The Glorious Sound of Christmas

by: Eugene Ormandy

Why do people keep buying The Glorious Sound of Christmas, recorded in 1962, when there's such a profusion of other holiday albums out there? Because it quite simply remains one of the very best. There are no bonus tracks here to augment the original LP; what we get are 14 well-known carols, lasting about 45 minutes in total. But it's 45 minutes of orchestral and vocal perfection. In no way did conductor Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra phone this one in; the fabled "Philadelphia Sound" was burnished to full sheen for this recording, and the expert, rather Disneyesque arrangements by Arthur Harris give every player in the orchestra something to do. Some of the carols are instrumentally performed, but others feature the Temple University Concert Choir, delivering what must have been the performance of a lifetime for many of its members. You're likely to find that your college choir didn't sound anything like this; the big octave leap for the sopranos in "O Holy Night" that proves the undoing of so many choruses here becomes just one more glittering detail. Credit is also due to remix and remastering engineers Laura Harth and John Johnson, who have accomplished the rare feat of not losing a step as top-quality LP sonics are transferred to compact disc. Unsure about what to buy for a CD of Christmas favorites? You can't go wrong with The Glorious Sound of Christmas.

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