Christmas in Leipzig traces tradition of excellence

This album is about tradition. It’s a live recording of the Christmas concert held in Thomaskirche, Leipzig – a long-running tradition. It features three cantatas based on the traditional Lutheran chorale, Von Himmel Hoch

The works were composed by three Cantors of Thomaskirche, illustrating the evolution of German choral composition. These were also the three composers who preceded Johnn Sebastian Bach. Each composer building and expanding on the musical traditions he inherited.

And these were long-standing traditions — each of these composers died in their posts, often after decades of service.

Johann Knüpfer was the first composer to bring Leipzig prominence as a musical center.

Johann Schelle performed under Heinrich Schutz as a boy tenor. He took over Thomaskirche when Knüpfer died in 1677.

When Schelle died in 1701, Johann Kuhlau succeeded him. His music is the closest to his successor, Johann Sebastian Bach. Kuhlau’s 1692 Magnificat features extended opening and closing choruses. The recitative/aria form is fully developed.

Peter Groner directs the assembled forces in loving performances of these works. The choruses, echoing through the sanctuary have a grandiose warmth to them. And the audiences are very well-behaved. Christmas is a time of tradition, which makes this concert — and these works — that much better.

Highly recommended.

Vom Himmel houch, da komm ich her
Weihnachtskonzerte aus Leipzig
Schelle, Knüpfer and Kuhnau
Monika Mauch, soprano; Hanna Zumsande, soprano; Franz Vitzthum, alto; Sebastian Hubner, tenor; Ekkehard Abele, bass
Kammerchor der ChristusKirche Karlsruhe; L’arpa festante; Peter Gorner, conductor
Christophorus CHR 77448

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