman did record a CD at the same time, and it's still available, although I find it lacks the spirit of the live performance, it is still worthwhile having.

All that said, we do listen to Handel's Messiah and the Bach Christmas Oratorio every year, which bring back wonderful memories of performing them in Carnegie Hall and Philharmonic/Avery Fisher Hall.

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by barney » Fri Nov 27, 2020 12:11 pm

Lance wrote:
Thu Nov 26, 2020 5:37 pm
Understand completely. Each to his own. I well remember the Eileen Farrell Columbia Christmas album and told her I had and enjoyed. Her response: "Oh, THAT thing!" But she was a crossover artist as well, as you know. A very dedicated singer. And then there was Ernestine Schumann-Heink who made those old 78-rpm recordings of Christmas pieces, most notably, "Silent Night." I still get requests for that on my program and she's passed many years ago. And then there was Pavarotti, Domingo, Battle, Carreras, Leontyne Price, [and Susan Boyle!], Horne, Te Kanawa, Sutherland, some with Nilsson, Rita Streich, Fleming, Florez, Fischer-Dieskau, Farrell, von Otter, Hendricks, Olaf Bar, Alagna, Schwarzkof, Prey, Rothenberger, Ameling, Sumi Jo, Jessye Norman, Lanza, Caballé, Caruso, Marian Anderson, Benita Valente, Peter Schreier, Denyce Graves, Ivan Rebroff, Freni, Plishka, Melchior (some), Gruberova, Hynninen, Seefried, Benackova, Hampson, Scotto ... and actually, quite a few more. Now, i did that JUST for you, Barney. [It took a little time, but that's what the holiday season is about, eh?] Some of those I KNOW you would have enjoyed. Even Spike Jones (non-vocal) did some Christmas music! Also note, I did not mention Elvis Presley or Bing Crosby, neither of who did serious classical music. If you can think of any others, I would be delighted!!!
Great artists, undeniably, Lance. But why would I listen to them doing crossover when I can hear them in the core classics? Kiri, a really great soprano, so debased herself = a provocative word, I know, but my view - that Private Eye parodied her with a story "Kiri sings the Sex Pistols". But if your tastes are more generous than mine, I have no problem with that. For myself, I don't know how many listening hours I have left, and I don't want to waste them.
Oh, and many thanks for your hard labour on my behalf. There are some I don't know at all - Hynninen, Graves, Valente.

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by Lance » Fri Nov 27, 2020 1:50 pm

I hope you KNOW, Barney, that I was pulling your leg on that post! It is the other side of my usually conservative side! (Some people might heartily disagree with that "conservatism" though!)
barney wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 12:11 pm
Great artists, undeniably, Lance. But why would I listen to them doing crossover when I can hear them in the core classics? Kiri, a really great soprano, so debased herself = a provocative word, I know, but my view - that Private Eye parodied her with a story "Kiri sings the Sex Pistols". But if your tastes are more generous than mine, I have no problem with that. For myself, I don't know how many listening hours I have left, and I don't want to waste them.

Oh, and many thanks for your hard labour on my behalf. There are some I don't know at all - Hynninen, Graves, Valente.
Lance G. Hill
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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by maestrob » Fri Nov 27, 2020 1:55 pm

barney wrote:
Thu Nov 26, 2020 4:51 pm
Interesting, Lance - I am the opposite. Christmas music, to me - unless it is by the likes of Handel or Bach - is trite and sentimental, especially the Christmas compilations stars like Kaufmann put out. I haven't seen what's on the Kaufmann but I suspect it's similar. Mostly I dislike great voices in cross-over; they seldom seem at ease.
Hello, Barney!

I tend to agree with you in general, but there are, as in everything, exceptions to the rule.

