In the run-up to Christmas we’ll highlight some albums that will add atmos to the festivities, for those who want something seasonal while avoiding the clichéd regulars.
This collection of baroque bass cantatas is the first: the title means The Lord Is King, so it’s church music rather than specifically, Christmas but it’s got that echoey, timeless quality of religious music.
The CD tracks are drawn from the St John’s Kantorei Archive, established in the small town of Mügeln in Saxony in 1571. As the sleeve notes say, many small churches would attract amateur musicians to play decent quality music in areas where municipal musicians were unaffordable. Music associations formed for the drinking of beer and the singing thereof, “for Christian recreation”.
Obviously the associations had music libraries but few of those archives remain today: Mügeln is one of the few. The cantatas are from the first half of the 18th century and the composers were from Saxony and Thuringia; they are Johann Theodor Roemhildt, Georg Philipp Telemann, Christian Wolff and Liebhold, whose first name is not known.
Klaus Mertens’ baritone defines the album; his singing is crisp and clear and not at all overbearing for those of you who panic at the thought of anything operatic.
Music comes from Accademia Daniel, an ensemble that specialises in performing baroque music. They play oboe, violin, recorder and bassoon, with conductor Shalev Ad-El adding organ and harpsichord. Very pleasant.