Notes and Editorial Reviews
This recycling of Saint-Saëns?s seldom heard
Oratorio de Noël
is well worth acquiring, assuming you do not already have its Calig label original.
The composer was only 23, and had not yet grown contemptuous of church dogma as he would later be, when he wrote this modest, devotional, and mostly contemplative work in 1858. Its earnest simplicity is easily mistaken for naiveté, but the world of innocence it evokes is not far afield from the affected
conjured by Berlioz in his
L?enfance du Christ
. Most of Saint-Saëns?s musical fingerprints from his more widely known, mature works are in evidence throughout the score?the exquisite aptitude for melody, the seemingly improbable yet always persuasive rightness of the harmonic progressions and their heart-easing resolutions, and the perfection of balance between tension and repose. All of this comes together in the meltingly beautiful ?Tecum principium?
(track 7) trio for soprano, tenor, bass, and harp, over four minutes of music guaranteed to transport you to a place of radiant bliss.
While a scattering of non-mainstream recordings by various amateur or semiprofessional choral societies are, or once upon a time were, available, commercial label recordings of the piece appear to be thin on the ground at the present time. That the current Profil retread offers less than 40 minutes of playing time is offset by its ready availability and, as luck would have it, it is a really quite fine performance.
FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
Works on This Recording
Christmas Oratorio, Op. 12 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Edith Wiens (Soprano),
Helena Jungwirth (Alto),
Verena Schweizer (Soprano),
Friedreich Melzer (Tenor),
Kurt Widmer (Bass),
Hans-Joachim Bartsch (Organ),
Barbara Biermann (Harp)
Mainz Bach Choir,
Mainz Bach Collegium
Written: 1858; France
Date of Recording: 1976
Venue: Christuskirche, Mainz, Germany
Length: 39 Minutes 43 Secs.
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