COMPOSERS: Anonymous,Christian Erbach,Michael Praetorius,Traditional
WORKS: Christmas music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance
PERFORMER: Pomerium/Alexander Blachly
CATALOGUE NO: 449 819-2
At Christmas, record reviewers sometimes get unwanted presents, like Yuletide at the Court of Harpic the Clean. But neither of these issues falls into that category. The Sony Vivarte box is a marvellous seasonal celebration heard through the works of the too-neglected German composer Michael Praetorius. His polychoral ‘In dulci jubilo’ is magnificent here, and his astonishing variety takes us from the showy, echoing duets of ‘Ach mein Herre’ to the tender reverence of ‘Verleih uns Frieden’.
Just occasionally the singers are overwhelmed by the busy instruments and by the acoustic (as in ‘Gelobt seist du’), but there is a terrific atmosphere to these performances. The Pomerium disc is more subdued in tone. This cool contemplation comes into its own, however, in a work such as Ockeghem’s ‘Alma redemptoris mater’ – the version here comparing favourably with the Clerk’s Group attempt on ASV Gaudeamus. Anthony Pryer