Rosenmáller: Weinachtshistorie

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Rosenmáller
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Weinachtshistorie
PERFORMER: Cantus Cölln, Concerto Palatino/Konrad Junghänel
Rosenmüller left no ‘Christmas Story’, let’s get that out of the way first – unless you count a seven-minute setting of verses from St Luke. It’s a shame that houses as high-minded as Harmonia Mundi have to sell us ‘stories’. Rosenmüller’s own story, grippingly retold in the booklet by Peter Wollny, is enough: brilliant start, pederasty rap, escape to Italy, glorious homecoming. And unlike other ‘reconstructions’ from bits and bobs, title apart this CD doesn’t even try to be a liturgical whole. So, if you’re hoping for a follow-up to Schütz’s half-hour Yule masterpiece, you’ll be disappointed… Actually, no. Because music and performances are, quite simply, outstanding. After Dresden’s old Kapellmeister praised his young Saxon colleague’s Op. 1, Rosenmüller more than fulfilled that early promise – and no group has made that clearer than Cantus Cölln. From Schütz to Bach, did anyone so successfully marry German religiosity and Italian brilliance? Monteverdi himself would have been proud of Rosenmüller’s stunning Gloria; an older Bach could easily have penned the moving chorale-based ‘Christus ist mein Leben’. The seven-minute ‘Nativity’ is adorable and only recently recovered from Soviet safe-keeping. Exemplary performances – both Cantus Cölln and Concerto Palatino are on spine-tingling form – superb sound… Yes, it’s Christmas! Nick Morgan