Various Artists | Christmas at Downton Abbey (Warner Bros.)

cd downtown-abbeyOne could easily envision any one of these songs as the backdrop to the forthcoming Christmas episode.

 

 

 

While U.S. Downton Abbey fans await Season 5 to begin this coming January, the widely popular series has just wrapped the season in the U.K., where its finale has already aired. As Brits await the traditional Christmas episode to air this coming December, those of us in the States are left to muddle along in the always-unpredictable internet minefield: nervously contemplating what this season will bring and, at the same time, trying to avoid spoilers on Facebook and random publications from our friends across the pond.

In the meantime, Warner Brothers and the cast of Downton Abbey have put together a two-disc compilation of Christmas music that captures the spirit of the abbey. Of the 45 tracks featured, only 8 actually feature members of the cast. One of these is “‘Twas the Night before Christmas,” a spoken-word offering by Jim Carter (Mr. Carson). The remaining tracks are Christmas songs from the Warner Music classics’ archive, with the elegant and wafting sound of each song characteristic of the period. One could easily envision any one of them as the backdrop to the forthcoming Christmas episode.

Introducing each disc are two new Christmas versions of the Downton Abbey Theme. Without a doubt, the theme song, no matter which version, rises to the top on any album, and this isn’t any different. Even though most of the songs are pretty traditional, and leaning toward predictable—the point of this album. If you’re looking for a complete collection of Christmas tunes to soundtrack your entire Christmas day, look no further. One might best describe this two-disc set as the quintessential Christmas album. Tracks such as “March” and “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” (both from The Nutcracker Suite) make the album fun and whimsical, in addition to giving listeners that happy, traditional Christmas feel. Overall, Christmas at Downtown Abbey reminded me a lot of Disney’s “Fantasia” and other holiday memories from my childhood.

I’m usually not a fan of Christmas albums. In fact, I could count on one hand the number I’ve heard in my lifetime that were actually worthy enough to be memorable. With that said, this would have to be one of them. I’d be hard pressed to find a track that doesn’t sound amazing. Simply put, the quantity and sheer quality of Christmas songs packed into this two-CD set will man your entire Christmas party for hours without needing anything else. A+ | Jennifer Manjarez


Track listing:

Disc 1: The Budapest City Orchestra and the Budapest Choral Voices; “The Downton Christmas Suite Pt. 1”; Julian Ovenden: “O Holy Night”; Elizabeth McGovern: “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”; Elizabeth McGovern & Julian Ovenden: “The First Noel”; Julian Ovenden: “The Sussex Carol”; Julian Ovenden & Katie Marshall: “12 Days of Christmas”; Julian Ovenden: “Slient Night”; Dame Kiri Te Kanawa: “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”; Choir of Kings College, Cambridge: “In the Bleak Midwinter”; Dame Kiri Te Kanawa: “O, Little Town of Bethlehem”; Choir of Kings College, Cambridge: “Once in Royal David’s City”; Choir of Kings College, Cambridge: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”; Choir of Kings College, Cambridge: “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful”; William Christie: “Charpentier Messe de Minuit pour Noel, Kyrie”; Choir of Kings College, Cambridge: “Ding Dong! Merrily on High; Dame Kiri Te Kanawa: “Good King Wenceslas”; Choir of Kings College, Cambridge: “While Shepherds Watched”; Choir of Kings College, Cambridge: “Away in a Manger”; Choir of Kings College, Cambridge: “In Dulci Jubilo”; Libera: “Panis Angelicus”; Il Giardino Armonico: “Christmas Concerto 1st Movement, Vivaldi”; Alexander Lazarev: “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker Suite”; Jim Carter: “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”

Disc 2: The Budapest City Orchestra and the Budapest Choral Voices: “The Downton Christmas Suite Pt. 2”; Joel Cohen: “Joy to the World”; Choir of Kings College, Cambridge: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; “Choir of Kings College, Cambridge: “Angels, from the realms of Glory”; Nikolaus Harnoncourt: “Handel Messiah Hallelujah Chorus”; Dame Kiri Te Kanawa: “The Holly and the Ivy; Thomas Hampson: “Go, Tell It on the Mountain”; Alexander Lazarev: “March from The Nutcracker Suite”; Dame Kiri Te Kanawa: “Tannenbaum”; Dame Kiri Te Kanawa: “I Saw Three Ships”; Carleton Etherington & Benjamin Nicholas: “When Christ Was Born of Mary Free”; Choir of Kings College, Cambridge: “Adam Lay Ybounden”; Choir of Kings College, Cambridge: “The First Noel”; Andrew Parrot, Taverner Choir & Taverner Consort: “We Three Kings of Orient Are”; Choir of Kings College, Cambridge: “O Come, O Come, Emanuel”; Ralph Allwood, Rodolfus Choir & Sam Jenkins: “I Sing the Birth”; William Christie: “Noels sur les Instruments”; Joel Cohen: “Nouvelles, Nouvelles”; Joel Cohen: “Chantons Noel, Menons Joyeuse Vie”; Choir of Kings College, Cambridge: “The Three Kings”; Nikolaus Harnoncourt: “O Thou Tellest Good Tidings to Zion”; Claudio Scimone: “Christmas Concerto 3rd Movement, Corelli”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply