Treasure Island at the New Vic Theatre

The New Vic Theatre’s Christmas production (it’s not a panto) (oh no it’s not) is a new adaptation of the famous RL Stevenson book Treasure Island. The book created much of the modern mythology of pirates (maps, Xs marking spots, pieces of eight and wooden legs) and all the trademark piratical images are seen on […]

O’Hooley and Tidow: WinterFolk

In our minds, O’Hooley and Tidow are linked with Kate Rusby: we really admire what Rusby does, but her music is too glum for us to ever listen to. We saw her live once and she joked about her glumness in the run-up to announcing her next song, I Am Sad. Ho ho. Belinda O’Hooley […]

Sarah Darling: Winter Wonderland

Just as Shane Richie puts out a country album, genuine country music singer Darling puts out a Christmas album. They’re all well-known tunes done well, so the only question is how you feel about a set of slow but intimate covers delivered by Darling’s soft and sweet vocals. The album opens with an ok cover […]

Johann Schelle: Christmas Cantatasj

This programme of Classic FM-style sacred music is ideal for people who want some reverential music during the festive period, but don’t want massed choirs yelling “Gloria!” at the top of their lungs while they’re peeling the spuds (the people, not the choirs). Schelle (1648-1701) was the music director at the Church of St Thomas […]

Dolly Parton: I Believe In You

Dolly. It’s impossible to say anything bad about her: rose from nothing, written some classic tunes and knows the value of every single one, but not mean either — she gave the rights to I Will Always Love You (the best-selling single by a woman in music history) to her former manager Porter Wagoner, for […]

Randall Thompson: Requiem

We should have played this sooner: it’s superb and would be a great recording for early Christmas morning (or late Christmas Eve). The sleeve notes say that more than 30 years after Thompson’s death, several of his choral works are performed “with regularity”, and Alleluia (1941) at one point had more copies in print than […]

James Whitbourn: Carolae Music for Christmas

Another Christmas album but like the Septura one last week, mostly not specifically for Christmas. It’s a choral album but Whitbourn is adept at taking magnificent music and making it listener-friendly; this could be music from 500 years ago, contemplating the Christian message and enormity of eternity but in Whitbourn’s hands it’s palatable for modern […]

My First Christmas Album

If you’re looking for a Christmas album that the kids will like but won’t drive you up the wall, try this. It’s one of a series of Naxos CDs that try and introduce children to classical music, My First Complete Ring Cycle and My First Foray into Schoenberg’s Free Atonality being others. (OK, we made […]

Septura: Christmas with Septura

Seven-piece Septura have played a blinder with this album, which presents classic Christmas music played on brass. Septura, a group that brings together London’s leading players “to redefine brass chamber music”, manages to sound both non-brass band-y and non-Christmas-y on an album that offers a brass band playing Christmas music. It’s a Christmas miracle. By […]