Gabrieli Consort And Players - Praetorius: Lutheran Mass For Christmas Morning

Friday 1st December 1995
Gabrieli Consort And Players - Praetorius: Lutheran Mass For Christmas Morning

STYLE: Choral
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
LABEL: Deutsche Grammophone 4302502

Reviewed by John Irvine

Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) was the most influential and prolific German composer of his day, producing a vast body of sacred music which was to form the basic repertoire for Protestant churches in Northern Germany in the early 17th century. This recording is a reconstruction by maestro Paul McCreesh of a typical Lutheran Christmas Day Mass as it might have been celebrated in 1620, the year before Praetorius' death. The selection of music by Praetorius and other composers is typical of the style of Lutheran worship at the time and reflects the likely inclusion of many groups of singers and musicians of varying degrees of ability in the Christmas celebration. We have professional singers and musicians, a brass group, a choir of school children, cathedral organists and a body of amateur singers playing the part of the congregation; in fact, all that appears to be missing is the minister's hour long sermon! The variety of arrangements available from such a diverse group of sources is quite stunning and a real treat for the ears. The passion with which the massed choirs tackle the hymns and carols ("In Dulci Jublio" is featured) is quite breathtaking and a marvellous testament to the faith of Praetorius and the Lutheran congregations for whom he wrote. The practice of following Praetorius' recommendations for placing musicians in every part of the church to provide a full sound-around experience for the congregation (perhaps superior even to the DTS experience at your local cinema?) is beautifully captured on disc as the result of some quite superlative mixing and engineering which is quite outstanding even by the very high standards we have come to expect. Miles better than anything else you are liable to experience on Christmas Day, and a purchase you will never regret.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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