You mentioned in another post above that you don't care for Dame Kiri's crossover albums. Well, one of those that I do admire was her "Blue Skies" CD she recorded for Decca in 1985, which was the last project undertaken by the brilliant American arranger Nelson Riddle, whose nephew I met while at the NYAC. Riddle was perfectly attuned to the singing voice throughout his career, and was not at all intimidated by working with his first classical star attraction. IMHO, the album is splendid, with each song chosen for highlighting specific qualities in her voice. The arrangements don't sound at all awkward or hasty, being superbly crafted just for Te Kanewa's unique talent.

I do highly recommend the disc pictured below, but by contrast, remain quite disappointed by her follow-up Gershwin album for EMI with John McGlinn's (who??) arrangements. It's available for streaming here on amazon, or perhaps you can find it on youtube and decide for yourself. Do give it a chance! :D

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by Rach3 » Tue Dec 01, 2020 9:35 am

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One of my fav Christmas albums, mine the lp, not sure ever made it to cd.Also, Pavarotti's " O Holy Night" cd on Decca London.

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by Rach3 » Tue Dec 01, 2020 11:22 am

Rach3 wrote:
Tue Dec 01, 2020 9:35 am
Also, Pavarotti's " O Holy Night" cd on Decca London.
Should have mentioned that of the 11 works on that Pavarotti cd, 10 are by Classical composers, probably why I enjoy it.

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by barney » Tue Dec 01, 2020 11:58 am

I can heartily recommend a CD that just came to me, A Baroque Christmas by the Australian Chamber Choir, a "pick of the pops from the late 1400s to the end of the Baroque period". 17 tracks from live concerts. Starts with des Pres via the likes of Pretorious, Sweelink, Scheidt, Victoria, Gabrieli. It's on the small, independent Move label.
see more here: http://www.move.com.au/disc/a-baroque-christmas

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by barney » Tue Dec 01, 2020 11:59 am

Lance wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 1:50 pm
I hope you KNOW, Barney, that I was pulling your leg on that post! It is the other side of my usually conservative side! (Some people might heartily disagree with that "conservatism" though!)
barney wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 12:11 pm
Great artists, undeniably, Lance. But why would I listen to them doing crossover when I can hear them in the core classics? Kiri, a really great soprano, so debased herself = a provocative word, I know, but my view - that Private Eye parodied her with a story "Kiri sings the Sex Pistols". But if your tastes are more generous than mine, I have no problem with that. For myself, I don't know how many listening hours I have left, and I don't want to waste them.

Oh, and many thanks for your hard labour on my behalf. There are some I don't know at all - Hynninen, Graves, Valente.
Lance, you took me in completely! :lol:

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by maestrob » Tue Dec 01, 2020 12:26 pm

barney wrote:
Tue Dec 01, 2020 11:58 am
I can heartily recommend a CD that just came to me, A Baroque Christmas by the Australian Chamber Choir, a "pick of the pops from the late 1400s to the end of the Baroque period". 17 tracks from live concerts. Starts with des Pres via the likes of Pretorious, Sweelink, Scheidt, Victoria, Gabrieli. It's on the small, independent Move label.
see more here: http://www.move.com.au/disc/a-baroque-christmas
That one intrigues me too, Barney, as I love obscure choral music. Couldn't find the disc at the two websites suggested by the label's website yet, but I'll keep an eye out. Thanks!

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by barney » Tue Dec 01, 2020 4:42 pm

It was released late last month, so it should be available. Perhaps send an email to Readings, a big Melbourne retailer, which is on that website I linked to.

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by maestrob » Wed Dec 02, 2020 11:37 am

barney wrote:
Tue Dec 01, 2020 4:42 pm
It was released late last month, so it should be available. Perhaps send an email to Readings, a big Melbourne retailer, which is on that website I linked to.
Thanks, Barney, I may do that. In the meantime, American amazon has it available for streaming thankfully, so I'll investigate further. Perhaps that means that hard copies will arrive here soon as well. Our market is a bit larger, so I suspect they'll have to manufacture a larger quantity to satisfy anticipated demand in America. Do hope it sells well.

