Sunday, December 27, 2009

Don't Stop the Christmas Music

Christmas is over, but there's no reason to stop listening to music for the season. Here are some suggestions of things that haven't yet become holiday classics, but which deserve hearing while you're still in the mood.

Written in 1927, A Carol Symphony by British composer Victor Hely-Hutchinson is an honest-to-goodness four-movement symphony based on traditional holiday tunes. It's entertaining as all get-out, and deserves to be played more often this time of year. Of course, Naxos has a recording of A Carol Symphony available.

Though not strictly a Christmas piece, David Lang's Little Match Girl Passion reminds us that this is a time of year to remember the neediest. Lang's 30-minute meditation on Hans Christian Andersen's short story about a poor girl who dies alone in the cold on New Year's Eve received its world premiere at Carnegie Hall in 2007.

Another contemporary American work, John Adams's El Nino (available on CD from Nonesuch and on DVD from Arthaus Musik), uses sacred and secular texts in both English and Spanish to tell the story of the Nativity. 

And then there's A Toolbox Christmas.