November 13, 2008

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Celtic Woman, The Greatest Journey: Essential Collection
Manhattan Records, Oct. 28
Christmas doth approach, and with it the lure of mature, romantic alternatives to Rudolph and Frosty songs, stuff that puts one in a buy-at-full-retail mood, polishing off the last few pence of the Mastercard. And why the hell not.

The live Celtic Woman experience — a God-sized Broadway sound made even more colossal with the voices of five Sarah Brightmans and the outfit’s Tinkerbell, violinist Mairead — is captured as well as could be hoped, the only thing missing being the smell of blue-haired ladies drenched in rosy perfume.

Enya is always Christmas-y, and the addition of her “Orinoco Flow,” albeit overly pasteurized, is apropos enough for the setting, a collection of the company’s favorite tunes, among them a haunting but inviting “Ave Maria,” the triumphantly booming “Dulamán,” and a couple of ecstatic violin, er, fiddle vehicles (“Butterfly,” “Shenandoah”). Fittingly, the set ends with two live show-stoppers recorded at Slane Castle, this after the big knuckleball, a thorough beautifying of Rat Pack anthem “Beyond the Sea.” AEWS