Christmas Stocking Stuffers

To listen to this show, you must first LOG IN. If you have already logged in, but you are still seeing this message, please SUBSCRIBE or UPGRADE your subscriber level today.

Program: #17-49   Air Date: Nov 25, 2017

Our occasional look at new releases for the season ahead.

I. Nowell Sing we!—Advent and Christmas at New College (Choir of New College, Oxford/Robert Quinney). Novum CD NCR1390.


This recording follows the trajectory of the last weeks of Michaelmas term at New College. On Advent Sunday (at the very end of November or just into December), the chapel is packed with members of college, alumni, families and visitors, for the annual Advent service. Over the following week we move at high speed – we haven’t the luxury of four weeks of Advent to explore its rich themes in much detail – and arrive in the second week of December, more-or-less in the season of Christmas. This artificial compression of proper liturgical time makes sense within the life and community of an Oxford college, since by the third week of December, almost all the students have gone down, and the fellows are deep into interviews and meetings for the admission of next year’s students. And, in any case, out in the ‘real world’ the Christmas decorations have been twinkling for weeks already…


arr. Robert Quinney
1 O come, O come Emmanuel

Andreas Hammerschmidt
2 Machet die Tore weit

Basque arr. Pettman
3 The angel Gabriel

Francisco Guerrero
4 Ave virgo sanctissima

arr. Gauntlett & Mann
5 Once in royal David's city

Francis Pott
6 Balulalow

Michael Praetorius
7 In dulci jubilo

Charles Ives
8 A Christmas Carol

arr. Vaughan Williams
9 O little town of Bethlehem

William Mathias
10 A babe Is born

arr. David Willcocks
11 O come, all ye faithful

Peter Warlock
12 Bethlehem Down

Tomás Luis de Victoria
13 O magnum mysterium

Richard Rodney Bennett
14 In the bleak midwinter

Basque arr. Robert Quinney
15 Sing lullaby

arr. David Willcocks
16 Of the Father's heart begotten

Matthew Martin
17 Nowell sing we


II. Back before Bach: Musical Journeys (Piffaro). Navona Records CDNV6106.


BACK BEFORE BACH, the latest Navona Records release from the Philadelphia-based ‘Renaissance band’ Piffaro, is an exceptional compendium of sixteenth and early seventeenth century German and Franco-Flemish music. As the album’s title suggests, the group of composers Piffaro features can be seen as the precedent for the luminaries of the German baroque era, specifically Johann Sebastian Bach. With BACK BEFORE BACH simultaneously drawing from a wide variety of genres, yet also focusing on a geographically and temporally limited group of composers, Piffaro succeeds wildly in presenting the musical foundation from which Bach and his contemporaries emerged.

Piffaro specializes in historical performance, and they bring a multidimensional approach to the works on this album. First, Piffaro showcases at least a half dozen different types of Renaissance-era instruments on BACK BEFORE BACH, from shawms and dulcians (early oboes and bassoons), to sackbuts (ancestors of the modern trombone), as well as recorders, krumhorns and bagpipes. Second, each set of pieces is arranged differently, sometimes homogenously but more often heterogeneously, featuring a mixture of the instruments described above. This flexible instrumentation is representative of consort-style performance, which defined instrumental music in the sixteenth century.

This is one way BACK BEFORE BACH is a persuasive time capsule; the other lies in the album’s programming, which illustrates many of the important trends in the era’s sacred and secular music. Consider the album’s dance pieces, for instance, especially Michael Praetorius’ “Volta.” Piffaro’s performance transports us to a noble court and through its driving rhythms and percussion accompaniment beckons us to dance. It is also particularly noteworthy that Piffaro includes a set of German popular songs on the album. Vernacular music from this period was rarely written down and, as a result, tends, unfairly, to be lost to history. The inclusion of these popular tunes is a rare and special treat for those who listen to BACK BEFORE BACH and adds valuable detail to Piffaro’s depiction of the musical world of sixteenth century Germany.

The works that most clearly demonstrate the lineage of German music leading up to Bach are the settings of Christ ist erstanden by seven different composers, including Bach himself. Curated brilliantly, these pieces clearly exemplify the evolution of European composers’ approach to harmony during the transition from the Renaissance era to the Baroque. Along these lines, the earliest of these works feature harmony as an important, yet incidental consequence of thick, contrapuntal webs, while – once we get to Praetorious and Bach – the central thematic material is treated with less rhythmic independence, resulting in a generally clearer, more vertically organized musical construction.


