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A Star Over Bethlehem - Choral Jewels for Christmas


Release Date: 11/14/2000 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8555049   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachTraditionalElisabeth PostonJohann Pachelbel,   ... 
Performer:  J. Reilly LewisJoseph HoltJanice ChandlerJames Shaffran,   ... 
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts SocietyWashington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Jewels indeed. And the singing ain't bad either. This is another in a very satisfying group of recent Christmas choral discs that strive to offer some terrific, rarely recorded "gems" along with a welcome mix of familiar--but mostly not too familiar--pieces. Beginning with Bach's "Break forth, O beauteous heav'nly light" from the Christmas Oratorio, the program proceeds with hardly a breath to Richard Dirksen's earth-awakening setting of William Austin's poem Chanticleer (why isn't this piece performed more?) and goes on to blend more Bach (Wachet auf) with Howells (A Spotless Rose), Reger (Maria Wiegenlied), more Bach (Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern), Mendelssohn (There shall a star come out of Jacob), and a Read more regular carol arrangement or two--Here We Come a-Wassailing (Rutter), Deck the Hall ( a jazzy 7/8 version by James McKelvy). Well, perhaps Elizabeth Poston's Jesus Christ the Apple Tree is getting a little overworked, but it's beautifully sung and this a cappella setting fits nicely into the overall program, which also includes organ and orchestra. Soprano Janice Chandler sings nice solo versions of He's got the whole world in His hands and Sweet little Jesus boy (with piano accompaniment), and there's a cute little twist on Away in a Manger, written by Edmund Walters--it begins with a countermelody, sung by the women, that's nothing like the original tune, which we don't hear until the end, hummed by the men's voices.


Organist J. Reilly Lewis treats us to a brilliant performance of Bach's chorale prelude BWV 615 (In Dir ist Freude), and another Bach piece, O Jesulein süss (harmonized by Martin Shaw) gets a tender and lovely a cappella rendition by the choir. This is a very well-disciplined ensemble--and it has to be in order for this many voices (around 100) to sing with such precision and clarity. (The liner notes list only sopranos and altos--I swear there are lots of men singing too!) The sound, optimally recorded in an ideal church setting, is excellent. [11/3/2000]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: no 12, Brich an, du schönes Morgenlicht by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society,  Washington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1734-1735; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 1 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Language: German 
2.
In dulci jubilo by Traditional
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society,  Washington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12th Century; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 2 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is sung in Latin and English.
Arranged: John Rutter 
3.
Jesus Christ the Apple Tree by Elisabeth Poston
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society,  Washington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967; England 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 3 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Language: English 
4.
Orgelbüchlein: In dir ist Freude, BWV 615 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  J. Reilly Lewis (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1713-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 2 Minutes 27 Secs. 
5.
O Jesulein süss, O Jesulein mild, BWV 493 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1736; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 3 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Arranged: Martin Shaw (?) 
6.
Vom Himmel hoch, da komm' ich her by Johann Pachelbel
Performer:  J. Reilly Lewis (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1693; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 1 Minutes 53 Secs. 
7.
Chorale Preludes (6) BWV 645-650 "Schübler": no 1, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  J. Reilly Lewis (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1748-1749; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 4 Minutes 13 Secs. 
8.
Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1: no 1, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society,  Washington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 8 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Language: German 
9.
He's got the whole world in His hands by Traditional
Performer:  Joseph Holt (Piano), Janice Chandler (Soprano)
Written: USA 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 3 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranged: Margaret Bonds 
10.
Carol-Anthems (3) for Chorus: no 2, A spotless rose by Herbert Howells
Performer:  James Shaffran (Baritone)
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918-1920; England 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 2 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Language: English 
11.
Deck the Halls by Traditional
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society,  Washington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Written: Wales, UK 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 1 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranged: James McKelvy 
12.
The Babe of Bethlehem by Edmund Walters
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society,  Washington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 3 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Language: English 
13.
Tu scendi dalle stelle by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society,  Washington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 2 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: Arranged: Walter Ehret 
14.
Here we come a-wassailing by Traditional
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society,  Washington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 3 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: John Rutter. 
15.
Kling Glöckchen, klingeling by Traditional
Performer:  Dotian Levalier (Harp)
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 1 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Arranged: Walter Ehlert and Dotian Levalier 
16.
Tomorrow shall be my dancing day, Op. 75 no 2 by John Gardner
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society,  Washington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965; England 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 1 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Language: English 
17.
Hodie Christus natus est, SWV 456 by Heinrich Schütz
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society,  Washington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Written: 1640-50 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 6 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
18.
Sweet Little Jesus Boy by Robert MacGimsey
Performer:  Janice Chandler (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; USA 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 2 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Language: English 
19.
Chanticleer by Richard Dirksen
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society,  Washington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 2 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Language: English 
20.
Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1: no 6, Wie bin ich doch so herzlich froh by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society,  Washington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 1 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Language: German 
21.
Chorales (79) for Organ, Op. 28: no 41, In dulci jubilo by Marcel Dupré
Performer:  J. Reilly Lewis (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 1 Minutes 40 Secs. 
22.
Schlichte Weisen (60), Op. 76: no 52, Maria Wiegenlied by Max Reger
Performer:  Janice Chandler (Soprano)
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1912; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 2 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Orchestrated: Reger 
23.
Christus, Op. 97: There Shall a Star by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Washington Choral Arts Society,  Washington Choral Arts Society Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 5 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Language: English 
24.
Pastorale in F major, BWV 590: 2nd movement, Andante by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  J. Reilly Lewis (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1710; Weimar, Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  St. Luke Catholic Church, McLean, VA 
Length: 3 Minutes 0 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Brich an, O schones Morgenlicht
Chanticleer
In dulci jubilo (arr. John Rutter): In dulci jubilo
Jesus Christ the Apple Tree
In Dir ist Freude, BWV 615
O Jesulein suss, o Jesulein mild, BWV 493 (arr. for choir): O Jesulein suss, BWV 493
Von himmel hoch
Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1: Final Chorale
Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1: Opening Chorus
He's Got the Whole World in His Hands (arr. Margaret Bonds): He's Got the Whole World in His Hands
In dulci jubilo
A Spotless Rose
Schlichte Weisen, Op. 76: Maria Wiegenlied
Christus, Op. 97: There Shall a Star Come Out of Jacob
Deck the Halls (arr. James McKelvy): Deck the Halls
Babe of Bethlehem
Pastorale, BWV 590: Second Movement
Tu scendi dalle stelle (arr. W. Ehret): Tu scendi dalle stelle
Here We Come a-Wassailing (arr. John Ritter): Here We Come a-Wassailing
Kling, Glockchen (arrs. Ehret, Levalier): Kling, Glockchen
6 Schubler Chorales, BWV 645-650: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645
Tomorrow shall be my dancing day: Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day
Hodie Christus natus est, SWV 456
Sweet Little Jesus Boy

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Great singing, sound quality only fair December 24, 2013 By Christian  B. (Price, UT) See All My Reviews "I like this disc for the big American sound. As much as I love the English choral tradition at Christmas, it's sometimes hard finding an American choral group doing these classics. Well, here's a fantastic, big American choir. I'm not sure that there is real thematic coherence running through the disc (i.e., Bach, Howells, some traditional American and Austrian stuff), but who cares - each song is superb. I only wish they had gotten the microphones closer. The sound is not bad, it's just too low. My favorite on the disc is Chanticleer, worth the price of the disc itself. Also, the "In Dulci Jubilo" does not drag, as is so often the case with other choirs." Report Abuse
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