One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

in the first division


extraordinary by any standards


An excellent disc


a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.


Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now
RECORDING OF THE MONTH


A Garland for John McCabe


ABRAHAMSEN Quartets


DIETHELM Symphonies


The best Rite of Spring in Years


BACH Magnificat


Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26


Just enjoy it!


.
La Mer Ticciati

Eriks EŠENVALDS

Detlev GLANERT

Jaw-dropping

 

 

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
Neuer Knabenchor Hamburg, Jens Bauditz (conductor)
Rufus Beck (reader)
rec. February-April 2016, St Gertrud-Kirche, Hamburg (carols), Isarklang, Munich (readings)
RONDEAU ROP6125 [66:41]

From the title to the contents, this is very much a homage to the annual service from King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. Jens Bauditz underlines the Cambridge inspiration in his booklet notes, and there is even a booklet photograph of the King’s College chapel. The Cambridge connection ends there, though, for not in a hundred years would one ever confuse this recording with those emanating from King’s.

For a start, there are the readings. Recorded separately from the singing (and in a wholly different acoustic) and drawn from non-Biblical sources as diverse as Francis Church, James Krüss, Kurt Tucholsky, Wilhelm Busch, Frances Browne and Agatha Christie, they are all delivered in German by the same rather gentle male voice.

Then there are the carol arrangements themselves. No soaring Willcocks descants (although Willcocks’s version of ‘Away in a Manger’ appears in a disturbingly bouncy performance – were they confusing this with “rock-a-bye baby”?), no contrived Cleobury harmonies, no smoochy Rutter accompaniments. Everything is straight, direct, conventional and unaccompanied. One or two would make unusual, but by no means inconceivable, additions to the King’s service; a breathlessly syncopated extract from Kurt Nystedt’s Missa Brevis and the only German-language item from the choir, Meeres Stille which the Neuer Knabenchor Hamburg commissioned themselves especially for this recording from Gloria Bruni. And at least one – Leontovych’s annoyingly repetitive Carol of the Bells – we would hope never to hear from King’s. A very coarse gallop through Byrd’s O Magnum Mysterium is the only thing here which makes for genuinely uncomfortable listening.

But the most obvious difference is the singing of the Neuer Knabenchor Hamburg. From the exceptionally athletic romp through Once in Royal David’s City it is clear that we are a million miles away from the traditions of an English choral Christmas. Some unidiomatic pronunciation occasionally intrudes, although the choir’s English diction is generally excellent, and a raw tenor and bass tone does nothing to soften the very brittle boys’ sound. There was a time when we might have described this as “continental” tone, but so integrated has this style of singing become in English Cathedral choir stalls that to hear it from genuinely continental voices does come as a bit of a shock.

By no means an unwelcome shock, however, and there are some pieces here where the singing has more brightness, agility and simple liveliness than King’s. I am particularly attracted to the lovely swing they give to In dulci jubilo, even if it does go a bit off the rails later on, while Bauditz gives Adam Lay Y-bounden such a rhythmic kick that it takes on an altogether different character. The perky account of Ding! Dong! Merrily on High and a gloriously vivid version of Riu, riu, chiu make this CD, for all its strangeness (to English ears), a refreshing addition to the Christmas scene.
 
Marc Rochester

Contents
Arthur Henry Mann (1850-1929): Once in Royal David’s City [1:51]
William Byrd (1543-1623): O Magnum Mysterium [2:20]
Boris Ord (1897-1961): Adam Lay Y-bounden [1:12]
Charles Wood (1866-1926): Ding! Dong! Merrily on High [1:44]
Mykola Leontovych (1877-1921): Carol of the Bells [1:30]
Michael Praetorius (1571-1621): A Great and Mighty Wonder [3:04]
Franz Xaver Grüber (1787-1863): Silent Night [2:23]
Robert Lucas Pearsall (1795-1856): In dulci jubilo [3:26]
Kurt Nystedt 91915-2014): Missa Brevis – Gloria [1:38]
Richard Runciman Terry (1865-1938): The First Nowell [2:44]
arr. Jens Bauditz (b.1981): God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen [1:42]
William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921): Away in a Manger [1:45]
Gloria Bruni (b.1955): Meeres Stille [4:34]
Spanish 16th century: Riu, riu, chiu [1:29]
William Henry Monk (1823-1889): As with Gladness Men of Old [1:15]
John Francis Wade (1711-1786): O Come all ye Faithful [2:30]
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847): Hark! The Herald Angels Sing [1:48]

 

 




Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger