Favorite Holiday Classics = KORNGOLD: Prelude and Serenade from the Snowman; TCHAIKOVSKY: 2 Pieces from the Nutcracker; Vivaldi: Four Seasons—Winter; RESPIGHI: Botticelli Triptych—Adoration of the Magi; CORELLI: Christmas Concerto; MENOTTI: Amahl and the Night Visitors—Introduction, March, and Shepherd’s Dance; PROKOFIEV: Lieutenant Kije—Troika; PACHELBEL: Canon; WALDTEUFEL: Skater’s Waltz; HANDEL: Messiah—Pifa; RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: The Snow Maiden, “Dance of the Tumblers”—Michael Ludwig, violin/ Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra/ JoAnn Falletta, conductor—[available from www.bpo.org], 67:15 ****:
This is a holiday concert recorded in 2007 by a person I have referred to often as far and away the finest female conductor in the world—and one of the best conductors—JoAnn Falletta. She and her two crackerjack ensembles, the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Virginia Symphony, are constantly turning out superb work in both the esoteric and standard repertories. I can think of no recording of hers that I would not be proud to own, and there are two or three that take pride of place in my collection.
Here we are talking about Christmas chestnuts, and this program is a fine one. Concerts like this are rarely given as much time and effort as the pieces might otherwise receive, and so no one should expect deep thought or standard-setting performances. But as Christmas music of the season it works very well and is nicely put together. Even the folks at the BPO must have thought it worth little packaging effort as there are no notes or booklet, just a track listing. But the sound here is very, very good, though I can detect a bit of closeness on the stage, but the sound is vibrant, the performances cheery and well-selected, and if you want a “classical” holiday disc in your collection, this one is certainly competitive.
— Steven Ritter