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Structurally the Christmas story consists of eight tableaux, or ‘intermedia’, for solo voices and/or chorus with instrumental accompaniment, alternating with sparser continuo recitatives for the tenor Evangelist. Elector Johann Georg II, who commissioned the work, maintained a chapel of some fifty singers and instrumentalists, and Schütz deployed it to full advantage: his score calls for no fewer than twelve voices and a large orchestra of strings (modern violins and violas, as well as members of the older-fashioned viol family), recorders, trumpets, trombones, bassoon (or dulcian) and organ. In keeping with traditional associations, the shepherds are accompanied by ‘pastoral’ recorders, the angel by ethereal violettas (treble viols), King Herod by ‘regal’ trumpets (or cornetts), and the high priests by mellow trombones (or sackbuts). The popular appeal of the Christmas story is enhanced by such artful effects as the repeating two-note bass figure in the angel’s three intermedia, which according to Schütz depicts the ‘rocking of the Christ child’s cradle’.
from notes by Harry Haskell © 2019
|Schütz: The Christmas story & other works|
With its charming tableaux of angels, shepherds and wise men, Schütz’s ‘Christmas story’ is a delight from beginning to end.» More
|Schütz: The Christmas story; Gabrieli (G): Christmas Motets|
‘Ravishing … the sheer beauty of the sound, immeasurably enhanced by a warm, sonorous recording, sweeps us into the narration of the familiar sto ...» More
|Christmas through the ages|
'Other than to assure you that it works for me, need I say more?' (Fanfare, USA)
'If Christmas music is on your agenda–for yourself or for your best friends or most favored family members, this disc['s] original sources should make ...» More