Bell' Arte Salzburg: Seventeenth Century Christmas Eve [CD]

(No reviews yet) Write a Review
W&W 910 078-2
0.15 KGS
Hard Cover
Release Year:

Product Overview

The shortest days of the year, those preceding the winter solstice and the date chosen by Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus, as a sign that Jesus Christ is Light and that he will drive away the darkness - this time of the year was once a quiet and peaceful one, free of the chronic chaos which we know today. It was a period filled with wonderful traditions: three hundred years ago, green twigs were carefully chosen to decorate the interiors of houses from floor to ceiling, transforming them into summery arbors, apples were hung to the branches to symbolize fertility, gingerbread biscuits were exchanged as wishes of longevity, paper roses stood for the prime of life, and the fruit of the mistletoe plucked by a couple meant that they would be blessed with children.

Susanne Rydén (soprano) and Bell'Arte Salzburg celebrate 17th century Christmas music from the German-speaking world. "Seventeenth Century Christmas Eve" is a musical account of the story of Christmas, put together by Annegret Siedel and Dr. Konrad Ruhland, one of the best-known ancient music specialists. The pieces which were chosen stem from all over the German-speaking world and reflect the great variety of baroque Christmas music, from simple traditional songs to ceremonial liturgical singing, all the way to magnificent representational music.

Dietrich Buxtehude, organist in Lübeck, Northern Germany, opens this lyrical drama on the birth of Christ with a text from the Gospel according to John. Johann Rosenmüller, assistant to the Leipzig Thomascantor Tobias Michael, represents the Saxon-Thuringian tradition of cantors with his small religious concerto "Lieber Herre Gott". Schmelzer and Biber, who were Kapellmeister at the courts of Vienna and Salzburg respectively, enrich this musical account with two pastoral sonatas, a Southern German specialty of shepherd Christmas music. The music of the choral adaptation "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" by Franz Tunder, who was the stepfather of Buxtehude and his predecessor in Lübeck, is indissociable from the Christmas celebration. The setting to music of the Christmas prophesy from the book of Isaiah was a specialty of the Vogtland and Erzgebirge regions; this is where Johann Georg Reichardt composed cantatas in an already distinctively late baroque form. The pastoral trio sonata by Benedikt Anton Aufschnaiter, Kapellmeister at the Passau court and cathedral, is based on a stanza song with instrumental variations, opening and closing with a pastorale. Pal Esterhazy's Wiegenlied takes us to Kaiser Leopold's Vienna and the Strassburg cathedral organist Philipp Friedrich Böddecker adapts the traditional "Joseph, lieber Joseph mein". The pastoral sonata in two movements by Johann Josef Fux, Kapellmeister at the Vienna court and one of Austria's most influential composers, stands out due to its personalized synthesis of a firmly rooted musical tradition and the influence of the Italian style. The religious concerto "Ach mein herzliebes Jesulein" by the Hannover organist Melchior Schildt is an early example of what was to develop, mostly during the second half of the 17th century, into a specific Northern German approach to choral adaptation. This piece is based on the choral "Vom Himmel hoch, da komme ich her". Sources from that period quote Georg Christoph Leuttner, Kapellmeister in Altötting, as a remarkable composer. However, his works have almost completely been forgotten. "Alma redemptoris mater" was taken from the only known collection of religious vocal music to have been preserved until today. Our voyage through Christmas past ends with the stanza song "Erfreue sich Himmel, erfreue sich Erde" by the Regensburg cathedral's organist Johann Georg Reichwein.

Musicians   Compositions
Susanne Rydén: [soprano]
Bell'Arte Salzburg:
Annegret Siedel [musical director, baroque violin]
Fritz Kircher [baroque violin]
Irene Klein [viola da gamba];
Matthias Müller [viola da gamba, violon]
Margit Schultheiß [chamber organ];
Hubert Hoffmann [baroque lute]
  1. Also hat Gott die Welt geliebet [Dietrich Buxtehude] 
2. Lieber, lieber Herre Gott [Johann Rosenmüller]
3. Sonata Pastorella [J. H. Schmelzer] 
4. Wachet auf! ruft uns die Stimme [Franz Tunder]
5. Weihnachts-Weissagung [Joh. Georg Reichard]
6. Kommt beschauet die Weisoheit [B. A. Aufschnaiter]
7. Cur fles Jesu [Pal Esterhazy]
8. Pastorella [Heinr. Ig. Fr. Biber]
9. Natus Est Jesus [P. F. Böddeker] 
10. Pastorale a tre [Johann J. Fux] 
11. Ach mein herzliebstes Jesulein [Melchior Schildt]
12. Alma Redemptoris Mater [Georg C. Leuttner]
13. Aria de Navitate Domini [Johann G. Reichwein]

total time: 69:01
Five Stars
November 20, 2001
BBC Music Magazine:
Christmas selection
December 2001


(No reviews yet) Write a Review