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Praetorius: Christmas Mass

Saturday December 21st 2019
1h25 without intermission


Les Pages et les Chantres du Centre de musique baroque de Versailles (conducted by Olivier Schneebeli)
Gabrieli Consort & Players
Paul McCreesh Musical conductor


For the faithfuls’ greatest joy, here is a festive Christmas Mass, as could be heard in a large Lutheran church of North Germany around 1620.

Michael Praetorius, active from 1590 to 1621, was the most fertile German composer of his generation. At the beginning of the 17th century, he created exceptional music, which became prevalent in all North Germany, because of its very modern style and melodies very inspired by Italian models. The music for this Mass for Christmas Morning is based on Lutheran tradition, where the assembly take an active part in the musical ceremony, notably for the grand chorales, directly taken from Luther’s corpus. The music is also cleverly designed to enable children’s choirs and amateur ones to take part in the interpretation of the score, to create an extraordinary musical communion.

With alternating monumental and spectacular pieces and Italian arias for soloists, Praetorius sets the texts – German or Latin depending on their destination – within a very rich instrumental composition. He also recommends to place the interpreters in different positions, so that the assembly (and audience) feel at the heart of this very brilliant liturgy, often interspersed with dance rhythms, of which Praetorius composed dozens! For a commission for Versailles, Paul McCreesh is reworking this Christmette, which he reconstructed in 1994 with his valiant Gabrieli Consort and Players (a legendary recording!), and is joined by the Pages et Chantres du CMBV (Pages and cantors of the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles) to give this composition the festive and popular dimension that makes it a remarkable fresco.


Michael Praetorius (1571–1621)
Christmas Mass

This programme has been recorded for the recording label Château de Versailles Spectacles → Buy the DVD here

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Video: DVD Christmas Mass of Praetorius - Record label Château de Versailles Spectacles

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