I’ve never been to Vienna but I’ve seen lots of pictures and if ever a place was designed to evoke a Christmas feel it is surely this one. The gorgeous old buildings decked out in lights and snow, the beautiful decorations and those choir boys, it all makes me want to be there.
Children and Christmas are a perfect pairing and never more so than when it’s the Vienna Boys’ Choir. Of the choir’s many Christmas CD’s I have three and all three are very different from each other.
The first one, from 2003, is titled The Christmas Album and has a photo of several smiling boys around a small candle-lit tree. There is a small, white Teddy bear dressed in a WSK uniform standing in front of the tree and I want one of those. If you should ever see one somewhere, tell me.
Anyway, the songs on the album are of the very popular variety. Songs like Jingle Bells, O Holy Night, Stille Nacht and the best version of Little Drummer Boy I’ve ever heard.
They also include a powerful version of Suo Gan with English lyrics and John Lennon’s Happy Christmas (War Is Over).
There’s no need to describe the singing. It’s the Vienna Boys’ Choir so of course it’s delightful.
The second CD has more of an English feel to it. This one is from 1995 and is titled Christmas Angels. It starts off with Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols and this time has all 11 songs (or 12 if you count 4a and 4b as separate). One of my very favorite songs from this group is That Yonge Child. The vocals on this song are cleverly staggered with each verse repeated in such a way that it makes an echo-y effect. It’s pretty cool.
For more English carols there are Coventry Carol, We’ve Been Awhile A-Wandering and Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming. Of course there is also Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, Adeste Fideles and a bunch more popular tunes.
My third Vienna Boys Choir CD is titled Christmas With The Vienna Boys’ Choir and was recorded in 1993. This could have been called A Mozart and Bach Christmas, or perhaps, Christmas for Smart People.
It starts off with Mozart’s Mass in C Major K. 317 “Coronation”, a six-part Mass with Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei.
The Bach portion is Cantata “Ich Hatte Viel Bekummernis", a two part composition with sections like Sinfonia, Corro and Recitativo.
It’s very nice but somehow it just doesn’t say Christmas to me. I prefer more popular carols to put me in the Christmas mood.
Still, I know I’ll be listening to the Vienna Boys’ Choir this Christmas morning.