This release presents Christmas cantatas from three German Baroque masters: Dieterich Buxtehude, Georg Philipp Telemann, and Johann Sebastian Bach. All three wrote cantatas for each Sunday of the Liturgical calendar.
Buxtehude was of the generation before Telemann and Bach and was a model to the younger composers. His cantata Das neugeborne Kindelein opens the program. It’s a short, joyous work that’s actually a choral cantata. All four voices sing continually throughout.
His setting of In dulci Jubilo closes the album. While the overall shape of the melody is familiar, it’s rhythms are somewhat different than the modern version.
Telemann’s 1720 Missa sopra “Ein Kindelein so löbelich” uses the tune as a cantus firmus. Over this foundation Telemann weaves four-part counterpoint that pays homage to Palestrina and other late-Renaissance masters.
His other cantata, O Jesu Christ, Dein Kripplein ist mein Paradie was written 18 years later. Here the form follows the then-standard alternation between solo aria and chorale.
That’s also true of Bach’s Ich freue mich in dir, which is at the center of the program. The difference is style. Telemann’s late cantata is written in more of an Italian style, and has a lightness to it.
Bach’s cantata, though only using four singers, seems weightier. The harmonies sound thicker, and of course, the counterpoint more complex.
La Petite Bande and Sigiswald Kuijken are past masters of this repertoire. They adjust their performances to match the composers’ style, further highlighting the differences between the three.
If you’re looking for a great example of German Baroque Christmas music, I strongly recommend “Das neugeborne Kindelein.”
Das neugeborne Kindelein
La Petite Bande
Sigiswald Kujken, director
Accent ACC 24348