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5.0 out of 5 stars Baroque with a message., 21 Dec 2006
Captain Kirk (Here in the U K) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Christmas Goes Baroque 2 (Audio CD)
This is a lovely CD of Christmas music which is both fun to listen to and really does convey the spirit and message of the season of goodwill. All the arrangements are by Peter Breiner and performed beautifully by the orchestra. The music is of course performed in the style of the Baroque composers and the whole album is meant to make Christmas music in the Baroque style "fun" and it works very well.

Peter Breiner is a great arranger but he is also a brilliant pianist in the field of classical music and jazz.The interpretations of these arrangements by the orchestra are most enjoyable and the quality of the sound on this budget priced CD from Naxos is quite startling. Crystal clear sound with great stereo separation makes for an almost concert hall sound in your own living room. Every instrument can be heard to great effect as these beautiful melodies are performed in the style of the great composers of yesteryear.

This is a nice CD to enjoy during your festive celebrations creating an atmosphere of Christmas's from long ago - even though some of the carols are by quite modern composers. At this price you could also afford to treat yourself to Volume 1 in the series by Peter Breiner and the CSSR State Philhamonic Orchestra which is also terrific value for money.

If I had to choose between the 2 albums, I would have to say that for me, Volume 2 has the edge although the 2 CD's compliment each other very well.

Great Christmas music to enjoy at any time of the year.

Happy holidays and happy listening!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm dreaming of a white G-String, 28 Nov 2009
Marshall Lord (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
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This second collection of old and modern Christmas music rearranged to the style of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi is even more amusing than the first (Link: Christmas Goes Baroque) and is my favourite Christmas CD.

The arrangements are mostly very clever and almost all of them are either hauntingly beautiful, very funny if you have a musical sense of humour, or both.

Let me paraphrase the old joke that an intellectual is someone who can listen to the overture to "William Tell" without thinking of "The Lone Ranger". The best test I can imagine for whether you would appreciate this CD is:

* If the William Tell overture is more likely to give you a mental image of a troop of cavalry at the trot than the Lone Ranger and Tonto, or

* If you recognise the birdsong, lightning and thunder, and the dog going "Bow Wow" when you listen to Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons",

then you should buy this CD at once.

The CD is book-ended by a charming and amusing baroque version of "De Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy" which gives me a politically-incorrect image of an orchestra of plantation hands from the US deep south.

Many of the pieces which follow merge a well known carol with a baroque classic, particularly Bach's Brandenburg concertos.

For example, "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas" is merged with Bach's "Air on a G String" from Suite no 3 in D (also known as the Hamlet cigar music), hence my joke in the title of this review about "I'm dreaming of a White G-string."

Similarly, "Angels from the realms of Glory" is merged with a Brandenburg Concerto theme: an alternative title for this review would have been "Angels from the Realms of Brandenburg".

"Hark the Herald Angels Sing" is re-interpreted to begin in a minor key as a haunting lament, though it gradually gets more cheerful through the verses, and reverts to a major key, eventually becoming a cheerful fugue in the last verse.

"Greensleeves" (as the tune for the carol "What child is this?") gets a similar, and hauntingly beautiful, treatment. Because "Greensleeves" is my personal template for what Tudor music sounds like, the elaborate finale still sounded to me like it should have come from the court of Henry VIII rather than the baroque era, but it was still great to listen to.

Probably the funniest piece on the disc was the baroque re-interpretation of the 20th century christmas hit, "Santa Claus is coming to town."

Overall this is a great Christmas CD for any lover of classical music, especially if you have a sense of humour.

The first CD in the series was also released on DVD (link:Various Composers - Christmas Goes Baroque (Breiner) [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]) and I am looking out to see whether this one gets a similar treatment.
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Christmas Goes Baroque 2
Christmas Goes Baroque 2 by Breiner (Audio CD - 2001)
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