Thursday, December 21, 2006

O Tannenbaum - Christmas On The Rhine (Decca Records)


On the surface, this may seem to be an ordinary German Christmas album. If you look and listen a little deeper, you just might find some surprises.  There are abundant copies of this album anywhere you look. eBay probably has a few copies listed for auction as you read this.

But... some album covers have some suspicious red writing directly under the words "Christmas on the Rhine".


These words read: "Mixed Chorus and Orchestra under direction of Werner Müller" That explains why this album is a cut above the rest.

When you heard the words "German Christmas record", visions of oompah bands and overbearing Teutonic singers straight out of a Wagner opera might have filled your head. Not this album.

This is a well-orchestrated, well-arranged, and well sung album. Many of the standards are covered ("O Tannenbaum", "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht") but there are a few gems that standout from the rest. "Leise Rieselt Der Schnee (The Snow Falls Quietly)" can be put alongside anything put out by Fred Waring.

"Am Weihnachtsbaum (By The Christmas Tree)" is lush and lovely - a perfect Christmas song. "Kling Glockchen (Ring, Little Bell)" is by far the winner. This song is bouncy, very catchy, and all the elements of the album are capsulated in this track. This is the one you'll remember!

Nehmen Sie hören sich (take a listen for yourself):


O Tannenbaum: Christmas On The Rhine


Happy listening...


Capt

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Son,
you made Christmas even brighter.
been searching for this on cd but you went one better.
for this, I thank you, the world thanks you.

My alltime favorite Christmas album.
Max

CaptainOT said...

Max - Glad I could help! Thanks!


Capt

Anonymous said...

Danke,Danke, Sehr danke....cherished this(33 1/3)for over 40 years,until it just wore out.
I was in Germany Christmas 2006 and no luck finding even a mention of this. You've made an old guy very happy.

Chuck said...

I listened to this in the 50's and 60's with my parents then transferred to tape in the 80's. We were just going to open presents with my wife and kids and I could not find the tape. Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much - Like a few other things in this life, I thought I'd never experience or hear this album again . . . it reminds me of my early youth in Upper Austria.

Anonymous said...

The album pictured is a re-recording of the original with the Werner Müller Orchestra, which was recorded in the very early 50's. I remember taking it to my first grade class around 1954. It included the Eric Bender Children's Choir singing Mozart's "Schlafe mein Prinzchen" and the Bavarian Radio Chorus singing "Transeamus." Later the same arrangements were recorded in stereo, but no orchestra was named, and there are no Mozart or Transeamus. I have that record also. Though the two records are practically identical, I much rather prefer the original. It is truly one of my favorite Christmas recordings, and I have scores of them.

CaptainOT said...

Chuck & all the Anons - It amazes me that a simple album holds many different special memories like this one does...

Glad to have helped you reconnect with them!


Capt

Anonymous said...

You are so right about this album. I grew up listening to this album at Christmas . My late father eventually put it on a cassette tape, scratches, pops and all, and we still listen to it. I am trying to find one of the old LPs in good condition so my daughter can share in the beauty and joy of this perfect Christmas offering..

Donald R. Resor said...

Does anyone know if the organ in these musical selections was a pipe organ or a electronic organ, and if so who was the manufacturer?

Thanks

hamh100-christrhine@yahoo.com

CaptainOT said...

Donald - The back of the album doesn't specify an organ type.

Anyone want to gander a guess?


Capt

Anonymous said...

my grandmother who came here from hamburg, played this album every christmas..my dad had this as well..it reminds me of christmas gone bye ...along with my pop and grandma as well..thank you ...

Edward said...

There are two versions of this record - as noted earlier.

Version One - original done by Werner Mueller and Orchestra. This was actually a SHELLAC - not vinyl - 33 1/3! Called the original 'Black Label'. Hard to find on eBay.

Version Two - a stereo re-record which is very faithful to the Black Label original. Missing the Mozart and Transeamus tracks. Easy to find on eBay.

I also have an original cassette of the Black Label version which I found many years ago in a cut-out bin! Kind of hissy and missing the extreme high-end. But - no ticks, pops or wear-out distortions!

I will upload some of these to Z-Share for your enjoyment!

Kind regards,

Edward/Ferndale, MI

CaptainOT said...

Edward - Thanks for your offer but I have both version of the album. Much appreciated!


Capt

Skiquiver said...

I would also like to add my sincere thanks for posting this album. My parents came to the US in '55(German & Czech), and this album was one of two that were the soundtrack of my childhood Christmas memories. I purchased a copy of the LP some time ago, but the MP3 version is much more portable! The other album, BTW, is "Christmas in Germany", a Capitol/EMI recording (SM-10095)from the Capitol International Series. Have you ever come across it?

Thanks again! Best wishes and holiday greetings to you and to all your visitors!

CaptainOT said...

Skiquiver - Keep checking back with us very, very, very soon...


Capt

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing! I hope to take this over to our Opa in his nursing home this Christmas. I know I will enjoy hearing it this season, too. "Soundtrack of my childhood" is a very apt description for me, too!

CaptainOT said...

Anon - Hope this brightens Opa's day! Best wishes to him and you/yours this Christmas!


