A Song for Christmas

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Mantovani made his first Christmas single (White Christmas with Adeste Fideles for the B side) for Decca in October, 1952. A year later he recorded a further twelve numbers for An Album of Christmas Music and it became a major seller in the 1950s. With the advent of stereo, in 1958, all fourteen numbers were re-recorded and the album (here heard as CD 1) became a million seller. It was followed in 1963 with a second Christmas album, entitled A Song for Christmas from which this set takes it name.

A Song for Christmas features the Mike Sammes Chorus & Singers who often joined the Italian born maestro’s musicians. They can be heard on seven of the twelve numbers on the record. A frequent arranger of much of the music Mantovani recorded was Cecil Milner, one of the maestro’s select team of arrangers.

Among the familiar carols on the album are some unfamiliar items like Mantovani’s self-penned Christmas Bells which conjures up the happy atmosphere surrounding Jesus Christ’s birthday celebrations. Paul Lambrecht’s Midnight Waltz and the now-forgotten traditional tune Nazareth are equally unfamiliar while Milner’s arrangement of ‘O Thou that tellest Good Tidings to Zion’ (from Handel’s Messiah) is entirely free of Mantovani’s signature cascading strings.