1 Setting à 3 --Anonymous, Glogauer Liederbuch (ca. 1480)

2 Setting à 4--Heinrich Isaac (1450-1515)

3 Setting à 5--Heinrich Finck (ca.1445 – 1527)

4 Setting à 5--Stephen Mahu (ca.1490 – ca.1591)

5 Setting à 3 “auf Bergreihenweis”--Johann Walther (1527-1578)

6 Setting à 4 “ad aequales”--Johann Walther

7 Chorale à 4--Michael Praetorius (1571 – 1621)

8 Chorale to BWV 276--Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)

Innsbruck, ich muess dich lassen

9 Instrumental fantasy--Arr. Joan Kimball

10 Canon in tenor--Arr. Robert Wiemken

11 Insprugk ick muss dich lassen--Heinrich Isaac

12 Bruder Conrads Tantzmass & Nachtanz--pub. Paul & Bartholomeus Hessen

A solis ortus/Christum will sollen loben schon

13 Latin Hymn: A solis ortus cardine--Coelius Sedulius (d. 450)

14 A solis ortus cardine--Anonymous (late 15th c.)

15 Motet: Christum wir sollen loben schon--Johann Walther

16 Hymnus: Christum wir sollen loben schon--Johann Walther

17 Chorale: A solis ortus--Michael Praetorius

18 Motet: A solis ortus--Michael Praetorius

19 Canzona: A solis ortus --Samuel Scheidt (1587 – 1684)

20 Chorale: Christum wir sollen loben schon--Johann Sebastian Bach

A Suite of German dances

21 Intrada--Johann Ghro (1575 – 1627)

22 Passameze--Michael Praetorius

23 Allemande--Samuel Scheidt

24 La Volta--Michael Praetorius

The World of Chromaticism

25 Musica, Dei donum optimi --Orlande de Lassus (ca.1532 – 1594)

26 Carmina chromatico: Prologue--Orlande de Lassus

27 Mirabile mysterium--Jakob Handl (1550 – 1591)

28 Sybilla Samia--Orlande de Lassus

29 Da pacem, Domine--Melchior Franck (ca. 1579 – 1639)

A Song from Andernach along the Rhine

30 Melody --Arr. Joan Kimball

31 Tanndernac--Antoine Brumel (ca. 1460 – 1512 or 1513)

32 Tandernaken op den Rijn --Pierre Alamire (ca. 1470 – 1536)

33 T’ander naken--Jakob Obrecht (1450 – 1505)

34 Tandernack--Ludwig Senfl (ca.1486 – ca.1543)

Suite of German Dances

35 Ballet des Aveugles --Arr. Joan Kimball, after Michael Praetorius

36 Padouana--Johann Hermann Schein (1586 – 1630)

37 La Rosette--Michael Praetorius

38 Bransle Simple--Michael Praetorius


III. To Bethlehem: Carols and Motets for Christmas (Kantorei of Kansas City/Chris Munce). Resonus CD RES10175.

To Bethlehem: Carols & Motets for Christmas

Missouri-based choir Kantorei of Kansas City and their director Chris Munce return to Resonus Classics with a sparkling and sophisticated recording of carols and motets for Christmas entitled To Bethlehem.

With a compelling programme of Renaissance and contemporary works for the festive season, this impressive chamber choir presents and reflects on the Christmas story through the journey to Bethlehem, including a number of world premiere recordings. Kantorei explores rarely heard works by Renaissance composers such as Giovanni Bassano, Melchior Vulpius, Jakob Reiner and Blasius Ammon combined with contemporary composers including Matthew Culloton, Ivo Antognini, R. Douglas Helvering and Kim André Arnesen among others.


David Basden: Alleluia! O virga mediatrix 2:19

2 Jocelyn Hagen: O come, O come Emmanuel 5:02

3 Melchior Vulpius: Ascendit Joseph a Galilaea 5:15

4 Claudio Merulo: Spiritus Sanctus in te 3:06

5 R. Douglas Helvering: Ave Maria 4:11

6 Jakob Reiner: Hodie Christus natus est 2:41

7 Matthew Culloton: Angels we have heard on high 3:00

8 Matthew Culloton: In dulci jubilo 3:21

9 Giovanni Bassano: Angelus ad pastores ait 2:57

10 Blasius Ammon: Parvulus filius 2:41

11 Blasius Ammon: Magi videntes stellam 3:05

12 Ivo Antognini: O magnum mysterium 2:38

13 Matthew Culloton: Still, still, still 3:42

14 Blasius Ammon: Grates nunc omnes 2:49

15 R. Douglas Helvering: All my heart again rejoices 4:57

16 Ivo Antognini: Silent night 3:55

17 Kim André Arnesen: Dormi Jesu 5:42


Composer Info

Robert Quinney, Andreas Hammerschmidt, Pettman, Francisco Guerrero, Gauntlett & Mann, Francis Pott, Michael Praetorius, Charles Ives, Vaughan Williams, William Mathias, David Willcocks, Peter Warlock, Tomás Luis de Victoria, Richard Rodney Bennett, Matthew Martin, Heinrich Isaac (1450-1515), Heinrich Finck (ca.1445 – 1527), Stephen Mahu (ca.1490 – ca.1591), Johann Walther (1527-1578), Michael Praetorius (1571 – 1621), Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750), Joan Kimball, Robert Wiemken, Paul & Bartholomeus Hessen, Coelius Sedulius (d. 450), Samuel Scheidt (1587 – 1684), Johann Ghro (1575 – 1627), Orlande de Lassus (ca.1532 – 1594), Jakob Handl (1550 – 1591), Melchior Franck (ca. 1579 – 1639), Antoine Brumel (ca. 1460 – 1512 or 1513), Pierre Alamire (ca. 1470 – 1536), Jakob Obrecht (1450 – 1505), Ludwig Senfl (ca.1486 – ca.1543), Johann Hermann Schein (1586 – 1630), David Basden, Jocelyn Hagen, Melchior Vulpius, Claudio Merulo, R. Douglas Helvering, Jakob Reiner, Matthew Culloton, Giovanni Bassano, Blasius Ammon, Ivo Antognini, Kim André Arnesen

CD Info

CD NCR1390, CDNV6106, CD RES10175.