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Musical Gifts from Joshua Bell and Friends / Audiophile Audition review

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Famed violinist Joshua Bell follows up his star-studded 2009 CD, At Home with Friends, with Musical Gifts from Joshua Bell and Friends, a holiday album which supports the same concept: a bevy of colleagues and artists gathered together, this time to lend talents to end-of-year musical festivities. The 16-track, 67-minute outing showcases jazz (Chick Corea, Julian Lage, Branford Marsalis), classical (Renée Fleming, Plácido Domingo), crossover (Chris Botti), country (Alison Krauss), stage (Michael Feinstein, Kristin Chenowith), plus much more. Bell's varied repertoire runs from perennial favorites ("Let It Snow" and "White Christmas") to Jewish music ("Baal Shem: Simchat Torah"), and from traditional ("Greensleeves" and "Ave Maria") to parody (the enticing and fun "Christmas Confusion"). Thus, the program offers plenty of diversity, which helps maintain interest and provides both continuity and a wider scope than similar wintertime records.

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