Sing, choirs of angels
Lisa (Our Lady of the Stripes) was very complementary about my recent musical post, and it wasn't even Christmassy. So here are a few rather more seasonal offerings from the weird classical music cupboard:
Weihnachtsmusik isn't just an arrangement of Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen (for 2 violins, cello, piano and harmonium!) The arrangement also works in Stille Nacht, though I suppose you do have to listen out for it. Mostly the piano has it, first at 3:44. A lovely piece anyway.
Now, I have a CD by Anne Sofie von Otter entitled Home For Christmas, on which she sings a wonderful song called Koppången. She sings two versions, one on Swedish and one in English, and I prefer the Swedish one, probably because the English lyrics are quite sentimental (like a lot of Christmas songs, I suppose). No doubt so are the Swedish ones, but I wouldn't know as my Swedish is, er, patchy. The lyrics are by Py Bäckman who was the lyricist for Nordman in their original incarnation. Music and lyrics (in both languages) can be found here (thanks to a fellow fan for the link).
Anyway, I had trouble finding a link for the von Otter recording: I found one of her singing the English version in a different arrangement, but was dissatisfied. and then I found this even more magical version by Helen Sjöholm. Helen works a lot with Benny Andersson (ex-Abba), including taking the lead in the Andersson/Ulvaeus musical Kristina från Duvemåla, and the Swedish-language version of Chess. Here she is:
(And if you follow the lyrics, yes, she sings two verses and repeats the second half of the first. If it bothers you, download the von Otter version from Amazon.)
OK, we've had Austrian and Swedish Christmas music. Here (no embedding) is the quintessentially English King's College Choir singing the equally English Peter Warlock's Bethlehem Down, one of my favourite carols for choirs.
Last weekend I played for a carol concert in which the choir sang this arrangement (no embedding) of Adolphe Adam's O Holy Night (another wonderful carol). We weren't as good (nor as many). What the choirmaster described as the full "Hollywood Bowl" treatment.
And we surely have to finish with the most joyful Christmas music ever written: Nun seid ihr wohl gerochen, the finale from J S Bach's Christmas Oratorio. Who else could use the same chorale tune for one of the saddest pieces of music ever (O Haupt von Blut und Wunden, or Oh Sacred Head Sore Wounded, in the St Matthew Passion) and one of the most cheerful? Not only good theology, great art.
Sometimes it must be great to play the trumpet.
And that performance is from the Frauenkirche in Dresden, which I recently visited. It's the one that was largely destroyed between 13-15 February 1945. It was rebuilt only recently, and they Germans did a good job as you will observe from the video. the picture below shows the largest remaining fragment from 1945 incorporated into the new structure.
What better place to celebrate the new beginning that is Christmas?