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Peter Schreier singt Weihnachtslieder (Peter Schreier Sings Christmas Songs)
Peter Schreier (tenor)
Thomanerchor Leipzig/Hans Otto
Statskapelle Dresden/Hans-Joachim Rotzsch
No recording details given
BERLIN CLASSICS 0301169BC [42:07]

Here is another mouth-watering Christmas CD from Berlin Classics, to go with the fine Ludwig Güttler / Virtuosi Saxoniae which I reviewed recently. This one is designed in part to celebrate a truly great tenor, Peter Schreier, now in his 84th year. However, a caveat; frustratingly, Berlin Classics have given no details of when and where these recordings were made. Clearly they were all made around the same time, as you can tell from the forces involved as well as the sound and balance of the recording. Schreier’s voice mostly sounds wonderful, with just a few signs of strain here and there – oddly, most notably the first few notes of track 1! I shall keep trying to find more detailed information. (The same applies to the Güttler CD.)

As you can see, all the numbers are quite short, certainly not outstaying their welcome. These are quite simple arrangements, relying on the beauty of the singing and of the melodies themselves to do the trick. And they do indeed do just that! There are a few twiddles in the orchestration, but nothing too elaborate. Most of the arrangements follow a similar pattern, sharing the verses between Schreier and the fresh voices of the Thomanerchor of Leipzig (usually known in English as the St.Thomas Choir of Leipzig). This boys’ choir must be one of the world’s very oldest: it was founded in 1212. They spend most of their time singing Bach, for understandable reasons, but deal with these well-known numbers with great aplomb and fine, natural tone.

This is undoubtedly easy listening, but of a very high quality. The great tunes just tumble out, each one like a welcome visit from an old friend. And there are one or two specialities, such as the penultimate track, Nun sei wilkommen, Herre Christ, which is claimed to be the oldest of all German Christmas carols, dating back to the 11th century.

There is no booklet (at least there was none with my copy), and all the titles are naturally given in German. It would have been helpful to have at least the titles translated; but it is no great impediment to the enjoyment of these attractive versions of traditional favourites.

Gwyn Parry-Jones

Contents
Traditional
O du fröhliche [2:37]
Maria durch ein’ Dornwald ging [1:50]
Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen [2:11]
Valentin SCHUMANN (c.1520- c.1559)
Vom Himmel hoch [2:05]
Traditional
Kommet, ihr Hirten [1:49]
Samuel SCHEIDT (1587-1654)
O Jesulein zart [2:22]
Karl NEUER (1897-1985)
Schlaf wohl, du Himmelsknabe du [2:16]
Traditional
Joseph, lieber Joseph mein [1:32]
Joseph KLUG (1490-1552)
In dulci jubilo [2:51]
Traditional
Herbei, o ihr Gläubichen [2:19]
Franz GRUBER (1787-1863)
Stille Nacht [2:56]
Eduard EBEL (1839-1905)
Leise rieselt der Schnee [1:41]
Traditional
O Tannenbaum [1:19]
Süsser die Glocken nie klingen [2:09]
Auf dem Berge, da wehet der Wind [1:29]
Lieb Nachtigall, wach auf [2:01]
Kindelein zart [2:16]
Still, still, still [1:04]
Nun sei wilkommen, Herre Christ (arr. Carl Hirsch) [2:26]
Peter von BRACHEL
Vom Himmel hoch, o Englein kommt [2:43]

 



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