Maybe I get kind of fanatical about Christmas music. I'll admit it. Growing up, our rule was that Christmas music could be played from after Thanksgiving dinner until the end of Christmas Day. Such a short window makes Christmas music extra special. Nowadays I impose this rule with gusto, listening almost exclusively to Christmas music all month long until other family members start making remarks. My favorites change with the years--here are some I'm enjoying now!
Corelli's Christmas concerto. It's only about 15 minutes long and instrumental, but sounds totally like Christmas to me. Just look for Corelli's Concerto Grosso in G minor Op. 6/8 on your average baroque mixtape.
Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols. I like the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers version found on their Angels on High CD. The rest of the CD is great too.
A Charlie Brown Christmas, Vince Guaraldi Trio. What a classic. This year I also bought the piano music to learn.
Klingende Weihnacht. My father spent time in Germany in the 60s and I think this record came out of that experience. It has been part of my Christmases as long as I can remember, and the sound of the little German children singing ROCKS my every December.
Noels Celtiques: Celtic Christmas Music from Brittany, Ensemble Choral du Bout du Monde. This album is so beautiful it sometimes makes me cry. The northern tippy-top part of France has Scottish connections, and they can be heard in these transfiguring songs that sometimes include bagpipes.
Christmas with the Rat Pack. Frank, Dean-o and Sammy take turns belting 'em out on this swinging collection.
Verve Presents: The Very Best of Christmas Jazz. John Coltrane Quartet, Bill Evans, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Horn, Dinah Washington... in a word: awesomesauce. Jimmy Smith's drawbar organ version of "Jingle Bells" is a total treat.
Christmas Album, Nat "King" Cole. This guy's voice is like buttah. A perennial favorite.
A Very Siúcra Christmas. This is a recent find at a used CD store, apparently from around 2002. A folky-Celtic trio, Siúcra is quickly growing on us as a new Christmas staple. There are some new Christmas songs I've never heard before, like the "Cherry Tree Carol" that makes new sense of the miracle plays I had to read in college. (Why DID the baby have cherries in his hand at the end of the play? This song answers the question.) The talented lead singer Beth Leachman got an adorable Vows wedding writeup in the NYT in 2009: click here to read.
Baroque Christmas Music. I found this at the library. The name about says it all. My cup of tea.
The Little Drummer Boy, by the Harry Simeone Chorale. Let me just say that "The Little Drummer Boy" is the most hideous Christmas song ever, in my opinion. However this gospel-like album of medleys (that sounds terrible, but it's good!) gets really rollicking in places!
Tell me what Christmas music you like! You don't even have to be Christian to have a favorite song or two. Heck, I'm some sort of witchy pagan sun-worshiper myself.