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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Knights, The Knights Before Christmas


Those of you who are musically sensitive like I am go through the Winter Holidays with an undiminished need for stimulating musical experiences, yet of course the many Christmas carols, some better than others, are subjected to innumerable arrangements for better or ill, and then too of course our musical memories draw sometimes rich associations with particular songs and versions, not to mention the Classical staples of the season, by Handel and Bach among others.

Since I am sent various things of a seasonal sort I try and listen to them and if any stand out write something about them on my blog pages. And so today a CD someone kindly sent that strikes me as being ultra-musical and so quite welcome.

It is by a musical outfit dubbed the Knights and the album is called The Knights Before Christmas (Bright Shining Things BSTC-0159), 

In some ways the impetus for more recordings of Christmas music in your life is a means to connect present with the holiday experience while more or less reconnecting the past with the present. While the songs are often enough old and familiar, the version are new and ideally regenerating.

I cannot say that is not the case with this one, for each is freshly arranged for a chamber orchestra and at tines one or more female vocalists. The arrangements are full throated without being overly sentimental. I post it on the "Classical" blog because the orchestral approach will no doubt appeal to classicists. So Vince Guaraldi's Peanuts classic "Christmas Time is Here" sounds rejuvenated in this female vocalist and orchestral rendition, as does "Deep in Bleak Midwinter" and the Asian sounding arrangement of "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

There are a few things I do not recognize and good for that since we need something new every year we hope. If you need some names attached to this music, what about Krystie Warren, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Magos Herrera, Gaby Moreno, Wu Man and the folk trio I'm with Her? 

"Another Lonely Christmas" has a sort of Joni Mitchell flavor to it, though rather dark and filled with feelings of loss. It is good music nonetheless. 

In the end the nicely apportioned arrangements give us music with something of a new life. The version of "Christmas Time is Here" alone is worth the price of admission, for it reminds us (or me anyway) that the song can travel far from its Peanuts origin and sound great all by itself. As a whole the album stands apart from the typical as music of a special sort.

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