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Title: Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
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BrianBrian
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(Date Posted:09/27/2011 17:08)

Andre Kostelanetz's "Wonderland of Christmas" is being released by ArkivMusic as part of their ArkivCD program on 10/25/2011.  Details can be found here:

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=642923

This is not a traditional CD release of the album.  For those unfamiliar with ArkivMusic and their ArkivCDs, here is a brief description of the program from their website:

"An ArkivCD is a reissue of an out-of-print or otherwise generally unavailable recording. It is produced by ArkivMusic and fully authorized by the original record label. The music on the disc is exactly the same as the original. The cover art, spine, and back cover are faithfully reproduced though slightly modified.

ArkivCDs are produced within 24 hours after an order is placed on ArkivMusic using our production-on-demand system. ArkivCDs are made from high-quality CD-R media that will play in most modern CD players."

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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:09/27/2011 20:18)


Brian,

I have talked about ArkivMusic on the board in the past and the bottom line is that these are CD-Rs they are selling.

Good, bad or indifferent.

They are also selling CD-Rs of other classic Christmas albums; most notably, ones by the Robert Shaw Chorale and the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra.


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RichD
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:09/28/2011 05:19)

What's the audio quality of these CD's? Are they needle drops - taken from a tape source? 
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:09/28/2011 16:24)


Rich,

They are high-quality CD-Rs that have been licensed by the record companies. Most folks seem to be satisfied with their product.


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CluelessInSeattle
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:09/28/2011 21:57)

I just ordered it without even hearing a sample of any of the tracks.

I hope I like it!
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Strider77
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:09/28/2011 22:20)

I've purchased three Christmas CDs from ArkivMusic and none of them are needle drops.  The quality on all three have been very good.  In the case of Andre Kostelanetz's Wonderland of Christmas, your other choices are LP or reel to reel tape (I'm not sure about cassette.)  I've already ordered the CD and did so without hesitation.  For $16.98 (includes shipping) there is no other option for CD unless you make one yourself.

These guys are not like Hallmark (not the greeting card company) who sell nasty transfers of great Christmas music in mp3 format on Amazon and iTunes.  Neither are their releases (based on my experience) spectacular transfers remastered to the highest quality standards possible.  Don't expect the sound quality of a Collectors' Choice Christmas Carols by Mantovani.  ArkivMusic does produce solid transfers, packaged professionally, and they use the original album art when applicable.  I have certainly heard worse sound quality on standard issue CDs.

Just so you know . . . I did find fault with their Henry Mancini Greatest Christmas Songs release as one of the 15 songs had a brief skip in it.  I wrote them back and they sent me a new CD free of charge and without making me send the old one back.  Unfortunately the new CD had the same problem, so I assumed the problem was not in the CD but in the file that they used to master the CD with.  Their customer service was polite and responsive to my complaint.

I am not a huge fan of CD-Rs, but if the alternative is nothing (in the way of a CD release,) then ArkivMusic is not a bad way to go.  It does amaze me that no one else has released this album before.  It is spectacular.  Thanks to Brian for bringing it to my attention.

-=Perry
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:09/29/2011 01:44)


Yes, I agree; if you have no other alternative, then an ArkivMusic CD-R is definitely the way to go.

Fortunately, for me, years ago I had all of my Top Play LPs that were never issued on CD professionally remastered and burned onto CD-R. I also had the LP jacket artwork (front and back) professionally made for the CD jewel cases as well. So luckily, I don't need to rely on ArkivMusic.


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BrianBrian
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:09/30/2011 19:04)

Just to further assuage any concerns that this would be a needle-drop release, here is an email from ArkivMusic regarding the source material for this ArkivCD:

"
We are working directly with Sony for Wonderland Of Christmas / Andre Kostelanetz (Label: Sony, Catalog #: 96970).  An ArkivCD is a licensed reissue of an out-of-print or otherwise generally unavailable recording.  It's produced by ArkivMusic and fully authorized by the original record label from a master directly from the label.  We do not have the ability to create copies from either vinyl or analog tapes."
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CluelessInSeattle
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:10/29/2011 09:43)


I received Kostelanetz'  "Wonderland of Christmas" in the mail yesterday.

As I was opening the package I could hear and feel the something rattling around inside.  When I opened the CD case, a shower of tiny jewel like fragments of clear plastic spilled out.  (Now I know why they call them "jewel cases, eh?")