Capt

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Skiquiver again - Google seems to be having a problem with my password (since last Saturday), so I'm posting this as "Anonymous":

Captain, you are a kind man! As suggested, I checked back "very, very, very soon" and was pleased to discover a posting of the album in question, "Christmas in Germany", two days after my question! (and with the original cover art, instead of the Gingerbread House on a pink background shown on the later release). Hopefully, I'll be able to return the kindness; I have some other out-of-print German Christmas albums that might be of interest to someone out there. I'm going to track down a digitizing rig over the holidays and get to work! Thanks again, and Froliche Weihnachten!

Jon Dunning said...

Thank you, thank you! Like many others responding, I grew listening to this album every Christmas with my family. Christmas couldn't officially begin as a matter of fact until the first notes of O' Tannenbaum chimed through the house!

I am hoping the combined resources present in this blog may also be aware of a 2nd DECCA record from the same timeframe entitled "A Christmas Song Festival - Songs of Christmas in Germany" (DL74169). This album featured Lolita, Willy Schneider, and the Schoeneberger Boy Choir, and others. My dad had copied both the "Christmas on the Rhine" and this album onto reel to reel tape and later to cassette, though none of those are available anymore. Would love to capture a digital copy of the second album if anyone has seen or heard of it. Thanks again for the link - great quality!

Froeliche Weinachten!
Jon

Anonymous said...

I am delighted and stunned! This is THE album of Christmas for me, played reverently while I was growing up and linking me to where my parents were from. Such beautiful music, nothing compares for me.

I was sad when our family vinyl became warped and scratched, though in recent years I still listened to an old taped copy I made. But just this Christmas, I too could no longer find even the tape.

This is one of the best Christmas presents I could ever have received.

Like the previous poster I would love to have those two other songs (they are on my old vinyl) or a download of the original album that has them.

Thank you again and I wish many kindnesses your way. Cheers!

CaptainOT said...

Jon & Anon - I never imagined that rescuing this album would have the impact as it has...

Thanks to you both and to all who have posted their comments here!


Capt

Palsa said...

I grew up listening to this album, it has always been one of my favorite.

Thank you for sharing. ^_^

jeremiad said...

I am amazed how some of your postings receive far more comments than others that receive none at all. I can understand why this album generates so much interest, though. It is truly outstanding. I am one of the few that must say that I had not heard it until last year. It is now one of my favorites.

Grey Maxim said...

Is there a link to download the "version one" mentioned above? I would love have a clean copy since my vinyl is so scratched and warped.

Quote:
"Version One - original done by Werner Mueller and Orchestra. This was actually a SHELLAC - not vinyl - 33 1/3! Called the original 'Black Label'. Hard to find on eBay.

Version Two - a stereo re-record which is very faithful to the Black Label original. Missing the Mozart and Transeamus tracks. Easy to find on eBay."

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this...I clicked the link to download and was so surprised when the entire album popped up!! Like so many others have said, this album is also very special to my family and has been treasured for decades. We refer to it as "real Christmas music" :)

Laura said...

I have a question if anyone can answer...
This has been a family controversy for years. My uncle insists that the album with the red writing under the title ("Mixed Chorus and Orchestra Under Direction of Werner Muller") is the "real" version, while copies of the records without the records are "phonies" with a different choir and everything. Can anyone clear this up? Because they both sound the same to the rest of us....
Thanks!!!!

Susan said...

O Tannenbaum: Christmas On The Rhine

I tried to download the zip file but it says it's for premium RapidShare members only.

Do you have another location where it can be downloaded for free? Maybe yousendit.com or dropbox.com.

Fraucoach said...

I brought these tracks on my iPod Touch to the nursing home where my father (our Opa) lives. He has very limited response but these songs elicit a big smile.

As I said to my family...this is the soundtrack of my childhood.

Thanks so much. LT

dahusker said...

My grandparents were Germany so our family always had lots of German Christmas Albums. I can't speak the language, but it isn't Christmas without the music. I have all the major label Christmas albums of the sixties along with any newer CD that I can find. I love to here "White Christmas" sung in German which is hard to find.

Anonymous said...

My Mother and her 6 siblings grew up on this alblum ... we have it in vinil but just couldnt get it in digital ... thankyou so much you have made a great number of people very happy this christmas.

Anonymous said...

Like so many other posters, this was played at every Christmas during my childhood. My dad was stationed in Munich during the Korean War and brought this back with him. We still have the original album, and every Christmas I continue the tradition by playing it for myself and my two boys (and I hope they will do the same years down the road). The purity of the voices brings Christmas to me in a way nothing else can.

Scirius said...

I have worked to dig up some additional information about this wonderful recording that may be of interest...

There are two versions (at least) of this material, Decca DL 8388 with 14 tracks, and a later release Decca DL78388, which lacks two tracks — Schlafe mein Prinzchen by Mozart, and Transeaumus (Gloria in Excelsis Deo) by Schnabel. I've compared the equivalent tracks on each record, and I can't hear anything to support the suggestion that these were recorded separately. A difference in the quality of the pressings, including perhaps the pitch, may be the reason for this perception.

