A Merry Christmas to All Our Readers!
I have chosen as a Christmas Present a recording of Franz Lizst's 'Weihnachtsbaum' (Christmas Tree) on YouTube:
Why? First, because it is late Liszt - after all the passions (religious and secular) of his youth he has settled down into old age and seriously pushing forward the boundaries of music (both Wagner and Debussy acknowledged their debt to him). This is seriously interesting music.
Secondly, because it has the right level of Christmas schmaltz and tinsel. The old man is looking back to that wonderful middle-European tradition of preparing a freshly chopped pine tree with beautiful candles, ribbons, bows etc and then letting the children see it at sundown on Christmas Eve, usually to some live musical accompaniment. Listen to the little candles lighting and feel the warm glow and smell of pine resin filling the whole room.
Finally, as befits a Third Order Franciscan, there is just the right level of (perhaps slightly melancholic) religiosity in it all. The familiar carols - O Come All Ye Faithful! and Good Christian Folk Rejoice! - take on beautiful new harmonies.
A little treat to enjoy with a glass of sherry while wrapping up your last presents!