Music for the Christmas season by Buxtehude and friends
Theatre of Voices, Paul Hillier
[dropcap]I[/dropcap] am surprised that I have not encountered a programme like this before; it narrates the Christmas story using musical settings of familiar texts by Buxtehude and other north-German composers. For me personally, the inclusion of two pieces by Christian Geist is a bonus. As well as the opening Praeludium by Scheidemann, each of the four sections of the story ends with organ music, finely played on both chamber and church organs by the inimitable Allan Rasmussen. The vocal repertoire ranges from solo voice with strings (Geist, Tunder and Weckmann) to Johann Christoph Bach’s eight-part motet, Merk auf, mein Herz. Throughout the singing and playing is beautiful, nicely paced, and impeccably captured in a bright acoustic. This is not the first time this repertoire has been recorded, but having a story-telling structure is a novel approach, and this could be the ideal soundtrack to last-minute present wrapping! I know I have enjoyed it.