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Glad Tidings: A Baroque Christmas

Release Date: 10/09/2012 
Label:  Eloquence   Catalog #: 4806552   Spars Code: DDD 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

GLAD TIDINGS: A BAROQUE CHRISTMAS Roger Norrington (cond); Heinrich Schütz Ch; London Str Players; Philip Jones Br Ens; Camden Wind Ens; Charles Spinks (org) DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 6552 (48:19)


I’ve expressed the opinion elsewhere in this issue that good Christmas-carol albums are, if not intended, at least destined, to be ignored. They Read more become, essentially, aural wallpaper. There is, however, another category of Christmas album: serious music expressly composed for the season. These albums carry a different burden. Their music, by and large, is unfamiliar, so, with rare exceptions ( Messiah , anyone?), they don’t sound like Christmas. When a package does not provide texts or translations, even of titles, as this one does not, the connection with the holiday becomes even more tenuous. Intellectually, we may accept it as a Christmas album, but effectively, it’s just another exploration of the early-Baroque tradition, stretched a bit to accommodate the Purcell anthem—which, I confess, stretched my patience as well. I thought it a bit of a ramble, but Purcell’s many admirers may disagree. The rest of the program is mostly German and Italian, exploring the transition from late Renaissance to early Baroque. This brings to mind a peculiar issue regarding this program and its notes. The notes, informative and well written, deal with the connections and influences between the various composers, a veritable 17th-century old-boys’ club. Presumably that’s what prompted this particular selection of works. But the seemingly random sequence of items on the disc tends to obscure those connections. Nevertheless, the selections are appealing and varied enough to maintain interest. Furthermore, they are very well performed. You won’t regret acquiring this disc; just don’t plan to play it as background music at your next holiday social. It won’t work.

FANFARE: George Chien
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