Non syrupy Christmas music, instrumental
December 4, 2010 10:09 AM   Subscribe

[Christmas music filter, instrumental] I'm in search of non-schmaltzy, non overwrought instrumental Christmas music.

The minister of our small church has asked MrR and I to put together a before&after service CD, with instrumental Christmas music, heavy on hymns and carols. (there is no church musician available at those times.) Despite my extensive collection of Christmas music, I find myself somewhat lacking in instrumental Christmas music that's not Canadian/Philadelphia Brass or Mannheim Steamroller or MusicaAntiqua. Jethro Tull and Trans-Siberian Orchestra are a little too energetic for this use. I refuse to use 101 Strings or syrupy-schmaltzy stuff, although I'm open to suggestions for good orchestra or chamber orchestra. She doesn't want wind symphony pieces (so Reed's Russian Christmas Music or Anderson's Christmas Festival are right out). She wants it for tomorrow's service (and for the rest of Advent), so I don't really have time to go trawling through the hundreds of results I get on Amazon or eMusic to find more music. We have access to the hymnal accompaniment CDs, but they're not exactly inspired music, if you know what I mean....
posted by jlkr to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: YoYo Ma's Songs of Joy and Peace.
posted by kch at 10:16 AM on December 4, 2010

Charlie Brown Christmas. Added bonus = nostalgia.
posted by chicago2penn at 10:59 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Trombone Shorty & Others - O, Holy Night

from an episode of Studio 60 after the storm-- makes me tear up when I listen.
posted by elleyebeebeewhy at 11:07 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

How about organ music? I can't vouch for this cd, but the pedigree looks good. Available on iTunes.

Christmas with the Pops, from the Cincinnati Pops and Erich Kunzel.

By the Fireside, from the Turtle Island String Quartet. (Might be a little harder to get immediately, unfortunately.)
posted by Madamina at 11:09 AM on December 4, 2010

A friend of mine used to have an all-instrumental reggae xmas album which we listened to endlessly during the holidays - it was awesome and happy and still pretty chill. But, um. Upon further reflection it is maybe not very churchy.
posted by elizardbits at 11:27 AM on December 4, 2010

Does it need to be recognizable Christmas music? If not, you have considerably more options, like Corelli's Christmas concerto grosso or things of that nature. Really, anything predating about 1750 is unlikely to be the least bit cheesy, but also might not seem like Christmas music to people.

(Also, if choral music is allowed, I can make lots more suggestions.)
posted by andrewpendleton at 11:37 AM on December 4, 2010

Best answer: Some of my favorites that are low key instrumentals:

Jim Bajor Christmas Memories

Wind Machine Portraits of Christmas

Rejoice! - A String Quartet Christmas (there are 3 volumes, I have #1)
posted by cecic at 12:00 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

John Fahey
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:59 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: kch *facepalm* re YoYo Ma. I even have that album, but it wasn't categorized as holiday.

andrewpendleton yes, it really should be recognisably Christmas, preferably *not* secular. It's for church, after all. She specifically requested instrumental, and that's what I don't have lots of. Vocal, I've got covered.

cecic The String Quartet Christmas is pretty much exactly what I was looking for. As a bonus, the Amazon page led me to some other chamber group Christmas albums.

That's this weekend sorted, but I'll take more suggestions.
posted by jlkr at 6:04 PM on December 4, 2010

Best answer: Windham Hill's two-volume 'The Carols of Christmas' would be right up your alley, I'd think. These are for the most part fairly straightforward, non-bombastic or saccharine renditions - piano, guitar, Windham Hill-type instrumentations. I always look forward to the holiday season so I can play them without feeling like a dork.

Amazon has some used ones for really really cheap right now.
posted by DandyRandy at 9:35 AM on December 6, 2010

Liz Story: The Gift. Simple, poignant piano interpretations of well-known and traditional carols and hymns.
posted by bricoleur at 6:18 PM on December 6, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks DandyRandy -- that's another good one. As a bonus, I found a carol that I'd really liked when I heard it at a Christmas party but could never find again!
posted by jlkr at 4:20 PM on December 7, 2010

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