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This hour features a new, special CD with early music.

This episode we share two recently released productions with Christmas repertoire from 17th century Germany. They are “Historia Nativitatis – Christmas Oratorio after SWV 435” by Ensemble Polyharmonique, and “Weihnachtshistorie” by Weser-Renaissance Bremen.

Johann Sebastian Bach wasn’t the first German composer to write a Christmas Oratorio. Those type of works were also composed in the 17th century, though they were significantly shorter.

The most famous of those is ‘Historia der freuden- und gnadenreichen Geburt Gottes und Marien Sohnes, Jesu Christi’ by Heinrich Schütz. The main theme is the story of Jesus’ birth as told in the four gospels. It is recited by a tenor and is accompanied by basso continuo.

The story gets interrupted by so called Intermedia that require a larger composition. Because most churches and chapels don’t have enough qualified musicians, Schütz suggested alternatives. One of those is to replace the Intermedia by music from other composers.

Thats is precisely what Ensemble Polyharmonique did. We will be listening to the second part of the so called ‘Historia Nativitatis’.

From ‘Historia Nativitatis’:
Johann Rosenmüller (1619-1684)
1. Sinfonia à 3: largo

Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)
2. Ein Kind ist uns geboren (SWV 384)
3. Historia: Evangelium I (Es begab sich aber zu der selbigen Zeit)

Sethus Calvisius (1556-1615)
4. Joseph, lieber Joseph mein

Heinrich Schütz
5. Historia: Evangelium II (Und es waren Hirten in der selben Gegend)

Andreas Hammerschmidt (1611/12-1675)
6. O ihr lieben Hirten, fürchtet euch nicht

Heinrich Schütz
7. Historia: Evangelium III (Und alsbald waren Engel)
8. Historia: Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe
9. Historia: Evangelium IV (Und da die engel von ihnen gen Himmel fuhren)

Stephan Otto (1603-1656)
10. Lasset uns nun gehen

Heinrich Schütz
11. Historia: Evangelium V (Und sie kamen eilend)

Michael Praetorius (1571/72-1621)
12. Es ist ein Ros entsprungen

Heinrich Schütz
13. Historia: Evangelium VI (Maria aber behielt alle diese Wort)

Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654)
14. Psallite unigenito
Ensemble Polyharmonique conduted by Alexander Schneider
(CD: “Historia Nativitatis – Christmas Oratorio after SWV 435” – CPO 555 432-2, 2021)


The same time Schütz composed his Historia, Tobias Zeutschner composed his oratorium ‘Die Geburth unsers Herrn und Heylandes Jesu Christi’, a work for 18 vocals and instrumental voices. He worked the majority of his life as organist in Brenslau (present-day Wroclaw). This work, along with some of Zeutschner’s other works and some anonymous compositions, was appeared on a CD by the Weser-Renaissance Bremen ensemble, which was released by CPO.

Tobias Zeutschner (1621-1675)
15. Die geburth unsers Herrn und Heylandes Jesu Christi a 18
Weser-Renaissance Bremen Conducted by Manfred Cordes
(CD: “Weihnachtshistorie” – CPO 555 368-2, 2020)

16. Resonet in laudibus
Peter Waldner, regal
(CD: “Charakterklänge – Orgelmusik der Renaissance” – Musikmuseum CD 13052, 2021)

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