New Christmas Cantata, Old Glenn Gould Make Billboard Classical Chart

Classic Arts News   New Christmas Cantata, Old Glenn Gould Make Billboard Classical Chart
Ringing in the new and the old alike, the debutants on the Billboard classical chart this week are a recent Christmas cantata and a box set of early Canadian radio recordings by the young Glenn Gould.

The Birth of Christ, which arrives at no. 18, is a musical account of the Christmas story with text drawn largely from the New Testament and music by Christian contemporary composer Andrew T. Miller. The score received its world premiere in Seattle in 2004; the present recording was made in Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral in 2006, with Protestant and Catholic choirs from the Irish capital and instrumentalists under the composer's baton. Film star Liam Neeson provides the narration.

Hitting the chart at no. 24 is "Glenn Gould: The Young Maverick." This 6-CD box set is drawn from live broadcasts Gould made for CBC Radio during the 1950s. Included is a 1954 performance of Bach's Goldberg Variations which the pianist (who was not yet 22) gave on the Canadian radio program Distinguished Artists; it predates by a year the legendary LP recording of the work he made for Columbia Records (now Sony BMG). Two of the discs in the set are devoted to Bach, with another three containing sonatas, concertos and chamber music by Beethoven; the remaining CD features works by Schoenberg, Berg and Webern.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's latest holiday recording, "Spirit of the Season," remains at no. 1 for the fourth straight week. Cecilia Bartoli's "Maria," a tribute disc to the legendary 19th-century mezzo Maria Malibran, is at no. 2, followed by crossover violinist André Rieu's "Radio City Music Hall: Live in New York," up three notches to no. 3. The new release by Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops of selections from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, which arrived on the chart last week at no. 11, has leapt up to no. 4. Climbing three notches to no. 5 is "Duets," by soprano Anna Netrebko and tenor Rolando Villazón, while pianist Simone Dinnerstein's recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations has slipped from third to sixth place.

Returning to the classical chart at no. 22 is Bruckner's Symphony No. 7, performed by the Chicago Symphony under conductor Bernard Haitink. The disc is the orchestra's second release on its new in-house record label, CSO Resound.

Billboard's classical crossover chart has a bit of news this week. Josh Groban's "Noel," which has held the top spot on that chart for seven weeks now, has become the top-selling recording in the U.S. The disc hit no. 1 on the Billboard 200, which covers all genres of music, following the singer's appearance on Oprah last week.

Among the next ten releases on the crossover chart after "Noel" are five titles by Andrea Bocelli, two by the quasi-operatic boy band Il Divo, a second disc by Groban (the long-running "Awake"), the debut CD by British tenor/reality TV show winner Paul Potts, and "Wolfgang's Big Night Out" by rock guitarist Brian Setzer and his orchestra. The male-voice choir Chanticleer's new holiday release, "Let It Snow," is at no. 12. Slipping back onto the crossover chart at no. 25 is the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet's "LAGQ: Brazil."

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