Pure holiday spectacle
Reviewed December 2006
Christmastime Is Here
By Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
Telard Records: 2006
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
To be perfectly honest, not everyone will like this release. It's an over-the-top spectacle that comes awfully close to treacle at times. But in its deliciously balanced combination of classical, choral and jazz traditions, maestro Erich Kunzel has created the sort of glittery holiday extravaganza we once would have gotten from Leonard Bernstein or Eugene Ormandy.
And so those of a certain age will find this album taking them back to Christmases of long ago.
The Indiana University Singing Hoosiers remind of the often-dismissed easy-listening vocal groups of the 1960s, like the Ray Conniff Singers or the Norman Luboff Choir. Lush, thick-pile vocal harmonies that might grate elsewhere on the calendar somehow comfort during the holidays. The cabaret-styled arrangements for singers Tony DeSare and Ann Hampton Callaway recall the classic crooners, while jazz singers John Pizzarelli and Tierney Sutton bring a bit of grittiness that leavens things a bit.
The recording quality is top-notch, and if some of the arrangements are just too much well, it's the holidays, after all.
Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).