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A Classical Kids Christmas.

by Susan Hammond. The Children's Group, Inc. (1400 Bayly St., Ste. 7, Pickering, Ontario, Canada L1W 3R2), 2001. CD, $33.54.

It's December 5, twenty days to go, and already you're weary of the round-the-clock Christmas tunes that have been assaulting your ears on the local radio station since you scraped up the last crumbs of Thanksgiving pie. If this situation sounds familiar, then the latest release from the acclaimed Classical Kids series, A Classical Kids Christmas, will provide a welcome alternative for both you and your children.

Loosely organized around the theme of a town Christmas pageant, the story line seems somewhat disjointed and really serves only to connect the various holiday vignettes, poems and legends. The scenes themselves, however, are charming combinations of beloved carols, classic poetry and original dialogue. Children will find themselves drawn in by the enthusiasm of the actors as they learn about international Christmas traditions, such as how trees came to be decorated with tinsel and the history of Saint Nicholas, all accompanied by classical favorites, "The Nutcracker Suite," Vivaldi's "Winter" and more. It is refreshing in our climate of political correctness to hear the traditional Christmas story recounted including the Wise Men, Shepherds and even the Baby Jesus.

Particularly appealing are the variety of moods and styles represented, from the gentle lullabies of "Joseph, Lieber, Joseph, Mein" and "Silent Night" to the more exuberant "Here We Come Awassailing" and "Go Tell it on the Mountain." El Noi de la Mare (What Shall We Bring?), a lesser-known Catalan carol, is a delightful addition, and all songs are sung in English, increasing their appeal to children. Tastefully arranged, the musical selections are beautifully performed by soloists and instrumentalists of obvious high quality; although I did feel the spirit of simplicity in "O Holy Night" was lost in the overpowering technicality of the singers. The use of a children's choir is a fitting choice and provides the appropriate atmosphere for showing off these holiday favorites to children, yet the formality of the diction contributes to a sound that seems forced and somewhat unnatural at times.

A Classical Kids Christmas accomplishes what it set out to do: introduce kids to the wealth of holiday music beyond Rudolph in an enjoyable setting that will keep them entertained over and over again throughout the season. By the twentieth time through, however, maybe you'll be ready to switch back to the radio. Reviewed by Sara Turley, Tempe, Arizona.
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Author:Turley, Sara
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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