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Mark O'Connor, 'Appalachian Christmas'

Violinist Mark O'Connor is a maestro of many genres, including folk, country, jazz and classical, all of which he brings to bear on this wide-ranging, holiday-themed set. Guests frequently set the tone: Jane Monheit jazzes up "The Christmas Song" and "Winter Wonderland"; soprano Renee Fleming turns the hymns "Amazing Grace"and "Away in a Manger" into stately chamber music recitals; James Taylor brings his folksy, intimate charms to "Ol’'Blue." O'Connor and his fiddle are in top form throughout, whether delivering a vaguely Celtic reading of "What Child Is This" or pulling off the nearly impossible feat of a non-annoying version of "Carol of the Bells."

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