8 Great Christmas Recordings for 2018

By Lisa Flynn |

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Every year, the holiday season brings a new assortment of fabulous and festive Christmas albums. Host Lisa Flynn guides us through 8 of her top classical Christmas recordings for 2018.

100 Years of Nine Lessons and Carols
The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

For many music lovers, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the sound of carols from King’s College Chapel in Cambridge. Each year, millions around the world enjoy the choir’s Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. This two-part collection celebrates 100 years of the famous service with a mix of brand-new performances and historical recordings not heard since the original BBC broadcasts. 

Bach: Christmas Oratorio
Mainz Bach Orchestra and Chorus, Ralf Otto

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio was written for the Christmas season of 1734. Although it incorporates music from earlier works, it belongs firmly among his timeless large-scale compositions. For conductor Ralf Otto, flexibility, diversity and transparency of sound have always been essential to working with choirs and orchestras, based on his gift for interpreting different musical styles, from the Renaissance through today.

Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain
Apollo’s Fire

Jeannette Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire present a celebration of the American immigrant experience. From Christmas Eve in medieval Scotland to folk carols and shape-note hymns at a toe-tapping Christmas gathering in Virginia, Apollo’s Fire follows the journeys of the Irish and Scottish settlers who settled in the Appalachian Mountains and welcomed Christmas with love, singing, dancing, and prayer.

Feliz Navidad
Rolando Villazón

Through his uniquely compelling performances with leading opera houses and orchestras around the world, Rolando Villazón has firmly established himself as one of the leading tenors of our day. Villazón shows his versatility with a new album of holiday classics. Feliz Navidad features many favorites of the season, including "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Silent Night," "What Child Is This," and more.

The Mystery of Christmas
ORA Singers

The story of Christ's birth has prompted generations of composers to expressions of joy and mystical reflection. ORA's selection of carols for The Mystery of Christmas unveils a whole treasure chest of offerings, all giving voice to various elements of the Nativity story. Highlights include Morten Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium and a carol by John Rutter written specifically for ORA's director, Suzi Digby.

On This Night
Music of the Baroque

Long recognized as one of Chicago’s leading classical groups, Music of the Baroque is a modern instrument orchestra and chorus specializing in music from the 18th century and before. The ensemble’s popular holiday brass and choral concerts have been an important Chicago tradition for nearly four decades. On This Night features highlights from Music of the Baroque’s holiday concerts of 2017.

Silent Night: Early Christmas Music and Carols
Hirundo Maris

Since the founding of their ensemble Hirundo Maris in 2009, Catalan harpist and singer Arianna Savall and Norwegian tenor and violist Petter Udland Johansen have committed themselves to music from the Middle Ages to the Baroque period. For Silent Night, the musicians have chosen Christmas songs from Mediterranean and Nordic traditions, entering into the magical world of centuries-old holiday music.

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker
Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel

To tie in with Disney's new film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, for which he conducted the soundtrack (music composed by James Newton Howard), Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic perform Tchaikovsky’s full original Nutcracker ballet. This recording also celebrates Dudamel’s tenth anniversary as music director with the orchestra.