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Confronting The Ghosts Of Classical Christmas Albums Past

By Anastasia Tsioulcas | NPR
Wednesday, November 27, 2013

With the holidays upon us, our friends at member station WQXR invited me along with Washington Post chief classical critic Anne Midgette and Sony Masterworks producer Steven Epstein, the winner of 17 Grammy Awards, to sit down with host Naomi Lewin for a Conducting Business podcast on the topic. (Never mind the fact that all four of us, to one extent or other, are celebrating Thanksgivukkah this year, with a couple of Christmases thrown in as well.)

You don't have to celebrate Christmas, though, to love some good Christmas music: Think of all those widely beloved seasonal Messiah and Nutcracker performances, the cash cows that help keep many arts organizations afloat.

On this episode of Conducting Business, we talked about how to define a great classical Christmas album (spoiler alert: it's totally subjective!), name-checked a bunch of our personal favorites — and wondered how much the current economics of the music business have affected the over-the-top productions of yesteryear.

Take a listen, and tell us what some of your own favorite holiday albums are. Do you prefer the show-stopping spectacles of full orchestra and chorus? Or do you prefer a cozy, intimate get-together?

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