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December 24, 2010

To wish my blog friends a Happy Christmas, my new favorite carol

Thanks to Bryn Terfel's wonderful Christmas album this year, I discovered a carol that had eluded me, lo, these many years -- "Still, Still, Still." To me, it's nearly as perfect as "Silent Night" in unaffected beauty of words and melody. Turns out both of these lullaby carols are Austrian. Not sure if that means anything, but I figured I should mention it.

What really put me over the edge for "Still, Still, Still" was the arrangement by Mack Wilberg used on Terfel's recording. I couldn't find a YouTube clip of that, but there was one of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, so that will have to do. The harmonies in the accompaniment really are terrific, I think, giving a very simple melody an affecting depth.

The carol works just as well, unadorned, of course. I've posted such a version by the Vienna Choir Boys, followed by the rich Wilberg arrangement. I think you'll find both quite charming. With this gentle, tender music, I send Christmas greetings to one and all:


Posted by Tim Smith at 1:43 PM | | Comments (0)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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