A Winter's Solstice IV
Carol Of The Bells
Dona Nobis Pacem
Just Before Dawn
We Three Kings
Angels We Have Heard On High
Sheep May Safely Graze
The Rain From The Four Seasons
Asleep The Snow Came Flying
Dawn Atkinson, Phil Aaberg, Michael Manring, Barbara Higbie, Paul McCandless, Turtle Island String Quartet (Anger, Balakrishnan, Summer, Seidenberg), Liz Story, Andy Narell
"Windham Hill Artists"
Darol Anger & Mike Marshall
Modern Mandolin Quartet
Alex de Grassi
Schönherz & Scott
Turtle Island String Quartet
Album produced by
Tracks produced by the respective recording artists, exceptions & additionals noted below when applicable
A Winter's Solstice IV (BMG 01934 11134)
The fourth holiday-themed album from the Windham Hill label, and the first cataloged by BMG, which at this point owned 50% of the label and shared executive duties with the co-founder (and still equity holder) Anne Robinson. This album again features completely original tracks recorded specifically for the album. Dawn Atkinson again has creative control for the record, with additional production from Howard Johnston, Steven Miller, and Phil Aaberg.
I rank A Winter's Solstice IV my favorite album of the collection. Every track is memorable, original, and the artists craft (in particular) their original compositions with such creative artistry it's a shame that these tracks haven't been accepted by the mainstream as Holiday Classics. Favorites include Paul McCandless's Winter Bourne (a unique and fun arrangement of the Spanish Carol Fum, Fum, Fum) and Tim Story's Asleep the Snow Came Flying.
(...among every other track. Other favorites include Billy Child's Christmas Hymn, Alex de Grassi's Trumpet Tune, Will Ackerman's greatest Winter Solstice contribution Just Before Dawn (with penny whistle performance by Mícheál Ó Domhnaill) and Schönherz & Scott's Three Candles).
Three tracks are featured below for Winter's IV. The first is the brilliantly arranged 18th Century "Trumpet Tune" by Alex de Grassi. The "Trumpet Tune" is the Trumpet Voluntary originally composed by Jeremiah Clarke for his piece The Prince of Denmark's March. For the longest time (and even in 1993, when this album was recorded), it was incorrectly credited to Henry Purcell. Regardless, de Grassi's interpretation is one of the very best. Don't let the stereotypical Masterpiece Theatre theme song fool you, here! This is some burnin' finger style guitar.
Also featured is Story's original "Asleep The Snow Came Flying," the closing track from this classic album. One of the most carefully layered acoustic/electronic pieces of music ever written, with the most beautiful capstone to an album. Martha Reikow's cello performance is particularly breathtaking.
Lastly, Will Ackerman's Just Before Dawn. If a piece of music can evoke a feeling of comfort and warmth by the fireside, while a brisk wind bellows in the early morning dark, this is it.
This album comes highly recommended.