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Christmas Festival

A review from Ken Harris' book "Renata Tebaldi - An Authorized Biography"

In line with the fad of popular operatic artists issuing discs of Christmas carols and associated music, Tebaldi's London-Decca disc was released in time for Christmas 1971, although it was recorded a couple of years earlier. The album features Christmas carols popular in Europe and in the United States, including "Silent Night", "O Holy Night", and "What Child Is This?", each of which is sung in English ("Silent Night" is also sung in French and German). Among the Italian language selections are Schubert's "Mille cherubini in coro" and "Tu scendi della stella", while the Bach-Gounod "Ave Maria" and Brahms' Lullaby, sung in somewhat tentative German, are also present. The disc begins and ends, strangely, with the same "take" of "Adeste Fidelis". Anton Guadagno conducts the New Philharmonia Orchestra and the Ambrosian Singers provide intermittent choral support. The orchestrations are soupy and Guadagno's tempi are pleasantly sentimental. Tebaldi is in delightful voice in such numbers as "O Holy Night" and the Brahms' Lullaby. The latter, however, with its "Muzak" orchestration, sounds synthetic, despite the warmth of Tebaldi's singing. The Italian carols are charming, and "O Holy Night" is really quite impressive. The polyglot "Silent Night" is also treasurable, while "Adeste Fidelis" is slightly overwhelmed by Tebaldi's voice at full power. In all, this is hardly Tebaldi's most memorable set, but it is appealing all the same.


Renata Tebaldi, soprano

New Philharmonia Orchestra
Ambrosian Singers
Anton Guadagno

Schubert, Gounod, Brahms, Adam, Gruber, Franck

Decca 455 214-2


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