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by slofstra » Wed Dec 02, 2020 3:37 pm

In the early years of burning CDs, when it was still quite a novelty, I would burn a compilation CD each Christmas and give them to clients, family and friends. They did get played a lot and were quite appreciated.
As the novelty wore off, I gave up the practice, but I ended up with seven compilation CDs over 7 years.
After all that was said and done, I owned 100 or so Christmas CDs, and had used perhaps a third of them for my compilations. Most were too horrible to ever listen to more than once, and the classical crossovers were among the absolute worst, surpassed only by such cheap cash-in's as the Chicago (the band) Christmas CD. And Carly Simon ... one of the worst ever.

Another one I couldn't stand, for the most part, was Andrea Bocelli. Lovely timbre, but he gave me the willies whenever the notes got above his comfort spot. The notable exception is a duet with Celine Dion called "the Prayer" which by now is so ubiquitous that if I never hear it again, I'm good. Lifetime quote already exceeded.

The one crossover that did work was the King's Singers, especially their version of the Shaker melody, "the Gift".
Other favourites - Oscar Peterson's Christmas CD - pour a glass of mulled wine, pull up a chair to the Christmas tree if you have one, put that CD on, and you are in Christmas heaven. I don't know if it works for solstice time holidays other than Christmas, but it well might.
Maddy Prior's Carnival Band Christmas CD was another favourite, for one and all, hearkening to folk music and traditions observed in a time that goes back so far, it probably never actually existed, leastways, not as imagined.

Given all the knowledge I had acquired on Christmas CDs, I wrote an extended review of a dozen or so CDs, submitted to our local paper to see what the editor thought, and he ran a double page spread, which quite a few people used to make purchases, as I heard through the grapevine. I also posted that review in the Corner Pub. Let me see if I can find it.

Yes, here it is. Some of the album images are now missing, but no matter.
http://www.classicalmusicguide.com/view ... 11&t=19914

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by slofstra » Wed Dec 02, 2020 4:04 pm

And here is what I do now. The last playlist I made with Christmas songs was in 2018. It contains mostly videos of choirs and sentimental pop selections.

https://gesprek.net/2018/12/04/christmas-songs-2018/

Pretty happy with this one, also.

https://gesprek.net/2016/12/07/traditio ... ongs-2016/

Here is the kind of thing I really like in terms of Christmas music. You can use this as a gauge as to what's in the above lists. Mind you, there is a skip button, as well.


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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by maestrob » Thu Dec 03, 2020 10:39 am

Henry, that was amazingly informative, thank-you!

I will take some time during the season to study your recommendations in more detail, but I agree with you about many of them on your 2007 list, including The Chieftans, The Kings' Singers and the Wyndam Hill selections. I grew up with the Perry Como, and have owned it in various formats since I got the original version as a Christmas present in mono when I was five years old. Oscar Peterson's album is also a treasure, as is nearly everything he's ever done. We had a chance to see him live here in NYC at Birdland near the end of his career: the atmosphere was electrifying!

In 1987, the first year of stereo television broadcasts, I purchased a stereo video recorder for the unbelievably high price of $800 (real money in those days). That year, everyone jumped on the bandwagon to take advantage of the new technology, and I recorded videos by Pavarotti, Domingo, James Galway, Julie Andrews with Domingo and John Denver, featuring the Kings' Singers, Jessye Norman, Kiri Te Kanewa, and church services from England, all live events, plus other miscellaneous programs. Of course those tapes were long ago transferred to DVDs, and remain treasures in my library, infinitely more entertaining than the studio CDs issued by the same artists at the same time.

Thanks again for such a comprehensive post. :D

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by slofstra » Thu Dec 03, 2020 12:49 pm

maestrob wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 10:39 am
Henry, that was amazingly informative, thank-you!

I will take some time during the season to study your recommendations in more detail, but I agree with you about many of them on your 2007 list, including The Chieftans, The Kings' Singers and the Wyndam Hill selections. I grew up with the Perry Como, and have owned it in various formats since I got the original version as a Christmas present in mono when I was five years old. Oscar Peterson's album is also a treasure, as is nearly everything he's ever done. We had a chance to see him live here in NYC at Birdland near the end of his career: the atmosphere was electrifying!

