Over the past few weeks I have been busy … how about you? My days have been joyfully filled with baking, entertaining, playing holiday concerts, and listening to special music to program on Sunday Baroque for the holidays.
Many people have favorite family treats that are synonymous with the holidays; maybe you’re like me and you both serve them at your holiday parties, as well as give them to friends as gifts. Perhaps your holiday traditions include decorating your home and yard, listening to certain beloved holiday music, or watching favorite films.
Although the whole idea of traditions is to pass down important or endearing activities, items or foods — to replicate them generation after generation , it’s inevitable that traditions morph as the years go by. Our holidays have been delightfully energized and broadened by the addition to our family of a 16-year-old exchange student! We are loving the opportunity to help her enjoy some of her beloved holiday traditions while living so far from home, as well as to introduce her to our family traditions. (Let’s just say she is quite pleased by all the baked goods being produced in my kitchen!) We look forward to seeing this time of year anew, as we see it through her eyes.
How are you spending these weeks? What are some of your holiday traditions? How have you blended your traditions with other, newer traditions? What music are you listening to? What special, meaningful things do you look forward to at this time of year? Let’s start a new tradition of sharing what is most important and satisfying to each of us at holiday time.
Just before the winter holidays each year, I hand-pick some of my favorite recent recordings and compile them in a list for you to consider giving as gifts to the music lovers on your list. The Sunday Baroque Holiday Gift List has become an annual tradition stretching back many years!
I seek out a variety of recordings by world-class performers, including a few familiar baroque compositions, as well as some less well-known selections. This year’s “greatest hits” list includes cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s new recording of all six of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, as well as a snazzy recording of Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Concertos by violinist Rachel Podger with Brecon Baroque. In the fresh and new column, there is Chatham Baroque’s recording of music written in the so-called “fantastic style” by composers such as Antonio Bertali and Johann Hermann Schein, as well as Stile Antico’s gorgeous performances of sacred music by 16th century Spaniard Tomas Luis de Victoria, and Ronn McFarlane’s lilting performances of Celtic lute solos.
Each of these recordings is a gem because it combines technical virtuosity, imaginative repertory, and well-informed artistry. It is thrilling that this is Yo-Yo Ma’s third recording of Bach’s iconic cello suites, spanning more than four decades of his career. Just as Bach’s music has endured the centuries, staying relevant and becoming more revered, the cellist still has so much to say musically, too, and he says it so beautifully.
Every week through the end of the year you will hear some selections from this year’s Sunday Baroque Holiday Gift list on the Sunday Baroque broadcast. It’s a risk-free way to audition the CDs or, if you’re not planning to give them as gifts, an opportunity to kick back on the weekend and savor some excellent recent recordings. Give yourself the gift of great music, and may it enhance your enjoyment of the holiday season.
Thanks for listening!
2018 Holiday Gift List