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Praetorious: Christmas Vespers

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Album Review

For this 2012 AVIE release, Jeannette Sorrell and Cleveland's early music ensemble Apollo's Fire join forces with Sylvain Bergeron and Montreal's La Nef to present a festive program of late Medieval Christmas music from Celtic traditions, drawing largely on Scottish and Irish sources. Dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries and featuring texts in Latin, Gaelic, and English, the varied selections on Sacrum Mysterium provide strong cultural interest and a wide emotional range to satisfy fans of historical music and authentic practices, as well as casual listeners. The serene chants, rollicking jigs, solemn hymns, and joyous carols reveal the mixture of devout piety and secular revelry that typified Christmas music in the period, and the performances reflect the wide array of instruments available at the time, including bagpipes, lutes, recorders, viols, Celtic harp, and percussion. Meredith Hall's charismatic singing is a major selling-point because of her expressive depth and sublime vocal control, and the chorus is smooth in delivery and well-balanced with Hall and the instrumental ensemble. The CD is accompanied by a DVD that offers video of performances from the album.

Customer Reviews


This just has to be the best recording of Michael Praetorious' Vespers. The singing is excellent and the playing crystal clear! Really a great performance!. Looking forward to the next recording already!


Formed: 1992 in Cleveland, OH

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Based in Cleveland, Ohio, far from the cities of the historical performance mainstream, Apollo's Fire is an innovative, popular, and critically acclaimed group devoted to repertory from the 17th and 18th centuries (i.e., mostly works from the Baroque and early Classical era). The group consists of about 35 players and often uses guest artists during performance. Of course, the size of the ensemble can vary depending on the work, shrinking to chamber size or swelling to stage-filling proportions for...
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