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Schütz: Christmas Vespers / McCreesh, Gabrieli Consort and Players
Gregorian Chant, Heinrich Schutz, Gabrieli Consort and Players
Schütz: Christmas Vespers / McCreesh, Gabrieli Consort and Players
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (34) - Disc #1

Heinrich Schütz's Christmas Story, besides being a historical milestone, has always been one of 17th-century music's crowd-pleasers--the former because it's the ancestor of Christmas oratorios by Bach, Charpentier, and eve...  more »

     
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Amazon.com
Heinrich Schütz's Christmas Story, besides being a historical milestone, has always been one of 17th-century music's crowd-pleasers--the former because it's the ancestor of Christmas oratorios by Bach, Charpentier, and even Berlioz; the latter because it presents engaging depictions of the characters in the Nativity story with a cornucopia of colorful instruments (piping recorders for the shepherds, a galumphing bassoon (representing the gait of the camels?) for the three wise men, regally blaring cornets for King Herod, and pompous trombones for his priests). As you might expect, there are a number of fine recordings of this proto-oratorio, from the graceful and somewhat delicate rendition of René Jacobs to the high-energy performance of Robert King. As usual, Paul McCreesh goes where no one has gone before, showing us the context for which Schütz probably wrote the work in the first place: a Christmas Day Vespers service at the court in Dresden where the composer was chapel master. McCreesh's reconstruction includes thrilling performances of two Christmas hymns (with tunes by Luther himself), organ music by Scheidt, a psalm from Schütz's collection Psalmen Davids, a delicate motet for four soloists, and (in an electrifying reading) a lavish multiple-choir Magnificat. Alongside all these, McCreesh's rendition of the Christmas Story seems--well, not lackluster, exactly (it's very skillfully done, and Susan Hemington Jones as the Angel is a particular treat), but a bit less inspired than the rest of the program. So if that one work is all you care about, you may want to consider the Jacobs or King versions; otherwise, this disc won't disappoint--it's as exciting a Christmas record as you'll find. --Matthew Westphal
 

CD Reviews

Splendid choral sound and fabulous organ in superb acoustic
03/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This fine recording continues the tradition started by the Consort with their Praetorius Christmas recording released several seasons ago. The organ sound is rich and impressive, and the choral sound is, as usual, impeccable. Charles Daniels is an effective evangelist in the Schutz Christmas Oratorio, though he is not as sonorous as John Mark Ainsley on Hyperion. This as close as I come to a cavil regarding this very fine recording."
Wonderful--but get another Oratorio for comparison
Archimedes | Pennsylvania | 04/14/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"First of all, I was enthralled by the singing and the organ sound: very rich and musical in every way. The congregational singing, specifically, is superb, and the CD is worth buying for everything that comes before and after the Christmas Historia.The historia, though, is an edition that is disconcerting to me. Perhaps I have heard versions that are less "authentic" than this one, but there are enough differences between the McCreesh and other versions I have heard that I must assume others will be affected the same way."