Imagine Christmas – Sono Luminus – CD DSL 92216 (Track list below) Various artists – (10/27/17) TT: 38:16 ** 1/2
One of the duties of our stalwart reviewers is to slog through the Christmas music releases for the year. It’s not one of my favorite duties, but I’m always hoping some good will come of the effort, instead of yet another version of Handel’s Messiah or another in the endless collection of Mormon Tabernacle Choir releases of holiday tunes. My idea of perfect Christmas music is Vaughan William’s Hodie.
This year I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the high reliable Sono Luminus label has put together a non-trite holiday album. The bad news is that it’s a bit inconsistent and the styles of each track are a little too broad for everyone’s taste. At less than 40 minutes it’s also a bit stingy on content. Still, the quality can makeup for that.
Sono Luminus has a fine group of artists to chose from, so they’ve given us some nice interpretations of holiday favorites. You’ll find Silent Night with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, Joy to the World, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and many others. Some of the arrangements are superb—Silent Night is divine, bit others are a bit hokey and one is spoken word, which I think, breaks the mood of the disc.
The sound is good on every track, although since Sonos Luminus has distinguished itself with Hi-Resolution music, I was disappointed to find we received a plain old CD. Surround sound on an SACD would have been joyful.
Still, in general, these are fine arrangements of what could have been mundane selections. Silent Night was by far the most interesting track to my ear, breaking the mold of tradition completely but offering a memorable contemporary take on an old favorite. It closes the disc in fine style.
If every track were like Silent Night this would be an enthusiastic recommendation As it is, it’s a pleasant enough collage of jazz, classical and spoken word.
Frosty the Snowman—Ensemble Galilei
December: Christmas—Bruce Levingston
White Christmas—Irina Muresanu & Matei Varga
Holly Jolly Christmas—Jasper String Quartet
Walking in the Air—Ronn McFarlane
‘Twas The Night Before Christmas—Cory Hills
Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town—Kathryn Bates
Christmas Time Is Here—Caleb Nei
Joy to the World—Cuarteto Latinoamericano & Lydia Lewis
Good King Wenceslas—Stewart Goodyear
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas—Skylark Vocal Ensemble
Silent Night—American Contemporary Music Ensemble