Michael Praetorius Christmas music given exceptional performances

Quick. Name a Michael Praetorius Christmas carol. OK, now name another besides “Lo, How a Rose Er Blooming.” There are several — as this release shows.

Praetorius was a major contributor of music to the early Lutheran church. He published nine volumes of Musae Sioniae, collections of Lutheran chorales.

And amongst this music were chorales for the Advent and Christmas seasons. Included are several melodies best-known through Praetorius. In addition to “Es ist ein Ros enstrpungen” there’s “in Dulci Jubilo.” And there’s “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (How Brightly Shines the Morning Star).

Also included is a setting of the Magnificat. The fledgling Protestant church wanted music with clarity. The words had to be clearly heard by the congregation. Praetorius managed that, while at the same time providing some gorgeous Gabrieli-inspired polyphony.

Marcus Creed directs the SWR Vokalensemble in some beautiful performances. The ensemble has a smooth, blended sound that exudes warmth. This is how I imagine these works would have been sung in one of the larger churches in the early 1600s.

This release isn’t just for early music lovers. I recommend it to anyone who appreciates great choral singing. And also anyone who’s ready for some exceptionally well-written seasonal music

Michael Praetorius: In Dulci Jubilo
Christmas Music from Musae Sioniae
SWR Vokalensemble; Miachel Creed, director
SWR Classics

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