In 1987, the first year of stereo television broadcasts, I purchased a stereo video recorder for the unbelievably high price of $800 (real money in those days). That year, everyone jumped on the bandwagon to take advantage of the new technology, and I recorded videos by Pavarotti, Domingo, James Galway, Julie Andrews with Domingo and John Denver, featuring the Kings' Singers, Jessye Norman, Kiri Te Kanewa, and church services from England, all live events, plus other miscellaneous programs. Of course those tapes were long ago transferred to DVDs, and remain treasures in my library, infinitely more entertaining than the studio CDs issued by the same artists at the same time.

Thanks again for such a comprehensive post. :D
Thanks very much, Brian, for those comments. It seems that our taste along the holiday season line run in similar directions. I appreciate the affirmation as I know I'm posting a bit off-axis to the normal range of content on the site. One thing I will never do is tell you how much I like 'Wilco', for example.

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by barney » Thu Dec 03, 2020 1:04 pm

Yes, Henry, even I read it despite my disdain for Christmas compilations. Well done indeed, very thorough. Mind you, I still wouldn't want most of them, but we're all allowed our preferences. :D

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by slofstra » Thu Dec 03, 2020 1:37 pm

barney wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 1:04 pm
Yes, Henry, even I read it despite my disdain for Christmas compilations. Well done indeed, very thorough. Mind you, I still wouldn't want most of them, but we're all allowed our preferences. :D
Nowhere do you see recording artists dialing in performances for cash more apparently than with Christmas music. It is a minefield and I negotiated it in order to "produce" the Christmas CDs that I gave to friends and family. So I became knowledgeable in the area unwittingly. Still, there is a lot of very beautiful music within the genre.
I would think, Barney, that you might like John Rutter's compilation of traditional Christmas carols performed by the Cambridge Singers, even if you're not a fan of Rutter's own settings all that much.

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by barney » Fri Dec 04, 2020 7:16 am

slofstra wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 1:37 pm
barney wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 1:04 pm
Yes, Henry, even I read it despite my disdain for Christmas compilations. Well done indeed, very thorough. Mind you, I still wouldn't want most of them, but we're all allowed our preferences. :D
Nowhere do you see recording artists dialing in performances for cash more apparently than with Christmas music. It is a minefield and I negotiated it in order to "produce" the Christmas CDs that I gave to friends and family. So I became knowledgeable in the area unwittingly. Still, there is a lot of very beautiful music within the genre.
I would think, Barney, that you might like John Rutter's compilation of traditional Christmas carols performed by the Cambridge Singers, even if you're not a fan of Rutter's own settings all that much.
I very well might. I do like some Rutter, and for him it is certainly not cross-over music.

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Re: Jonas Kaufmann 2-CD set, "It's Christmas"

Post by slofstra » Sat Dec 05, 2020 5:39 pm

barney wrote:
Fri Dec 04, 2020 7:16 am
slofstra wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 1:37 pm
barney wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 1:04 pm
Yes, Henry, even I read it despite my disdain for Christmas compilations. Well done indeed, very thorough. Mind you, I still wouldn't want most of them, but we're all allowed our preferences. :D
Nowhere do you see recording artists dialing in performances for cash more apparently than with Christmas music. It is a minefield and I negotiated it in order to "produce" the Christmas CDs that I gave to friends and family. So I became knowledgeable in the area unwittingly. Still, there is a lot of very beautiful music within the genre.
I would think, Barney, that you might like John Rutter's compilation of traditional Christmas carols performed by the Cambridge Singers, even if you're not a fan of Rutter's own settings all that much.
I very well might. I do like some Rutter, and for him it is certainly not cross-over music.
The problem with some of Rutter's settings for me is that my ears were so attenuated to the traditional settings, it almost seems as if he's committing sacrilege. On repeated listening though, you do realize he has something going for him.

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