What Ever Happened To The Classical Christmas Album?

Is it just me, or does it seem like Santa is delivering far fewer classical Christmas albums these days? Decades ago, many of the top opera divas — from Renata Tebaldi to Joan Sutherland — released Christmas records. Then there were choral conductors like Robert Shaw and prominent British choirs like the one at Westminster Abbey.

The flow hasn't stopped; it's merely slowed to a trickle. In an age when fewer classical albums are selling, and fewer artists are signed to big labels, perhaps the notion of releasing a Christmas record is more trouble than it's worth. Joseph Oerke, with Deutsche Grammophon and Decca Classics in the U.S., reminded me, though, that a few big opera stars, like Bryn Terfel, are still cutting Christmas discs. And although Christmas albums, he said, "are predominantly focused on the U.S. market with generally less traction in other countries," he assured me that we haven't seen the end of them.

Still, at a time of year when nostalgia is not only condoned but encouraged (with cookies and eggnog on the side), I find myself longing for my old classical Christmas favorites. Here are a few, thanks to the interwebs. And ... if you've run across a great classical Christmas release we missed this year, tell us all about it in the comments section.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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