This CD is the result of a rather high class lockdown project by Bavarian soprano Christiane Karg (born 1980). Instead of working for ten weeks, away from home, at New York Metropolitan Opera, at the end of 2020 and the start of 2021, she was able to spend time with her family and to research the fascinating and little-known Christmas music recorded here. This is her second recording for harmonia mundi - in 2020 she recorded Mahler lieder accompanied by Malcolm Martineau and, for a couple of songs, by Gustav Mahler himself via piano rolls.
One classy element here is that this is not just a soprano and piano Christmas song recital with Gerold Huber, but also features the Bavarian Radio Choir conducted by (and with some special arrangements by) Howard Arman. So, for example, the opening Weihnachten by Engelbert Humperdinck, rarely heard, begins with soprano and piano, but Arman's arrangement ends with Karg accompanied by choir and piano.
Listen — Humperdinck, arranged Arman: Weihnachten
(track 1, 2:04-3:02) ℗ 2021 harmonia mundi musique sas :
As one would expect, there is more music from the German tradition here, by Peter Cornelius, Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Richard Strauss and the lesser known Austrian composer Joseph Marx (1882-1964), represented by the harmonically fluid Christbaum.
Listen — Joseph Marx: Christbaum
(track 22, 0:01-0:58) ℗ 2021 harmonia mundi musique sas :
But Christiane Karg also explores the French, Spanish and Italian traditions for unusual repertoire, and there's even Grieg's Julens Vuggesang (The Christmas Tree) and Giv mig ej glansm ej guld, ej prakt by Sibelius, resulting in a very unusual and wide-ranging selection.
Listen — Sibelius: Giv mig ej glansm ej guld, ej prakt
(track 6, 0:00-0:58) ℗ 2021 harmonia mundi musique sas :
In her booklet notes, Karg makes particular mention of three carols by Jules Massenet which seem to have been particularly neglected.
Listen — Jules Massenet: Noël païen
(track 17, 2:21-3:03) ℗ 2021 harmonia mundi musique sas :
There is great clarity and precision in Christiane Karg's voice and sensitive support from Gerold Huber and, here and there, from Howard Arman and the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks. This disc is also hugely educational - except for the famous Three Kings from Persian Lands Afar by Peter Cornelius, I hadn't previously heard any of the songs recorded here.
Copyright © 24 December 2021