Stille Nacht (Silent Night)
Und unser lieben Frauen [01:22]
Wach, Nachtigall, wach auf! [01:14]
Ein Kind geboren zu Bethlehem (lute solo) [01:15]
Mariä Verkündigung (Es flog ein kleins Waldvögelein) [03:20]
Es kommt ein Schiff geladen [02:00]
Maria durch ein Dornwald ging [01:32]
Es wollt ein Jäger jagen [01:17]
anon (Lute Book of Johannes Arpinus)
Praeambulum & Chorea (lute solo)
Sys willekomen heire kerst [01:38]
Uns ist geborn ein Kindelein [01:17]
Allemande & Courante (lute solo) [03:25]
Es ist ein Ros entsprungen [03:10]
Kommet, ihr Hirten [01:01]
Geborn ist uns ein Kindelein [02:04]
In dulci jubilo (lute solo) [00:54]
Vom Himmel hoch [03:08]
Ihr Kinderlein kommet [01:30]
Still, still, still [02:17]
Vom Himmel hoch (lute solo) [00:35]
Resonet in laudibus [02:19]
Susani, susani [02:40]
Stille Nacht [03:16]
Passacaglia in D (lute solo)
Laufet, ihr Hirten [01:11]
O, du fröhliche [01:24]
Quem pastores laudavere [00:56]
anon (Lute Book of Johannes Arpinus)
Passamezzo & Saltarello (lute solo) [01:15]
O Jesulein zart [02:49]
In dulci jubilo [03:14]
Mit diesem neuen Jahre [01:45]
Bettina Pahn (soprano); Joachim Held (lute)
rec. 29-31 January 2009, Erlöserkirche in Vahrendorf, Germany. DDD
HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 98.525 [59:30]
When a professional singer sets out to make a disc of traditional
songs, the best advice he or she can get is: keep it simple!
That is what Bettina Pahn has done, and that is why this disc
of traditional Christmas songs is a winner in every respect.
Because of the choice of music and the way it is performed this
disc is a treasure.
Let me start by getting my only criticism out of the way: the
lyrics are not in the booklet. That is not that much of a problem
for those who understand German, thanks to Ms Pahn's excellent
diction, but for non-German speakers this is a serious omission.
The disc is apparently not just directed to the German market,
as the programme notes are also in English. But in order fully
to enjoy the songs at least English translations should have
A search on the internet is worth the effort: the lyrics of
a number of songs can be found, sometimes with a translation.
The texts may differ in details as traditional songs sometimes
change with time, but they will at least give some idea of what
the songs are about.
Bettina Pahn is a young German singer who started to study the
cello and later turned to singing. This has been a happy decision
as in recent years she has made a good career, both in Germany
and internationally. She has been involved in the recording
of the complete vocal works of Dietrich Buxtehude by Ton Koopman,
and has also sung with renowned conductors like Frieder Bernius
and Pierre Cao. For a number of years she has worked with Joachim
Held, and this partnership has resulted in 2007 in a very fine
disc of German folk songs (Hänssler Classic CD 98.284).
The features of that disc are noticeable here as well. As I
have already stated Pahn has excellent diction. I could understand
practically every word she sang. This is also due to the recording;
the engineer has done a great job. But it is not just a matter
of diction, the projection of the voice is also very good, and
this allows her to follow every distinction in the text very
closely. This results in a natural delivery of the text and
a perfect expression of its content.
This is especially important as the various songs are quite
different in character. Some of them are hymns which are also
used by composers in cantatas or oratorios, like 'Vom Himmel
hoch' or 'In dulci jubilo'. Others are typical traditional songs,
like 'Kommet, ihr Hirten' or 'Es wollt ein Jäger jagen'. The
latter is a so-called contrafactum: the original secular
text has been replaced by sacred words. In this version the
hunter is hunting with the angel Gabriel. When they meet Mary
Gabriel tells her she is going to be the mother of Jesus. 'Mariä
Verkündigung' is also about the Annunciation, and again this
is a contrafactum. In 'Wach, Nachtigall, wach' the nightingale
is urged to fly to the cradle and sing for the newborn baby.
Some songs are lullabies, like 'Still, still, still' and 'O
Jesulein zart', which are sung with great finesse. Pahn feels
equally at home in the children's song 'Ihr Kinderlein kommet'.
To this category also belongs 'Susani, susani', which is a song
for the so-called Kindelwiegen (rocking the cradle).
Once this was a traditional ceremony during Christmas time in
Germany, but was also known in Flanders.
There are some songs which not only refer to the birth of Jesus,
but also to his Passion. Traditionally these always belonged
together, and a composer like Bach often connected them in his
music. One finds this connection, for instance, in 'Es kommt
ein Schiff geladen' which says that he who wants to embrace
Jesus also has to die and spiritually resurrect with him. Others
are 'Geborn is uns ein Kindelein' and the last song, written
for New Year, 'Mit diesem neuen Jahre'. Spiritual depth is even
present in a lullaby like 'Still, still, still' which says:
"Open heaven's realm to us, if we must die one day."
The differentiation in the programme isn't only reflected by
the variety in character between the songs, the music recorded
here also stretches from the Middle Ages to the early 19th century.
The oldest piece is from the 12th century, 'Sys willekomen heire
kerst', although fragments of it go back as far as the 10th
century. The latest piece is the famous 'Stille Nacht', which
is given a beautiful and unsentimental performance.
Lastly something about the lutenist Joachim Held. Among his
teachers were Eugen Dombois and Hopkinson Smith. He has developed
into one of the world's leading lute players. He regularly makes
recordings as soloist and often plays the basso continuo in
various ensembles and orchestras. On this disc he proves to
be a very refined and sensitive player, who follows and supports
Bettina Pahn very carefully. He also plays some solo pieces.
Among them are nice settings of Christmas songs by the German
lute player and composer Esajas Reusner. From the same composer
comes the substantial Passacaglia in D which contains some daring
This is a splendid disc for Christmastide which differs from
most discs for this time of the year. It contains several gems
which are hardly known, especially outside the German-speaking
world. The whole programme is intelligently put together and
performed with great refinement and subtlety. This is a disc
to listen to in peace and quiet.
Johan van Veen
A splendid Christmas disc with a number of little-known songs,
performed with great refinement and subtlety ... see Full Review