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Renaissance Christmas Music: Altdeutsche Weihnacht
Johannes ECCARD (1553-1611)

Ubers Gebirg Maria geht [6.09]
Johann WALTER (1496-1570)

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ [3.25]
Andreas REUSSNER (c.1660)

Uns ist ein Kindlein heut geborn [2.57]
Adam GUMPELZHAIMER (1559-1625)

Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her [3.30]
Arnolt SCHLICK (c1455-c1525)

Maria zart [4.39]
Michael PRAETORIUS (1571-1621)

In dulci jubilo [6.12]
A solis ortus cardine [7.24]
Es ist ein Ros entsprungen [3.52]
Bartholomaus GESIUS (c 1560-1613)

Christum wir sollen loben schon
Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem
Elly Ameling (soprano)
Bernhard Michaelis (alto)
Hans-Ulrich Mielsch (tenor)
Barry McDaniel (baritone)
Hans-Martin Linde (flute)
Ilse Brix-Meinert and Ulrich Koch (viola da braccio)
Johannes Koch (viola da gamba)
Walter Gerwig (lute)
Der Tolzer Knabenchor singt zur Weihnacht

Erhard BODENSCHATZ (1576-1636)

Joseph, lieber Joseph mein [1.42]
Orlando di LASSO (1532-1594)

Angelus ad pastores ait [2.24]
Resonet in laudibus [4.39]
Jacob HANDL (GALLUS) (1550-1591)

Omnes de Saba venient [1.46]
Johannes ECCARD (1553-1611)

Ich steh an diener Krippe hier [3.37]
Samuel SCHEIDT (1587-1654)

O Jerusalem zart [2.02]
Alpine Christmas Carols

Jetz fangen wir sum Singen an (Salzburg) [3.24]
Felsenharte Bethlehemiten (Munich) [2.53]
Auf, auf! Ihr Hirten in dem Feld [2.35]
Das allerschonst Kindl (Chiemgau) [2.39]
Das himmlische Tor (Tirol) [1.12]
Still, o Himmel! (Chiemgau) [3.49]
Dort oben am Berge, da wehet der Wind [1.13]
Wir woollen dankbar sein (Salzburg) [1.51]
Tolzer Knabenchor
Instrumental group/Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden
Recorded 1961 (Altdeutsche Weihnacht) and 1965 (remainder)
DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 2 CD 82876 69996 2 [41.51 + 35.53]

Iím not aware that these two delightful LPs, dating from 1961 and 1965, have been reissued on CD though I could certainly be wrong about the Elly Ameling Altdeutsche Weihnacht which should have been. And Iím not quite sure what price bracket DHM are pushing this slimline double because both LPs would fit quite comfortably on a single CD.[£11.99 -Len]

That said there are plenty of Renaissance and other delights awaiting the listener Ė rather more, itís true, in Amelingís selection than in the companion one in the selection of motets and Alpine works, attractive though this often is.

Ameling had a splendid viol consort as accompaniment, with flute, lute and the alto Bernhard Michaelis taking the leads, though there is also the supportive vocal tissue of tenor Hans-Ulrich Mielsch and baritone Barry McDaniel. The instrumental group imparts decisive warmth Ė we can note in passing the distinguished name of flautist Hans-Martin Linde Ė and one that blends most attractively with the solo and consort voices. Thereís no real sense that this is a recording now well over forty years old and no stylistic peculiarities to distract the ear. Amelingís purity of vocal production is enchanting in the Eccard, and no less so in Praetoriusís Es ist ein Ros entsprungen, which is one of the most mellifluously fluid and appealing of all these Christmas settings; its simplicity is warmly and joyously explored by the group. Reussnerís Uns ist ein Kindlein heut geborn allows one to appreciate Walter Gerwigís lute, whilst Lindeís flute playing is eloquent in Gumpelzhaimerís Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her.

Ameling always sings within expressive limits, neither pushing the voice nor indulging rubato; the vocal balance is excellent in even such a well-known piece as Gesiusís In dulci jubilo, which is once more vested with real generosity. Indeed the whole recital is attractively coloured and affectionately nuanced.

The Tolzer Knabenchor disc lasts just over half an hour and is an altogether simpler and more bonhomonious selection Ė though, that said, they do relish those crunching harmonies in Lassusís Angelus ad pastores ait and the almost as startling Resonet in laudibus. The choir has a good amplitude and they do well by the Alpine Carols with their rather rustic tone to the fore. The Salzburg carol Wir woollen dankbar sein is probably the pick of their selection, with its accompanying instrumental writing and harp adding a delightful patina to the sound world.

The Altdeutsche Weihnacht disc was certainly out on a Musical Heritage Society LP in the US but as I noted Iím not aware of it having been around since. A warm welcome back then in refurbished sound and rather limited notes.

Jonathan Woolf




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