Merry Christmas from Vienna

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Sony
PERFORMER: Plácido Domingo, Michael Bolton (tenor), Ying Huang (soprano); Vienna SO/Steven Mercurio
CATALOGUE NO: SK 63214

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In a year when Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’ looks set to displace ‘While Shepherds Watched’ as the world’s most popular seasonal ditty, it’s about time the record industry stood up for good old-fashioned tradition. And you can’t get more traditional than Sony’s Merry Christmas from Vienna.

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In this year’s offering, innocent melodies like ‘Silent Night’ or Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’ are subjected to the indecent assaults of a couple of souped-up synthesizers and a drum kit (trading under the name of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra) and the combined vocal resources of Plácido Domingo (in beefiest Man of La Mancha mode), Ying Huang (the porcelain-voiced Chinese-born soprano of the recent Madam Butterfly film) and Britain’s Michael Bolton, the original hoarse whisperer and a bathroom tenor with a tone so threadbare one can only imagine he begins each day brushing his vocal cords with wire wool and gargling in neat sulphuric acid.