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Here's Stéphane's Holiday Playlist

SLSO Music Director Stéphane Denève always has music playing in his head. So, what does he listen to around the holidays? Stéphane picks his favorite holiday music, from an instant classic to some less well-known works.

Here's what he said:

The Nutcracker – Tchaikovsky

“When I hear this music, it captures the dreaminess of the Christmas spirit. You have this feeling of coziness and of a fairy tale under the bed covers. I love it. The Nutcracker is a piece I can hardly remember hearing at another time of year.”

Hansel and Gretel – Engelbert Humperdinck

“It’s not about Christmas, actually. But when I hear the overture or the pantomime of Hansel and Gretel, I just have this feeling that I’m marvelling at a fairy tale.”

Une cantate de Noël (A Christmas Cantata) – Arthur Honegger

“This piece is a real discovery. It is too rarely performed, unfortunately. At the end of the piece, Honegger uses a children’s choir singing carols from Christmas. It has a fervor that I think is very touching.”

Petit Papa Noël – Tino Rossi

“When I was a child, there was this song, ‘Petit Papa Noël,’ sung by Tino Rossi. He was a singer from Corsica. He had a high tenor voice, super sweet, and it was a way too cheesy song. But it is the song of Christmas in France.”

The Magic Flute – Mozart

“It’s a time when you just want to go back to childhood. It’s a time when you want to feel that you’re part of a family. The Magic Flute gives me that feeling.”

Sleigh Ride – Leroy Anderson

“This song, for me, sounds like a great department store decorated for the holidays. In Paris, I used to love visiting the Galeries Lafayette at Christmas, which was a store decorated with magnificent lights and animation. People would come from all over France to see this.”

La bohème, Act II – Puccini

“The second act of the opera where the characters are in Café Momus is really an extraordinary depiction of Christmas time. I can smell the roasted chestnuts that they sell on the streets of Paris when I hear this.”

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