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Himlische Weyhnacht
Martin LUTHER (1483-1549)
Von Himmel hoch, da komm ich her [1:39]
Hans Leo HASSLER (1564-1612)
Dixit Maria ad Angelum [2:51]
Christoph BERNHARD (1628-1692)
Furchet euch nicht [7:13]
Von Himmel hoch, da komm ich her [2:08]
Nicolaus BRUHNS (1665-1697)
Mein Herz ist bereit [9:50]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier [2:10]
Johann Valentin MEDER (1649-1719)
Jubilate Deo [6:38]
Sonata uber den Chorale Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern [1916:]
Heinrich Ignaz Franz BIBER (1644-1704]
Nisi Dominus [9:49]
Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585-1672)
Magnificat [7:42]
Jan Dismas ZELENKA (1670-1745)
Alma redemptoris mater [7:42]
Von Himmel hoch, da komm ich her [2:07]
Marie Luise Werneburg (soprano)
Klaus Mertens (bass)
Bell’arte Salzburg/Annegret Siedel
rec. 2015, St Pankratius Ochsenwerder, Hamburg
BERLIN CLASSICS 0300687BC [79:12]

This is a rather lovely disc of early festive music, running in time from Luther through to J. S. Bach, and which takes in some rather delightful and yet unfamiliar works en route. The disc opens, closes, and is punctuated in the middle, with Luther’s chorale Von Himmel hoch, da komm ich her, which provides something of a leitmotif for the disc. It is complemented by both concertante and vocal works, all of which seek to celebrate Christ’s birth.

Highlights of the disc include Bach’s setting of the devotional hymn Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier, the rather lovely instrumental (and anonymous) Sonata uber den Chorale Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern, Christoph Bernhard’s gently beautiful and mainly instrumental Furchet euch nicht with its extended “alleluia” and the rather jolly Meder Jubilate Deo. The standard of performances are very high indeed from Bell’arte Salzburg (a group that specialises in historical performances), under their assured and confident director Annegret Siedel. Soprano Marie Luise Werneburg and bass Klaus Mertens sing generally well also; Werneburg occasionally sounds slightly insecure, yet she clearly has a feel for the pieces being performed, and although Mertens sometimes strains towards the top of his register and can occasionally tend towards the flat side of notes, his enunciation is nevertheless excellent and he likewise captures well the moods of the works in question.

The production of the disc is also of top quality – it’s one of those discs with integral notes and tray, and design is attractive throughout – from the festive disc cover, through the eye-catching tray back – which design runs on to the booklet cover, to the clear and smart layout of the booklet. Full texts are provided, as well as very good and pretty comprehensive notes in both German and English, and artist biographies. Overall, this is a very good disc and to be recommended, especially for those looking for something different from the usual carol compilations.

Em Marshall-Luck



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