A Star Over Bethlehem - Choral Jewels for Christmas

Release Date: 11/14/2000
Label: Naxos
Catalog Number: 8555049
Conductor: Norman Scribner
Number of Discs: 1

Physical Format:

CD
In Stock
$11.99
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 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
Works on This Recording
1. Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: no 12, Brich an, du schönes Morgenlicht by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor: Norman Scribner
Period: Baroque
Written: 1734-1735 ; Leipzig, Germany
2. In dulci jubilo by Traditional
Conductor: Norman Scribner
Period: Medieval
Written: 12th Century ; Germany
3. Jesus Christ the Apple Tree by Elisabeth Poston
Conductor: Norman Scribner
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1967 ; England
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
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
6. Vom Himmel hoch, da komm' ich her by Johann Pachelbel
Performer: J. Reilly Lewis (Organ)
Period: Baroque
Written: 1693 ; Germany
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
8. Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1: no 1, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor: Norman Scribner
Period: Baroque
Written: 1725 ; Leipzig, Germany
9. He's got the whole world in His hands by Traditional
Performer: Joseph Holt (Piano), Janice Chandler (Soprano)
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
12. The Babe of Bethlehem by Edmund Walters
Conductor: Norman Scribner
Period: 20th Century
13. Tu scendi dalle stelle by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Conductor: Norman Scribner
Period: Baroque
14. Here we come a-wassailing by Traditional
Conductor: Norman Scribner
15. Kling Glöckchen, klingeling by Traditional
Performer: Dotian Levalier (Harp )
Conductor: Norman Scribner
Orchestra/Ensemble: Washington Choral Arts Society
16. Tomorrow shall be my dancing day, Op. 75 no 2 by John Gardner
Conductor: Norman Scribner
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1965 ; England
17. Hodie Christus natus est, SWV 456 by Heinrich Schütz
Conductor: Norman Scribner
Written: 1640-50 ;
18. Sweet Little Jesus Boy by Robert MacGimsey
Performer: Janice Chandler (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1934 ; USA
19. Chanticleer by Richard Dirksen
Conductor: Norman Scribner
Period: 20th Century
20. Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1: no 6, Wie bin ich doch so herzlich froh by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor: Norman Scribner
Period: Baroque
Written: 1725 ; Leipzig, Germany
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
22. Schlichte Weisen (60), Op. 76: no 52, Maria Wiegenlied by Max Reger
Performer: Janice Chandler (Soprano)
Conductor: Norman Scribner
Period: Romantic
Written: 1903-1912 ; Germany
23. Christus, Op. 97: There Shall a Star by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor: Norman Scribner
Period: Romantic
Written: 1847 ; Germany
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
Customer Reviews