Saturday 12 November 2016

7.30 pm
Trinity Methodist Church
Cottingham Road, Hull HU5 2EJ
(at the corner of Newland Avenue)

Concert 1 image

Dresden from the Right Bank of the Elbe below the Augustus Bridge
Painting by Canaletto, c. 1750


Christmas History



As Christmas approaches we offer two well-known works. The first is the Christmas History by Bach’s great predecessor Heinrich Schütz, which was so well received when we performed it a few years ago, that there have been regular requests for us perform it again. It is a work of the composer’s old age and was first performed in Dresden in 1660, when he was 75. All the skill and imagination that a lifetime of experience working in many styles had given him is found here. This miniature oratorio tells the whole of the Christmas story, and each character involved in the events of the first Christmas, shepherds, wise men, the angels, Herod and so on, is given their own unique musical characterisation, which is enhanced by the variety of orchestration chosen as an accompaniment for each individual or group, so providing a rich tapestry of sound which is a delight to the ear. Yet Schütz’s setting maintains throughout a charming innocence, which is one of the delights of the work.

Bach’s great Magnificat, a setting of the Mary’s song of praise when she was told that she had been chosen to give birth to the Christ-child, is one of the masterpieces of the choral repertoire. The first performance of this wonderful setting, with its glorious orchestration, and virtuoso vocal writing was also first performed at Christmastide in Leipzig. It therefore provides an excellent companion to Schütz’s work.