||JOSEPH HAAS - Christnacht Op. 85 - Cantica nova holzkirchen -
Katrin Wende-Ehmer (Conductor) - 4250702801115 - Released: November 2018 - TYXart TXA18111
If you're looking to hear something different this year in the way of Christmas music, and have had your fill of traditional choral Christmas carols, commercial Christmas pop songs, and don't quite have the ambition to plunge into Handel's Messiah or Bach's Christmas Oratorio, then this new CD is for you. German composer and teacher Joseph Haas (1879-1960) faced the same dilemma when he realized that German Christmas choral music only included "high style" masterpieces like Bach's Oratorio. There was nothing that amateur singers and musicians could easily put together to fill an evening with Christmas cheer. So he took it upon himself to combine Bavarian nativity tunes with instrumental interludes and a Christmas story, all into a Christmas Liederspiel (song-play) with a totally homogenous South German folklore feel to it. It includes an amateur choir, children soloists, a narrator and pipe organ. There's a genuine feeling of "innocent joy" and "childlike wonder" that permeates all of the twenty or so pieces that form the work. The organ sound is generally light and airy, and here and there almost sounds like a barrel-organ, and is played accordingly by Norbert Düchtel. And the narrator, Alex Dorow, always sounds as if he's reciting a fairy tale. And the music never sounds trite or mundane, but rather fresh, original and very well crafted.
Unfortunately, all of the texts for the songs and narration are exclusively in German, and the booklet does not include translations in any other language, so if you don't speak German, it can be difficult to follow the storyline. This production is obviously meant for the German market, but regardless of your nationality or language, the sense of celebration surrounding the nativity of Christ is ever present in the music, and comes across loud and clear in any language. A very fine production indeed that doesn't sound amateurish in any sense of the word.Jean-Yves Duperron - November 2018