The earlier DL 8388 recording appears to have been released in 1956, from a recording by Deutsche Grammophon-Polydor, as it was favourably reviewed in Billboard Magazine that year as a ‘new recording’ (http://is.gd/i4lBU). I suspect, but can’t confirm, that Polydor 46030 LPHM “O Tannenbaum, German Christmas Carols” with the ‘Santa Claus Orchestra with Choir and Bells’ (1958) is the same work.

The album is the work of Werner Müller (1920-1998, http://is.gd/i4Bh9) conducting a string orchestra and chorus (unnamed) with organ and bells. Mozart’s ‘Schlafe, mein Prinzchen’ features the Eric Bender Children's Chorus. Schnabel’s ‘Transeamus’ features the Bavarian Radio Chorus and Orchestra of Joseph Kugler. Presumably, but unconfirmed, Müller conducts the Orchestra on this occasion.

A track listing, with composers, follows:

1 O Tannenbaum (O Christmas Tree)
2 Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht (Silent Night) (Franz Xaver Gruber)
3 Kommet ihr Hirten (Come, Ye Shepherds)
4 Süßer die Glocken nie klingen (Sweeter the bells have never rung)
5 Leise rieselt der Schnee (The snow falls quietly) (Eduard Ebel)
6 Schlafe, mein Prinzchen (Sleep, my prince) (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
7 Von Himmel hoch, da komm ich her (From heaven above to earth I come) (Valentin Schumann; Martin Luther; Johann Sebastian Bach)
8 O du Fröhliche! O du Selige (O thou cheerful, O thou Holy one)
9 Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen (Lo, how a rose e'er blooming) (Michael Praetorius)
10 Am Weihnachtsbaum (On the Christmas tree)
11 Alle Jahre wieder (Every year) (Friedrich Silcher; Johann Wilhelm Hey)
12 Ihr Kinderlein kommet (Come hither, ye children) (Johann Abraham Peter Schulz; Christoph von Schmid)
13 Transeamus (Gloria In Excelsis Deo) (Josef Ignaz Schnabel)
14 Kling, Glöckchen kling (Ring, little bell) (Benedikt Widmann; Karl Enslin)

This wonderful, atmospheric recording has been a part of my Christmas tradition from my earliest memories. I was lucky to pick up virgin copies of the LP from a bargain ‘ends’ bin in my local record store almost 25 years ago, and have cared for this record and now enjoy it with my children as well.

Anonymous said...

Add me to the others that grew up listening to this wonderful album. Can't add much more to the glowing comments other than to say the tracks have been put onto two CD collections of Deutsche Grammophon's Original Masters series. Two tracks appear to be missing though - 'Von Himmel Hoch' and 'Susser Die Glocken Nie Klingen'. The liner notes state the performers "probably" as the Berlin Radio RIAS choir and orchestra.

The original German version of the album was titled "Lieder Zur Heiligen Nacht." The album cover was totally different with a nativity scene being observed by a "wistful-cherubic youngster."

Anonymous said...

I know others have mentioned this before, but does anyone have the original version they can upload (with the 2 additional songs.)

My grandmother and mother have been searching for: Schlafe, mein Prinzchen (Sleep, my prince) (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) for years and years and years. Emphasis on the years! I was able to dig up this album, but it's apparently not the "real deal" without this song! Great present that made them cry tonight, but bittersweet.

Any help would be appreciated! I will be checking in and hope to hope. Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, This is really great!

Anonymous said...

I just picked this album up at a resale shop in November of 2010. I listened to it over and over again. Absolutely fabulous. I thought I had discovered something all on my own, and then found out there were a lot of people who love this album.

agellius said...

I found this album covered in mold in a pile of junk in the basement of my apartment building, about 20 years ago. I cleaned it up and loved it instantly. Been enjoying it ever sin. I to am amazed that so many other people have even *heard* of it, yet alone love it like I do. : )

Anonymous said...

Still looking for the original version with the two other songs. Thank you!

deadrose said...

Augh! I feel like Charlie Brown now - I finally found this, and the link is dead!

I've been hunting for this for so many years!

Isa said...

I'm trying to download this for my dad, he used to listen this record when he was a child, but the link is dead!! Can you make it work again please!!! You'd save my life and my dad's Xmas!!

Anonymous said...

I have many memories of this record around Christmas time and am heartened to see so many share the same sentiment. My parents, who were from Germany, bought a small hi-fi record player when I was young and this is the first LP my mom bought.

Anonymous said...

I too have very fond memories of this album. I have a copy of it, and it is in excellent condition as it was only played at Christmas. I copied it onto a tape and wore it(the tape)out. Now I want it on my Ipod so I can listen to it. Viele danke. Dianne

Thor Jonsson said...

Any chance for a re up, this album was a mainstay during my childhood and after over a decade of actively searching I find it here :) So excited to hear this again!

Anonymous said...

Woe is me! After all these years trying to find this wonderful album, heart soaring when sis sent me this link, and now dashed to pieces on finding the link to the treasure is dead. Can is be restored??

the Baron said...

I have this album on cassette, but haven't yet been able to find it on CD anywhere. It's my favorite album of German Christmas music.