Turns out that all but two of the tiny plastic "fingers" that should hold the CD firmly in place had been broken off. 

I suppose I should play the CD to make sure it wasn't damaged by scraping around in transit with all those sharp bits of polystyrene (or whatever they make those so-called "jewel cases" out of these days), but I'm now in High Halloween mode, and don't want to break the spooky mood by playing Christmas music just yet.

I guess I'll ask ArkivMusic to mail me a new case.  Come to think of it, I had to order a replacement case the last time I ordered from ArkivMusic because of the the same problem.  I wonder how the breakage happens.  The CD was shipped in a heavy cardboard mailer.   It must've sustained quite a severe blow to have broken off nearly all those little holder tabs in the case, wouldn't you say?

Sunday, October 30, 11:50 AM PST
 
I gave in to temptation and gave the Kostelanetz CD a listen this morning, and what a delight it turned out to be!  I'm so glad I bought it.  The very first notes of the first track caused me to break out in a big grin and I kept smiling the whole way through (except for that "Christmas Chopsticks" number.  What was that all about?).  Anyway, this  one is definitely a keeper and will get lots of play this Christmas season (though I'll probably burn a back-up copy minus the "Christmas Chopsticks" track and just play the back-up disc).




(Message edited by CluelessInSeattle On 10/30/2011 12:55)
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SinterKlaus
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/01/2011 12:22)

Got my Arkiv copy of this the other day - and I'm quite pleased.  Never heard it before - it's a great album with a lot of stereo separation, a lot of variety in the arrangments and a few surprises. 

Tom
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/01/2011 17:58)


Will:

I just noticed the 10/30 edit to your 10/29 post. Please be aware that consecutive posts are perfectly fine; its same-day double posting that is not allowed (Click here).

Regarding Andre Kostelanetz, it was
his version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" from the Wonderland of Christmas LP that was used as the musical backdrop every year at the finale of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade when good old Santa made his way into Herald Square to officially usher in the Christmas season. Sadly, however, this custom has been terminated, which is a shame because it was traditional for so many years.

Oh well, it's just another one of the many great Christmas traditions that has now gone to pot.

 


Tom:

Yes, this Andre Kostelanetz LP is indeed one of the great ones. It comes in at #15 in my Top 300 (Click here).


 

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anthonyv
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/02/2011 15:13)

Chip, I think it was part of a medley but I remember they also played that very distinct version of HAVE YOURSELF A  MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS from that great WONDERLAND OF CHRISTMAS album before the TV broadcast ended.  

Speaking of the Macy's parade,  the famed parade actually originated here in our beloved state of NJ thanks to Bamberger's department store (which became a Macy's owned store) in Newark in the 1920s! 

But like you I also think that, like most things worth remembering about our opwn Christmas past, that Kostelanetz music really did feel like it cut the ribbon on the official holiday season every year! I used to wait for those final few minutes just to see the arrival of Santa and hear that familiar music which always meant that Christmas time was finally here.

ClulessinSeattle: You can get those jewel cases in most dollar stores these days. Since tho cases are easily broken its a smart idea to keep a supply of them since they're so inexpensive.



(Message edited by anthonyv On 11/02/2011 18:45)
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/02/2011 20:30)


That's absolutely correct Anthony; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is the second song of a 2-song medley that immediately follows Santa Claus is Coming to Town. For anyone not familiar with this classic medley, I posted it below. Enjoy!

 


 

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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/02/2011 21:52)

Wow...Other than hearing it played at the end of the parade, I haven't really listened to that classic medley since the early 1980s. Still sounds great. Thanks Chip!
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Strider77
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/10/2011 23:10)

Will,

Sorry Buddy, but I have to disagree on Christmas Chopsticks.  This is one of those songs that I stumbled across over the last couple of years.  I absolutely love the song.  I first heard it by the Mike Sammes Singers and fell in love with it on the first hearing.

Then (as my Christmas music collection started to grow) I found versions by The Voices of Walter Schumann, Bobby Vinton, Big Tiny Little (a ragtime piano variation called Santa's Chopsticks,) Guy Lombardo and Mr. Kostelanetz on Wonderland of Christmas.  I think that the Kostelanetz version is fantastic.

