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Another Night Before Christmas / Simon Callow, Gavin Sutherland

Liszt / Callow / Rte Concert Orch / Sutherland
Release Date: 11/15/2011 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572744  
Composer:  John FoxBryan KellyPhilip LaneMatthew Curtis,   ... 
Performer:  Simon CallowMia Cooper
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTÉ Concert OrchestraRoyal Ballet Sinfonia
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Conceptually this release is a bit of an oddity, as the rather un-Naxosy cover suggests, but Christmas is a time of surprises. Most of the music on this festively generous disc lies well within the boundaries of light music, and rightly so, many will consider. Adam Saunders' Fairytale Sleighride, Angela Morley's MGM-esque Snowride, even Philip Lane's treacly arrangement of Tchaikovsky's Troika (from his piano suite The Seasons), all fall into this category, but each is well-crafted and likely to please those game for seasonal merriment.

Matthew Curtis's Christmas Rush is more Ealing than MGM, has excellent brass band potential and is one of the instrumental highlights of the disc, along with
Read more Gordon Jacob's fine orchestration, seamlessly added to by Philip Lane, of some of the pieces from Liszt's not-always-Christmassy Weihnachtsbaum suite for piano. Lane's own Old Christmas Music adroitly brings the distant past into the present in an easily digestible form. John Fox's Carol Fantasia is a straightforward medley of chestnuts; it is Christmas Cracker by Thomas Hewitt Jones, former BBC Young Composer competition winner, that is the best of the various carol arrangements, bringing the CD to an appropriately rousing end.

The two works which give the disc its ungainly title both have parts for narrator, in this case the eminently dependable Simon Callow. Lane's Another Night Before Christmas sets a familiar children's poem slightly modernised by Carol Ann Duffy. Again, Lane's music is a bit syrupy, the piano part rather clichéd, but families will enjoy Callow's avuncular reading of the genial poem in any case. Brian Kelly's compression of Dickens' much-loved Scrooge story is in another league, dramatically and evocatively orchestrated. Kelly's Improvisations on Christmas Carols was one of the best works on a previous Naxos release of Christmas music, which also featured a couple of pieces by Philip Lane and Victor Hely-Hutchinson's sine qua non of the genre, A Carol Symphony. Scrooge is sparklingly read by Callow, whose narration alternates with the music, giving diminutive listeners ample space to follow the story. In fact, Kelly's version goes no further than the Ghost of Christmas Past and turns the final third of the work into general rejoicing at the Fezziwigs' Christmas ball. Before you can say "What the Dickens?", everyone is having a marvellous Christmas, just as it should be.

The recording is very good, especially the RTÉ tracks. Philip Lane's liner notes briefly summarise the composers and their pieces, intriguingly describing himself in the third person in the process. In sum, a good stocking-filler or cockle-warmer, and a lot more appealing than Christmas telly.

-- Byzantion, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Carol Fantasia by John Fox
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTÉ Concert Orchestra
2. Scrooge by Bryan Kelly
Performer:  Simon Callow (Narrator), Mia Cooper (Violin)
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: 2010 
3. Old Christmas Music by Philip Lane
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Ballet Sinfonia
4. Another Night Before Christmas by Philip Lane
Performer:  Simon Callow (Narrator)
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTÉ Concert Orchestra
5. Christmas Rush by Matthew Curtis
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTÉ Concert Orchestra
6. Christmas Tree Suite, Op. 21: Waltz by Vladimir I. Rebikov
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Ballet Sinfonia
7. Weihnachtsbaum for Piano, S 186: no 5, Scherzoso by Franz Liszt
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Period: Romantic  
Written: 1874-1876; Rome, Italy 
Notes: Arrangement: Gordon Jacob and Philip Lane 
8. Weihnachtsbaum for Piano, S 186: no 6, Carillon by Franz Liszt
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874-1876; Rome, Italy 
Notes: Arrangement: Gordon Jacob and Philip Lane 
9. Weihnachtsbaum for Piano, S 186: no 10, Ehemals! by Franz Liszt
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874-1876; Rome, Italy 
Notes: Arrangement: Gordon Jacob and Philip Lane 
10. Weihnachtsbaum for Piano, S 186: no 12, Polnisch by Franz Liszt
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874-1876; Rome, Italy 
Notes: Arrangement: Gordon Jacob and Philip Lane 
11. Fairytale Sleighride by Adam Saunders
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Ballet Sinfonia
12. Snowride by Angela Morley
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
13. Les saisons, Op. 37b: no 11, Novembre "Troika" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
14. Christmas Cracker by Thomas Hewitt Jones
Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 

Sound Samples

Carol Fantasia
Scrooge
Old Christmas Music: I. Anon. 16th Century: Gaudete
Old Christmas Music: II. Peter Warlock: The First Mercy
Old Christmas Music: III. French trad.: Bring a Torch
Old Christmas Music: IV. Peter Warlock: Bethlehem Down
Old Christmas Music: V. Mykola Leontovych: Carol of the Bells
Another Night Before Christmas
Christmas Rush
Christmas Tree Suite, Op. 21: I. Waltz
Weihnachtsbaum, S186/R71 (excerpts) (arr. G. Jacob and P. Lane as Christmas Tree Suite for orchestra): V. Scherzoso (Little Scherzo, "Lighting the Tree")
Weihnachtsbaum, S186/R71 (excerpts) (arr. G. Jacob and P. Lane as Christmas Tree Suite for orchestra): VI. Carillon (Chimes)
Weihnachtsbaum, S186/R71 (excerpts) (arr. G. Jacob and P. Lane as Christmas Tree Suite for orchestra): X. Ehemals (Old Times)
Weihnachtsbaum, S186/R71 (excerpts) (arr. G. Jacob and P. Lane as Christmas Tree Suite for orchestra): XII. Polnisch (Polish)
Fairytale Sleighride
Snowride
Les saisons (The Seasons), Op. 37b: XI. November: Troika (arr. P. Lane for orchestra)
Christmas Cracker

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