Skip to main content

 Favourites  Christmas Releases 2017

Christmas Releases 2017Following my piece on the Sistine Chapel's new album of Advent and Christmas music last week, quite a few of you have got in touch asking for further inspiration for festive listening, so I decided to put together a brief run-down of my ten favourite new seasonal releases. From eclectic early music collections to spruced-up old favourites, there should be a little something for everyone's Christmas stocking (but please do keep the enquiries coming if there's nothing here that takes your fancy!).

The King's Singers Christmas Presence

The King's Singers

Recorded live in King’s College Chapel in 2015, this programme offers a typical King’s Singers blend of Renaissance and twentieth-century works (including music by Lassus, Byrd, Poulenc and Howells) alongside new arrangements of festive classics such as Jingle-Bells and Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

In Dulci Jubilo: Music for the Christmas season by Buxtehude and Friends

Theatre of Voices, Paul Hillier

For something a little more off the beaten track, try Paul Hillier’s retelling of the Christmas story, which weaves a compelling narrative sequence from music by Buxtehude and his contemporaries, including Johann Christoph Bach, Sweelinck, Giest and Tunder. The eight singers of the Theatre of Voices are recorded in appropriately crisp, clear sound.

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC, Hi-Res+ FLAC

Riemuitkaamme! A Finnish Christmas

Jan Lehtola (organ), Helsinki Chamber Choir, Nils Schweckendiek

As the centenary of Finnish Independence falls today, it seems an apt time to fly the flag for The Helsinki Chamber Choir’s jubilant (the title translates as ‘Rejoice!’) programme of festive music by Finnish composers including Sibelius, Rautavaara, Madetoja and Kuusisto. Tchaikovsky and Berlioz also put in guest-appearances!

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Graun: Christmas Oratorio

Arcis Vocalists & Baroque Ensemble L’arpa festante, Thomas Gropper

The date of Graun’s Uns ist ein Kind geboren may be uncertain (the sole surviving copy of the manuscript gives no indication), but there’s no doubts as to its melodic richness and imaginative orchestration. It’s given a persuasive second outing on record by L’arpa festante and some stylish soloists.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

A Cavalier Christmas

The Ebor Singers, Chelys Consort of Viols, Paul Gameson

The York-based vocal consort explore Christmas music from the time of the English Civil War, as Charles I defied Puritan opposition to festivities; the programme includes works by Gibbons, Byrd, William and Henry Lawes, John Jenkins and Richard Dering.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Joyeux Noël: French Christmas Music

Christian Lambour (organ), Aradia Ensemble & La Fantasia, Kevin Mallon & Rien Voskuilen

The Canadian period-instrument ensemble turn in classy performances of Charpentier’s Te Deum and Messe de Minuit) and Michel Corrette’s Six Symphonies de Noël, interspersed with organ works by Dandrieu, Balbastre, Boëly, Guilmant, Dubois and Franck.

Available Formats: 3 CDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Chilcott: In Winter’s Arms

Choralis, Gretchen Kuhrmann

Five seasonal choral works by a composer who described himself as ‘a sucker for Christmas!’ in a Presto interview a couple of years ago: Wenceslas, Jesus springing, My perfect stranger, The Nine Gifts, and the first-ever recording of the Gloria, which was premiered by Choralis two years ago.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Lo how a rose e'er bloometh

The Queen's Six

Favourite carols (several in David Willcocks’s classic arrangements) sit cheek-by jowl with new works by Thomas Hewitt Jones, Richard Madden & Matthew Coleridge on this beautifully-sung collection, which also includes music by Tallis, Tye, Byrd, Holst and Sullivan.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Christmas with Canterbury Cathedral Girls’ Choir

Canterbury Cathedral Girls’ Choir

There’s great charm and warmth to this debut disc from Canterbury’s female choir (who performed their first Evensong in the cathedral just three years ago) – the mostly familiar Christmas songs and carols are freshened up with new orchestrations which add just the right amount of spice.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker (DVD)

Lauren Cuthbertson (Clara), Federico Bonelli (Prince), Francesca Hayward (Sugar-Plum Fairy), Alexander Campbell (Nutcracker), Gary Avis (Drosselmeyer) The Royal Ballet, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Boris Gruzin

The latest revival of Peter Wright’s chocolate-box production of Tchaikovsky’s Hoffmann-inspired Christmas classic comes up as fresh as paint here, with an outstanding debut from Francesca Hayward as The Sugar-Plum Fairy.

Available Format: DVD Video

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker (Blu-ray)

Lauren Cuthbertson (Clara), Federico Bonelli (Prince), Francesca Hayward (Sugar-Plum Fairy), Alexander Campbell (Nutcracker), Gary Avis (Drosselmeyer), The Royal Ballet, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Boris Gruzin

The latest revival of Peter Wright’s chocolate-box production of Tchaikovsky’s Hoffmann-inspired Christmas classic comes up as fresh as paint here, with an outstanding debut from Francesca Hayward as The Sugar-Plum Fairy.

Available Format: Blu-ray