I cannot find much on the origin of the song, but all of the versions that I have listed come from the mid '50s to the early '60s.  Apparently it was a popular little tune at one time.  If I were you, I would listen to the Walter Schumann version before I chucked it from my playlist for the holidays.  If you still don't like after hearing that version, then by all means, get rid of it from your backup copy.

After all, there is no accounting for some folks' taste in music.  [I'm speaking of yours, not mine.] 

. . . Just joking, Will!

-=Perry
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CluelessInSeattle
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/11/2011 16:19)

Hi Perry!

I agree that if I listen to the Kostelanetz album a few times I may come to associate "Christmas Chopsticks" with Christmas.

I had a similar experience with the Melachrino album "Christmas Joy" that I bought back in the early sixties.  It had a couple of songs on it that I had never heard of before:  "Fairy on the Christmas Tree" and "Christmas Alphabet."  The first few time I listened to the album I wondered "What is the deal with these two oddball songs?"

But after decades of listening to that album each Christmas season, I've come to associate those songs with Christmas, and they are now woven into my Christmas memories.  Maybe the same thing will happen with "Christmas Chopsticks."  (But I have to confess that I just gave it another listen after reading your message and my reaction is still:  "How annoying!"  ;o) 

I want to ask you, however, what exactly is the Christmas connection with "Christmas Chopsticks"?  I mean, other than putting the word "Christmas" in front of the the name of that old two-finger children's piano game, why would anyone play "Chopsticks" at Christmas time anyway?
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/11/2011 17:20)

Perry:

The song Christmas Chopsticks was written and published by Fred Heider in 1951. It is basically a combination of two songs: Chopsticks and 'Twas The Night Before Christmas. By the way, the song was also recorded by Polka King, Frankie Yankovic.

Will:

There is nothing complicated behind the meaning of the song; it was just a creative and alternative way to set the lyrics to 'Twas The Night Before Christmas to music. It's only because you are not familiar with the song that you are not particularly partial to it. Given the age that you are, I am very surprised that you have never heard it before because it was quite popular in the 1950s and 60s. Posted below is the cover for the original 1951 sheet music and also a YouTube posting of Bobby Vinton's 1964 version so you can hear a fine vocal performance of the song.


 


 


 

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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/11/2011 17:37)

Will,

Though this isn't a usually classified as a Christmas song, it is related to this topic, being the lyrics to it were set to a more familiar tune.  One church I went to was trying to teach the Children the words to "Amazing Grace" and they had a hard time remembering them, but they were old enough to see "Gilligans Island" in syndication and we taught them "Amazing Grace" buy using the tune to "Gilligans Island" and it helped them to remember the words and then later we were able to get them to sing it to the correct tune.

There are certain tunes that you hear when you are a child and you can't get them out of your head, so by replacing the words to the song you want them to learn but to the tune of a song they already know, they are more apt to learn them much easier.
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CluelessInSeattle
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/11/2011 21:51)

OK,  now I get it!

Thanks, Chip, for that link to the Bobby Vinton rendition.

I have to confess that I can't recall ever having heard that pairing of "Chopsticks" with snippets of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."

I do remember as a kid seeing on TV Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians doing a choral version of the Clement Moore Poem, which in those days I think we called "A Visit From St. Nicholas."  But, as I recall, they didn't do it to the tune of "Chopsticks."  At one time we even had a 78 RPM recording of it (but I think the recording was by a different choir).  I can still hear it playing in my head, and it doesn't sound at all like "Chopsticks"

I've been a big fan of Christmas music ever since we got our first record player for Christmas around 1950 along with a set of 45 RPM EPs of Bing Crosby's Christmas album.  I've been collecting Christmas music ever since (Still have the Bing Crosby EPs).   So I'm as surprised as you are that I managed to go all these years without having heard that song. 

But maybe it's just my failing memory.  It's not uncommon these days for me to borrow a DVD of a movie from the library and watch nearly the whole movie before it dawns on me that I'd borrowed that very same movie some months before and had already watched it.  That just happened to me last week.  The upside of losing my memory is that I can have the experience of seeing the same movie for the first time over and over and over again.  ;o)

Another possibility is that the "Christmas Chopsticks" song's popularity might have been regional, an east coast, west coast thing?  Do we have any west coasters, or even northwesterners on the board who recall Christmas Chopsticks being played on the radio out in these parts?

