Imagine Christmas

Remember those annual LPs the Firestone and Goodyear tire companies used to put out back in the 1960s, chockablock with Christmas favorites performed by stars that might range on a single record from Leontyne Price to Stan Getz? The Sono Luminus label has captured that retro spirit in this LP-length CD (38 minutes) featuring a dozen excellent artists or ensembles from their roster. No compilation of back-catalog material, this; every track is newly conceived and recorded, most of them in imaginative arrangements that charm while defying expectations. The Ensemble Galilei, known for rousing Renaissance-music interpretations (often with Celtic inflections) offers its signature style — while playing “Frosty the Snowman.” The Jasper String Quartet assumes accents of Western swing in “Holly Jolly Christmas,” and the Cuarteto Latinoamericano sets aside its accustomed classics by Revueltas or Chávez for a lightly Latin take on “Joy to the World,” with percussionist Lydia Lewis. Cellist Kathryn Bates, of the Del Sol String Quartet, offers a soulful, lingering rumination on “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” dense in the sort of polyphony we expect from Bach’s Cello Suites, and violinist Irina Muresanu delivers a nostalgic rendition of “White Christmas” in Jascha Heifetz’s transcription. Skylark, a high-quality, professional chamber choir, also strikes a wistful posture in “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and American Contemporary Music Ensemble blows your mind with a shimmering rethinking of “Silent Night,” as icy and nebulous as the aurora borealis.