German Romantic Christmas

German Romantic Christmas

by Hansjörg Albrecht


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German Romantic Christmas

The title and the Christmas-tree design of this release from Germany's Oehms label don't do it justice. It contains German Romantic Christmas music all right, but most of it dates from the later phases of that tradition. Works by Mendelssohn and Brahms are the earliest ones on the program, and there's a good deal of murky chromaticism from the likes of Reger, Rheinberger, and Sigfrid Karg-Elert, who is represented by a massive and quite unusual setting of "Vom Himmel Hoch, Op. 82/2." The disc is, in short, not a Christmas-favorites release at all. Far from it; much of the music is unfamiliar, at least outside Germany. But what you do get is distinctive, beautifully performed, and connected to the specific events being celebrated. The sonics are worth celebrating in themselves. The recording was made in St. Rupert's Catholic Church in Munich, home to a splendid organ reconstructed after its original home, the Royal Odeon, was leveled during World War II. The church produces profound reverberations (nine seconds, according to the booklet), and the varied forces -- the organ, the Munich Bach Choir, and musicians from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra -- are all expertly handled by the engineers. The listener experiences rich flows of sound each with its boundaries clearly marked; even by Oehms' usual standards this is an extraordinary job. The music is divided up into eight sections, each containing two or more pieces devoted to a section of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Within this larger structure, the music moves among organ pieces, chorale settings simple and complicated, and Latin motets. Aside from individual gems like the Karg-Elert work, the collection of pieces fascinates by virtue of its juxtaposition of severe proto-modernist styles with chorales and the whole idea of Christmas music. A novel idea on the part of conductor Hansjörg Albrecht and beautifully executed all around, this earns a strong recommendation for those in search of a serious Christmas disc.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/27/2009
Label: Oehms
UPC: 0812864018400
catalogNumber: 924
Rank: 243205


  1. Christi Geburt, for chorus & ensemble, Op. 35/1  (06:52)
  2. Machet die Tore weit, for chorus & ensemble  (02:35)
  3. Es kommt ein Schiff geladen, song for chorus (12 German Sacred Songs, No. 2)  (02:07)
  4. Maria durch ein Dornwald ging  (03:43)
  5. Nun wandre, Maria, song for voice & piano (Spanisches Liederbuch)  (03:19)
  6. Chorale Prelude for organ ("Macht hoch die Tür"), Op. 135a/16  (03:50)
  7. Choral prelude for organ ("Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen"), Op. posth. 122/8  (02:16)
  8. Sonata for organ No. 4 in A major, Op. 98: Andante pastorale

    1. Andante pastorale  (05:06)
  9. Hänsel und Gretel, opera: Abends, will ich schlafen gehn

    1. Abends, will ich schlafen gehn  (03:07)
  10. Choral-Improvisations (66, in 6 volumes) for organ, Op. 65: Vom Himmel hoch,

    1. Vom Himmel hoch,  (08:05)
  11. Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (adapted by W. H. Cummings from Mendelssohn's Festgesang for the Gutenberg Festival)  (03:20)
  12. Die Hirten: Hirten wachen im Feld, for chorus & ensemble  (03:10)
  13. Laßt uns das Kindelein wiegen  (02:17)
  14. In dulci jubilo, song for chorus (12 German Sacred Songs, No. 3)  (03:51)
  15. Feierlicher Einzug der Ritter des Johanniter-Ordens (Festival Procession), for brass & timpani, o.Op. 103 (TrV 224, AV 103)  (07:46)
  16. Drei Kön'ge Wandern Aus Morgenland  (02:32)
  17. Frohlocket, ihr Völker (Rejoice, O ye people), for double chorus in G major, Op. 79/1  (01:29)
  18. Quem pastores laudavere  (03:42)
  19. Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht (Silent Night)  (03:06)
  20. O du fröhliche, o du selige, gnadenbringende Weihnachtszeit, carol (tune "O Sanctissima")  (05:46)

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