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rec St Mary, Eggolscheim, 2016

Here we have a truly beautiful disc of advent music – this time German advent songs, sung, unusually, by a group of five sisters – Monika, Agnes, Franziska, Maria and Cordula Tscheschke, accompanied in a couple of works by Hans Tschuschke – presumably a brother or father. They have been singing together since childhood, and are convinced that related voices form a special type of ensemble. Listening to this disc, one would not disagree – the voices do indeed blend most beautifully. The booklet notes are just slightly too brief – there’s not enough about the actual individual works, sources, or composers, and they are slightly self-indulgent – the reader is treated as a friend to whom the author (Franziska) is speaking or confiding; yet they are nevertheless good at scene- setting, and explain that the spur to the disc was a shared love of Advent, and a shared childhood memory of a large and simple Advent wreath hung in their living room, before which the entire family gathered each evening and sang Advent works before heading off to bed.

The works themselves are in special arrangements for the five (sometimes six) voices – these the group commissioned from composer friends of theirs. Many of the works featured are mediaeval and anonymous; a few are well-known Advent carols, such as O komm, o komm, Immanuel (this is particularly beautiful in the very pure five-voice version); and some are more modern – the Gottfried Wolters Ich brach drei Reiselein and Johann Petzold Die Nacht ist vorgedrungen. To be honest, it is well-nigh impossible to pick out highlights, because all of these are immensely lovely works – some lighter and more festive; some serene and peaceful; others darker and haunting, yet all shine with beauty and spirit. The sisters’ performances work perfectly well with the repertoire they have chosen. There is a sense of vulnerability in their singing, particularly at the top of the register, and perhaps as if they are trying to be very careful about intonation (which is generally pretty good, actually), but this in fact adds to the appeal of the singing, rather than detracting from it, adding a fragility that is in keeping with the precious works. I must confess to having hugely enjoyed listening to this disc; I will most certainly be returning to it again.

Em Marshall-Luck

Macht hoch die Tur [1:39]
Maria durch ein Dornwald ging [3:10]
O Heiland res die Himmel auf [4:29]
Michael PRAETORIUS (1571-1621)
Glaubige Seel [3:39]
Mit Erst, o Menschenkinder [4:43]
Und unser lieben Frauen [1:30]
O komm, o komm, Immanuel [2:25]
Maria durch ein Dornwald ging [4:12]
Es kommt ein Schiff, geladen [2:01]
Johann CRUGER (1598-1662)
Wie soll ich dich empfangen [3:38]
Gottfried WOLTERS (1910-1989)
Ich brach drei Reiselein [1:59]
Michael PRAETORIUS (1571-1621)
Der Morgensetern ist aufgedrungen [1:56]
Martin LUTHER (1482-1546)
Nun komm der Heiden Helland [4:08]
Marien wart ein Bot gesant [3:17]
Johann PETZOLD (1912-1985)
Die Nacht ist vorgedrungen [4:04]
Johann CRUGER (1598-1662)
Wie soll ich dich empfangen [2:40]



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