Anyway, now that I know the song's connection to Christmas, maybe It'll become a new addition to my holiday music tradition.  I'll give it another listen before I hit the hay tonight and see if having heard the lyrics will make it seem more "Christmassy" for me.


(Message edited by CluelessInSeattle On 11/11/2011 21:52)
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/12/2011 00:00)

No Will; Christmas Chopsticks was not just a regional hit and the many artists who recorded it were not just regional artists. Of the many LPs that the song was released on, some were recorded in New York and some in Hollywood. So this wasn't a regional thing by any means whatsoever.

As for Fred Waring, he didn't just do a choral version of the 'Twas The Night Before Christmas -- he did the most classic and legendary choral version of all-time. And Mr. Waring's version of the song, like most versions, was set to the original standard music, not the 'Chopsticks' music. Posted below is a picture of the original LP with its famous album jacket cover artwork by the great American artist, Norman Rockwell. This is the Christmas album cover that I consider to be the greatest of all-time bar none.

You apparently haven't browsed around my message board very much:


My Fred Waring and The Pennsylvanians thread where I posted 'Twas The Night Before Christmas; Click Here.

My Fred Waring In The Spotlight thread where I posted Jingle Bells and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer; Click Here.

My thread with my Top Play of the 300 greatest Christmas Albums of All-time; Click Here (see albums #5 & #6).


 



 



(Message edited by Christmas Music Guru On 11/12/2011 00:15)
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Strider77
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/13/2011 01:51)

Chip,

Thanks so much for the background on the song.  I couldn't find much of anything on its origins.  You never cease to amaze me with your depth of knowledge about such things.  I'll have to try and track down Frankie Yankovic's version and give that one a spin as well.

You just have to love that Waring cover art!

-=Perry
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/13/2011 03:33)


My pleasure, Perry.


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portroad
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/15/2011 18:43)

We received our copy of Wonderland Of Christmas today (from Amazon) and took it for a quick spin. Our favorite off of it? Hands down, Sleigh Ride, but that could change as we listen to it more closely and more often.

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CluelessInSeattle
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/16/2011 12:16)

I'm with you on that one, Jeff!

When I played my new CD for the first time and those old familiar notes of "Sleigh Ride" came on, I thought, "Oh no!  Not yet another stale, same-as-all-the-others, rote rendition of "Sleigh Ride"! 

Now, don't get me wrong.  I love LeRoy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride."  My high school orchestra used to play a rousing rendition of it at the Christmas concert each year.  And I play it on my stereo every year to this day.  But, I mean, really, just how many recordings of "Sleigh Ride" does a guy need?

And then, just ten seconds into the track, you could have knocked me over with a spring of mistletoe, when that ocarina (or "sweet potato" as we out here in the sticks used to call them) came tootling in with the melody.  What a sprightly, whimsical take on that old veteran warhorse of a tune!  It was like hearing it anew for the first time!

Thanks for posting a well deserved shout-out for that track.

I think I'll just go and play it right now  ;o)


(Message edited by CluelessInSeattle On 11/16/2011 12:38)
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portroad
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/17/2011 18:26)

Agreed, Will. The album is heavy on the medleys as you know, but we think "Sleigh Ride" would still be our top pick after we've now listened to it quite a bit.
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anthonyv
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/17/2011 22:05)

This one was and is still one of my favorites!

One reason I always liked this Christmas album was because it featured a unique program of holiday material that was unlike the usual album offerings from that time.  I recall buying it at Woolworth's in the 1970s simply because I liked the cover, only to be surprised that it t was the same music I heard year after year at the end of the Macy's parade!

It's true that the classic Kostelanetz "medley's" were a little out of the ordinary for that era (I recall Ray Conniff also featured a few medley's on one of his early holiday albums from around the same time) but after a few plays the music became so musically infectious that it was hard to get them out of your head! I haven't listened to the entire album in a long, long time (about 30 years) but I played it tonight... I'm really not surprised that after almost half a century this album not only holds up rather nicely but the songs are still as memorable as always. 



(Message edited by anthonyv On 11/17/2011 22:07)
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Motown Mike
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RE:Kostelanetz 'Wonderland of Christmas' ArkivMusic Reissue
(Date Posted:11/25/2011 06:39)

I'm thinking of writing the ArkivMusic people a nice letter and ask if they'd consider doing one of these CD-R reissues for Ormandy's A Christmas Festival album.

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