Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Fine Christmas music from Montreal

The Montreal-based Arion Orchestre Baroque, led by Alexander Weimann provides an authentic 18th century German Christmas celebration in this excellent new disc from ATMA Classique (due November 4, 2016). With a relatively small (26 player) orchestra and five vocal soloists doubling as the choir, you'd expect a small-scale, intimate performance, but there's also plenty of pomp and exultation to go with the quiet, personal story of a young girl and an angel. Here's the scene at the spectacular Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal at Arion's December 5, 2015 concert (from the album booklet; photograph by Jean Guimond). The album was recorded a few days later at  Église Saint-Augustin, Mirabel.

There are two other things special about this recording. The first is the inclusion of the four laudes, Christmas hymns interpolated into an earlier version of the Magnificat that are rarely included in performance or recordings. The second is the marvellous Christmas Day Cantata by Johann Kuhlau, which is really quite beautiful, and which deserves much more attention in people's Christmas playlists. This disc will certainly feature in mine!

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