Mstation Classical Reviews

Valid RSS pre Dec 04 reviews are here

Mon, 03 Dec 2007

Almost Christmas

As I write the Christmas lights are about to come on in places where there is still a little good taste about such things. It is, if not exactly exciting, at least a pleasure to look forward to - a little treat in the early gloom of winter. Soon too, the hours of daylight will start to lengthen again and we will be cruising towards the seasonal delights of spring and summer.

For many years, I have spent Christmas in France and they do a few things differently there. They have Christmas dinner on the evening of the 24th and open their presents late that same night. Christmas day is very quiet and on Boxing Day they are back to work. Christmas cards are not so frequently sent and are fairly kitsch when they do. The shops selling CD's also don't have collections of Carols at all that I've seen. It's not too strange: these things were the inventions or updatings of the English mercantile bourgeoisie and could be expected to be rejected out of hand.

Two box sets have caught my eye however. The first is called Joyaux Baroques (presumably Joyous Barocque in Anglophone countries... or something similar if I've mispelled the "b" word). It's from Marc Minkowski and the Musiciens du Louvre and so you know it is going to be something nice before opening it. There are four CD's with selections from Charpentier, Lully, Rameau and another beginning with "M". ahem. All of this comes from Erato.

The other is Musique Sacree (Sacred Music, as you guessed) and features Mr. Haydn, and is presented by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Concentus musicus Wien. This comes on four CD's as well and is out on Teldec. Both of these labels are Warners by the way.

If you are living in a politically correct country where your own culture is being denied so that it doesn' offend newcomers, you might like to play this second selection loudly so that you can explain to doorknockers what that aspect of Christmas is about. My experience is that newcomers are interested rather than offended.

I hope that you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and that you find a civilised country in which to smoke your cigars.

[] permanent link