After so far ripping a number of budget Christmas classics--finally, a non-cheap release for the season, and pretty obviously a Radio City Music Hall giveaway. Either that, or an issue only sold on site. (Hm--the notes call this a preview.) Anyway, I thought I'd start with this classy release. And you know you've always wanted a track featuring the rhythms of the Rockettes, and now you've got one--I refer to Side 2, track 4 (Jingle Bells).
The listings are murder on this one, so I think I'll forgo naming the artists--I'll just stick to the titles. (The mp3 ID thingies have all the details.) Things start out with a medley called The Nativity, and so we know we're hearing from an era that was less uptight about holiday/religion separation. Superb musicianship throughout, of course--as we'd expect. You just know that everything's going to be top-flight in that regard, and it is.
Have fun reading the lengthy notes--something I didn't do, since they're all mostly hype--and enjoy the cool pictures. Again, this rip is coming on the heels (no Rockettes pun intended) of four cheapie rips (to be featured soon), so the contrast is kind of surreal. And, speaking of the notes, The Happy Wanderer 1) is not a folk song, old world or otherwise, and 2) is not, to my knowledge, called He Is the Happy Wanderer, and 3) I forgot what else I was going to say. So, Wikipedia says the text is from (looks like) the 19th century, while the tune was composed following WWII, and all I know is that I got really tired of it as a kid, and that would be either because it was played too often on TV or (more likely) because I had a grade school teacher who insisted on playing it on the school phonograph. No, wait--now I remember. It was in high school, in German class. We probably sang along in German. But the melody gets old pretty fast with repetition, imo--unlike, say, Jingle Bells. And when did Happy Wanderer become a Christmas number? I mean, even if the Radio City Music Hall elects to characterize Santa Claus as a wanderer (not quite the right word), isn't it kind of a stretch? Besides, Santa knows where every chimney in the world is located--he doesn't need to wander. ("Hey, why's that sleigh and eight reindeer going in circles?" "Oh, Santa's wandering. He might need a few extra nights this year.")
This is a Christmas show "for the whole family," and isn't it funny how it's always "the whole family," and not, say, 9/12ths of the family? Or half of the family? "Great music for 1/3 of the family!" That's a plug we're never going to hear.
Organist Richard Leiber makes an appearance, predictably, and music director Paul Lavalle does the conducting throughout. The coolest credit is the LP's producer: one Neely Plumb, one-time fake-hits orchestra leader on the budget labels Music Masters and Ace-Hi. He came a long way in the biz. Rockettes director is Emilia Sherman.
To the music hall:
DOWNLOAD: Merry Christmas America From the Radio City Music Hall (1972)
"The Nativity" Medley
Nutcracker Suite (Excerpts)
Medley: Oh Little Town of Bethlehem/Deck the Halls/It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Nutcracker Suite (Excerpt) Waltz of the Flowers
He Is a Happy Wander (Sigismund-Möller)
Medley: Good King Wenceslas/O Christmas Tree--Richard Leibert, Organ
Carol of the Bells
Ave Maria (Schubert)--Solo: Sandra Darling
Jingle Bells (Rhythms of the Rockettes)
Medley: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, etc.
Merry Christmas America From the Radio City Music Hall--The Music Hall Symphony Orchestra and Chorus--Paul Lavalle, Conductor (Continental CR-1009; 1972)