Main: John Whiting’s Christmas Collection

Includ­ed in our Main Stream pro­gramme of British Clas­si­cal and sea­son­al music, today at 11am and 7pm Pacif­ic Time we’ll be pre­sent­ing a very spe­cial treat: a mar­vel­lous com­pi­la­tion of Christ­mas music, main­ly in a clas­si­cal and Ear­ly Music vein, orig­i­nal­ly com­piled by John Whit­ing when he was a staff mem­ber of the famous KPFA radio sta­tion in Berke­ley in the 1960s. Many thanks to John for mak­ing these record­ings avail­able to us today.

He writes,

When I joined the staff of the UC Berke­ley Music Library in 1958, I was asked to put togeth­er a selec­tion of appro­pri­ate music for the Uni­ver­si­ty Library’s Christ­mas par­ty. For a cou­ple of delight­ful weeks I spent my spare time going through var­i­ous record col­lec­tions, includ­ing my own, and mak­ing a selec­tion of Christ­mas music, ancient and mod­ern, that avoid­ed the usu­al war-hors­es. (Bing Crosby’s lugubri­ous ren­di­tion of Silent Night was con­spic­u­ous by its absence.) The tapes were played every sub­se­quent Christ­mas.

Four years lat­er at KPFA I put them up as mis­cel­lany to fill the odd gaps in the broad­cast sched­ule dur­ing the Christ­mas sea­son. In 1966 I brought the mas­ters with me to Lon­don, where, as sound tech­nol­o­gy evolved, I trans­ferred them suc­ces­sive­ly to com­pact cas­sette, then to mini­disk, then to CD and ulti­mate­ly into mp3…”

John Whiting’s com­pi­la­tion lasts for about two hours and will be broad­cast at 11am and 7pm Pacif­ic (7pm and 3am GMT). Need­less to say, these pieces are derived from vinyl (and have come through sev­er­al copies and tech­nolo­gies to reach us today): this may some­times be notice­able. John’s pro­gramme notes list some of the pieces includ­ed in the pro­gramme:

  • Corel­li, Christ­mas Con­cer­to – First of sev­er­al record­ings by I Musi­ci
  • A Medi­ae­val Christ­mas – New York Pro Musi­ca, con­duct­ed by Noah Green­berg.
  • Tra­di­tion­al French Car­ols – Choral/instrumental arrange­ments from an LP that a friend had brought back from France.
  • Ben­jamin Brit­ten, Cer­e­mo­ny of Car­ols – Con­duct­ed by the com­pos­er. (The pro­noun­ci­a­tion and into­na­tion of the Dan­ish boys choir leaves some­thing to be desired.)
  • Tra­di­tion­al Ear­ly Eng­lish Car­ols – Per­formed by Alfred Deller and the Deller Con­sort.
  • Hans Leo Has­sler, Motets – Deutsche Gram­mophon Archiv.
  • Hec­tor Berlioz, L’Enfance du Christ – Boston Sym­pho­ny, con­duct­ed by Charles Munch.
  • J. S. Bach, Christ­mas Ora­to­rio, Open­ing Cho­rus & Sin­fo­nia – Deutsche Gram­mophon Archiv ARC3079. This was one  of the great Ger­man con­duc­tor Fritz Lehmann’s last record­ings before his death in 1955; Gun­ther Arndt con­duct­ed the last two of the six can­tatas in 1956. I still have the orig­i­nal LPs.
  • Music of Medieval Court and Coun­try­side – Rus­sell Ober­lin, New York Pro Musi­ca con­duct­ed by Noah Green­berg. Half a cen­tu­ry ago the fans of Rus­sell Ober­lin and Alfred Deller were as pas­sion­ate in their diver­gence as the fol­low­ers of Stravin­sky and Schoen­berg. We in the Ober­lin camp prized his instru­men­tal puri­ty and aus­ter­i­ty and his extend­ed range, total­ly free of falset­to; today I metaphor­i­cal­ly embrace them both.

    Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin. If you are in the Unit­ed States or Cana­da, please click here to launch the Stream Licens­ing play­er. To lis­ten from out­side North Amer­i­ca, click here to start your play­er .

    This pro­gramme is also avail­able in enhanced-qual­i­ty AAC. Tune in here: 

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