Volume Two of "A Mandolin Christmas" digs a bit deeper into the traditional Christmas canon. And a little farther back in time. Some of these velvety melodies are centuries old. There's a remarkable, almost mystical quality in these ancient carols: they carry the mood of Christmas, even the less widely-known ones, embedded in their very fabric somehow.
In our modern high-speed digital culture, Christmas music is maybe the only "popular music" still rooted in the Middle Ages, and also in acoustic instruments. These arrangements are at once simple and yet sophisticated. The crystalline tone of Karen's mandolin with Will's jazz-infused classical guitar serve this music so elegantly. You can almost hear the fire crackling and see the lights twinkling on the tree. There's a wealth of fantastic, more modern Christmas music as well, but no matter how progressive we are in our other musical tastes, there's still a wide appeal for these old carols. They immediately invoke all Christmases past. They remind us and inspire us of the sense of well-being from our own childhoods, and that of our children's.
This is a record that will be a lovely accompaniment to any holiday atmosphere. It has a sound that warms up a room instantly and still leaves space in the air for both lively conversation, and the serenity that comes from taking a break from the bustle of our every day lives.
Will recorded, mixed, mastered and generally magicked this recording into life. .
Will plays guitar, Karen plays mandolin: it doesn't get any more "duo" than this. Together we came up with arrangements, harmonies, design ideas and the mission of sharing the beauty of acoustic Christmas music, and the sense of well-being it inspires and reminds us of.
Extra special thanks to Patrick Fernandez and Joyce and Kent Walker
For sheet music, videos, more albums, and more information on the songs, visit:
The Songs - History and arrangement notes
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Premiered December 18, 1892
I inserted in the middle a gypsy jazz version of Auld Lang Syne in a minor key
Bigger reverb because I wanted to emulate the orchestral version
The piece was noted for its use of the celesta, in which the mandolin parts replace in this version
Wexford Carol Traditional Irish folk melody, transcribed by William Grattan Flood
Oh Shenandoah is a traditional American folk song of uncertain origin, dating to the early 19th century.
is a traditional religious Irish Christmas carol originating from County Wexford and, specifically, Enniscorthy
The Angel Gabriel is a Basque Christmas folk carol from 13th or 14th century.
Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella / Simple Gifts 3:58 French Carol 17th Century
Simple Gifts is a Shaker song written and composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett.
Carol of the Bells is a Christmas carol, by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1914
In Dulci Jubilo ("In sweet rejoicing") is a traditional Christmas carol dating from the Middle Ages.
Gesu Bambino is an Italian Christmas carol composed by Pietro Yon in 1917
Good King Wenceslas / Go Tell it on the Mountain is an African-American spiritual song, compiled by John Wesley Work, Jr., dating back to at least 1865
Watchman, Tell Us of the Night by John Bowring
Included Bach’s invention in D minor as interlude
O Holy Night is a well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chrétiens" (Midnight, Christians) written by a wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau (1808–1877)