Recorded at Trinity Church, Boston, MA, December 1995
Elektra Nonesuch CD 9 79134-2
Frank Albinder, bass
Roberta Anderson, soprano
Anne Azéma, soprano
Marilyn Boenau, dulcian, recordres, ocarina, shawm, xylophone
Edmund Brownless, tenor, reader
Joel Cohen, lute, bariton
Kenneth Fitch, countertenor
Jane Hershey, bass and tenor viols, recorder
Bruce Lancaster, tenor
Carol Lewis, trevle and bass viols, vielle
Mack Ramsey, sackbut, flute, recorders, lute, pipe & tabor
Fred Raffensperger, countertenor
Tom Coleman, contrabass
David Ripley, bass
Dan Stillman, shawm
Renaissance Christmas: A Memoir
A Renaissance Christmas , first heard circa thirty-six years ago, was the first in a long series of now-annual Camerata holiday productions. At that point the ensemble was known as the Camerata of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and I had been Music Director for only a short time. I remember being told by a museum staff member that we were foolish to plan an early music presentation at that time of year. Nobody would come, she opined.
Fortunately, we moved ahead with the project. The great Dutch musician Frans Brueggen, in residence at Harvard that semester, agreed to read the Bible texts, a motet choir augmented the core ensemble of soloists and instrumentalists, and performances sold out.
WGBH videotaped a Christmas special with Camerata, airing it that year and in several subsequent seasons. The recording Camerata made of this program appeared on Advent tapes and as a Vox/Turnabout LP. This by-now-antiquated master is no longer representative of The Boston Camerata's work. But it seems still to have a semi-undergound life, like many Vox tapes of that period, appearing unauthorized in the 21st century in various guises on shady bargain labels....
This is the oldest Camerata program still in "book" and revived regularly, and our second-most popular production (the first is Medieval Christmas ). It was the seminal event in Boston Camerata's now annual Christmas performances. In its wake came a whole series of themed holiday programs -- Medieval, English, French, German, Baroque, American, and, most recently, A Mediterranean Christmas ; this latter program to be performed on a French tour in late December, immediately following these Renaissance concerts in the northeastern U.S.
Considerably revised and (hopefully) improved, Renaissance Christmas was re-recorded by Nonesuch in 1985, one of only a tiny handful of Camerata programs to have been recorded twice. The program you are hearing this season is substantially similar to that Nonesuch recording. It was last heard live in this area five years ago. Many of the musicians who toured the program in 2002 are re-appearing this season, alongside some welcome newcomers.
As I near the end of my tenure as Camerata's music director, I am delighted that this production is still here to round out my rich and joyful association with a two generations of Camerata musicians and audiences -- and happy as well that programs I originally developed alongside gifted musician colleagues can continue to live and evolve with another talent at the helm, in this case our own, unique Anne Azéma. I look forward to a continued association with the magnificent project that is called The Boston Camerata, and to hearing (and sometimes helping to create) the beautiful music Camerata will be making in seasons to come. Merry Christmas!
Knoxville, November 2007
1. Nowell: Dieus Vous Garde 3:41
2. Gaudete, Gaudete 2:11
3. Reading: Luke l, 18-22
4. Kyrie Eleison 4:35
5. E La Don Don 2:31
6. Two Fantasies On "Une Jeune Fillette" 2:43
7. Une Jeune Fillette 3:08
8. Joseph, Lieber Joseph Mein 1:15
9. Magnificat Quinti Toni 7:06
10. Esprits Divins 2:28
11. Reading: Luke ll, 17-19 0:14
12. Es Ist Ein Ros' Entsprungen 2:43
13. Riu, Riu, Chiu 2:36
14. Wie Schön Leuchter Der Morgenstern 2:19
15. Reading: Luke lll, 4-12 0:49
16. O Vos Omnes 3:26
17. Reading: Luke ll, 20-21 0:10
18. Ungaresca 0:59
19. Nouvelles, Nouvelles 1:28
20. Tau Garçó, La Durundena 1:49
21. Tura Lura Lura Lo Gau Canta 3:17
22. Reading: Luke ll, 3-8 0:30
23. O Magnum Mysterium 2:29
24. Singet Und Klinget, Ihr Kinderlein 4:03
25. Bransle De Poictou / La Bona Novella 2:50
December 10, 1999
A few years ago, while my belongings were in storage, among many, many other things that were stolen, I lost this CD and have been pining away for another copy ever since. Of all the Christmas music available, this is the one I prefer to listen to the most, since for me, it embodies the true spirit of the season, and joy of man at the birth of the Savior. If anyone has ever lived in Europe for any length of time and been exposed to traditional European Christmas music, no matter if it was England, France, Spain, The Netherlands (my European home-away-from-home) or Germany, there is something on this CD to remind you of the earthy, closeness many people there still have to this most wonderful season. It is centuries and worlds removed from the "Ho Ho Ho", credit-card world we know so well in America, and for this reason and so very much more, I can personally recommend this most unique CD and commend those who have crafted it with a full and thankful heart.
October 20, 1999
When people start to talk about Christmas music, this is the music that, for me at least, springs to mind. Something about the authentic sounds and instruments, and about the music itself, from a time before Christmaswas about malls, santas, spending money, and television commercials. The Boston Camerata has a Medieval Christmas recording that is also an excellent companion to this one.
This recording is outstanding!
A music fan from Boston, Massachusetts December 25, 1998
This recording of Rennaissance Christmas carols is outstanding. With music you don't usually hear, it gives Christmas a fuller, sacred meaning while at the same time showing the fun-loving human side of the holiday.