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Spirit of Christmas

Two stunning Naxos new releases celebrate the spiritual message of joy, while the ever-popular music of Leroy Anderson includes several pieces that add a dash of festive fun for the Christmas season. Ask your local retailer about these titles.


Berkieta • Jacobs • McVinnie • Clare College Choir Cambridge • Brown

Admired for the sheer beauty of his meditative and mystical music, John Tavener writes of his Ex Maria Virgine, which was dedicated to HRH the Prince of Wales and HRH the Duchess of Cornwall in joyful celebration of their marriage: “I have set both familiar and less well known texts, and linked them with an expanding and contracting phrase ‘Ex Maria Virgine’. This refers to Mary the Mother of God—‘The Eternal Feminine’—and should be sung with great radiance and femininity.” The other, mainly unaccompanied, works reveal Tavener’s response to various poetic texts that also praise the Virgin Mary.

John Tavener Biography & Discography

Ike Hawkersmith, boy soprano (Amahl) • Kirsten Gunlogson, soprano (Mother) • Dean Anthony, tenor (King Kaspar) • Todd Thomas, baritone (King Melchior) • Kevin Short, bass (King Balthasar) • Chicago Symphony Chorus • Nashville Symphony Chorus • Nashville Symphony Orchestra • Alastair Willis, conductor (Amahl and the Night Visitors) • George Mabry, conductor (My Christmas)

Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, the first opera written for television, enjoys more than five hundred performances annually around the world and is immensely popular with amateur groups. A crippled boy, Amahl, and his mother are visited by the three Kings who seek the newborn Jesus. Deciding to give his crutch to the Christ child, he is miraculously healed, and joyfully accompanies the Kings to give thanks. Sung in English, brimming with tuneful melodies for both soloists and chorus, the opera is a humorous and poignant Christmas classic beloved by people of all ages.

Gian Carlo Menotti Biography & Discography

Leroy Anderson Christmas Music
BBC Concerto Orchestra • Leonard Slatkin

This special release is a musical Christmas stocking full of sheer delights: Sleigh Ride, Horse and Buggy, Song of the Bells, Suite of Carols (version for brass), The Waltzing Cat, A Christmas Festival, The Golden Years, Suite of Carols (version for woodwinds), China Doll, Bugler’s Holiday & Suite of Carols (version for strings).

“When it comes to Christmas music this year it’ll be hard to beat this new release from Naxos featuring some of the world’s best-loved holiday classics by Leroy Anderson.”
– Bob McQuiston, RECOMMENDED Classical Lost and Found (

Available in North America only

Alistair Young, piano • David McCallum, trumpet • BBC Concerto Orchestra • Leonard Slatkin

On the Suite of Carols for String Orchestra, Anderson commented: “I didn’t just want to make medleys of them (the carols), that’s the usual thing…In treating them instrumentally, I thought I’d try to get something that would give a little scope and be a little different.”

“this second instalment is one that no lover of Anderson’s music will want to be without.”
– Andrew Lamb, Gramophone

“Anderson’s brand of melodious charm is timeless, and you’ll doubtless find many very enjoyable discoveries on this well played, well engineered disc. Kudos also go to Slatkin for lavishing such care and enthusiasm on “pops” repertoire. Easily recommendable.”
– David Hurwitz, 9/9 RATING ClassicsToday

Alasdair Malloy, solo typewriter • Catherine Moore, solo trumpet • BBC Concerto Orchestra • Leonard Slatkin

“This, at least for me, is possibly the ‘best’ of the three Naxos CDs of Leroy Anderson’s music released to date…It is self-evident that Leonard Slatkin and the ‘band’ enjoy themselves playing this music.”
– John France, MusicWeb International

Sleigh Ride (1948) with its jingle bells, equine SFXs and whip snaps will most likely remain Leroy’s most popular creation. Let’s face it, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without it!”
– Bob McQuiston, AUDIOPHILE RATING Classical Lost and Found (

“The Suite of Carols is imaginative writing of a high order lifting the usual arrangement of these popular yuletide songs to an altogether different level.”
– Ian Lace, MusicWeb International

Kim Criswell, soprano • William Dazely, baritone • BBC Concerto Orchestra • Leonard Slatkin

“Volume four closes with the full nine-minute version of A Christmas Festival (1950), which is an exceptional holiday overture based on familiar tunes, and a welcome departure from those tired seasonal offerings record companies dust off each year. It ends triumphantly as the organ joins the orchestra in an earthshaking finale that combines Oh Come All Ye Faithful with Joy to the World and Jingle Bells, bringing this release to a glorious conclusion.”
– Bob McQuiston, AUDIOPHILE RATING Classical Lost and Found (

Kim Criswell, soprano • William Dazely, baritone • BBC Concerto Orchestra • Leonard Slatkin

This fifth volume in Naxos’s series has just been released. His Suite of Carols for Woodwind Ensemble includes both well known and less familiar Christmas tunes, each given the magical Anderson touch: Angels in our Fields, O Sanctissima, O come O come Emmanuel, Little Children, Coventry Carol and Patapan. The version for stings is available on Volume 2 (8.559356).

Leroy Anderson Biography & Discography

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