Music and Vision homepage



Christmas sounds are back


CD INFORMATION (Netherlands Bach Society)
CD INFORMATION (Lincoln Cathedral Choir)

Record Box


If you wonder what can possibly be fresh amongst the latest Christmas CDs, one of the two records I have chosen achieves this almost without trying.

Angels and Shepherds - a 17th Century Christmas. Copyright (c) 1999 Channel Classics Records bvThe Netherlands Bach Society here musically celebrates a 17th century Christmas by ignoring the modern craze for deluxe chromatic harnesses around simple tunes. Our Dutch friends draw upon the huge resources of 17th century choral music for a delightful celebration of the Nativity. Granted that the performers have much more of a challenge than a quick warm up on Silent Night just before a concert or carol service.

But what treasure there is for any choir that cares to dig just below the surface. Similarly for the listener, various traditions around Europe brought forth songs, carols, dialogues and hymns for Christmas, each distinct in form and with its own repertory. Any attempt at revival helps to loosen the straitjacket of convention. [Click to listen: Crüger's 'Fröhlich soll mein Herz springen'.]

The embrace of this collection, of course, is primarily upon our ears. It would be nice to hope that some chorusmaster readers will then be activated towards future performance. [Click to listen: Buxtehude's 'In dulci jubilo'.] Somebody is bound to point out that audiences / congregations will protest at the exclusion of some threadbare carols. There is a perfect answer.

Glad Tidings!The other CD deliberately follows the familiar pattern of a Nine Lessons' service complete with the usual musical trappings. I perceive a purpose: lessons are read by BBC personalities - Anna Ford, Jeremy Paxman, Michael Buerk, Canon Royle, and so on. Lincoln has suffered a rough ride in recent years. The music - like the readings - is excellently performed: expressive in quiet carols, firm and sonorous in the hymns and exultant music, and still topping the extra brass in climaxes. [Click to listen: Gardner's 'Tomorrow shall be my dancing day'.]

For the many people involved in this recording I hope that sales will justly reward the effort.


Copyright © Basil Ramsey, November 10th 1999 


 << Music & Vision homepage              Bach Gamba Sonatas >> 

Download realplayer G2 

To listen to the aural illustrations in this review,
you may need to download RealNetworks' realplayer G2.

Record Box is published every Wednesday.