The Teares of the Muses, Margaret Panofsky & Kathleen Cantrell | Narození Pána Krista: Christmas Music, 17th-Century Bohemia

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Narození Pána Krista: Christmas Music, 17th-Century Bohemia

by The Teares of the Muses, Margaret Panofsky & Kathleen Cantrell

To experience a Czech baroque Christmas with all the trimmings, The Teares of the Muses, a viol consort directed by Margaret Panofsky with soprano Kathleen Cantrell, organist and percussionist John Cantrell, and GHOSTLIGHT, bring you the rarely heard, almost never recorded music by the marvelous Adam Michna and other Czech composers.
Genre: Classical: Early Music
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Mass IV, Kyrie
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2. Mass IV, Gloria
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3. Mass IV, Credo
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4. Mass IV, Sanctus
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5. Mass IV, Agnus Dei
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6. Sonata from Suite in C Major
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7. Píseň Adventí
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8. Pozdravení Dĕtátka Ježíše
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9. In Dulce Jubilo, A2 A3 A4
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10. Alma Redemptoris Mater
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11. Salve Regina
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12. Suite in A Minor: I. Intrad
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13. Suite in A Minor: II. Allemand
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14. Suite in A Minor: III. Courant
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15. Suite in A Minor: IV. Saraband
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16. Suite in A Minor: V. Ballo
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17. Zvání K Jesličkám Pána Krista
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18. Opĕt Jiná O Narození Pána Krista
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19. Zvání Všeho Stvoření
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20. Adesto Multitudo Coelestis Exercitus
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21. K Ježíškovi Miláčkovi
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22. Magnificat
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23. Kydž Veškeren Svět Byl Popsán
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24. Veselým Hlasem Zpívejme
2:08 $0.99
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25. Spanilé Z Archy Holubičky
2:25 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
“Narození Pána Krista: Christmas Music, 17th-Century Bohemia” is by The Teares of the Muses, a viol consort. Directed by Margaret Panofsky, The Teares is joined by Kathleen Cantrell, soprano, John Cantrell, organist and percussionist, and the GHOSTLIGHT Vocal Quartet. The featured works—most of them recorded here for the first time—are by the marvelous, rarely heard Adam Michna. These include his affecting “Mass IV” (singularly orchestrated for soprano, four bass violas da gamba, and chorus), Latin motets, and Christmas carols sung in Czech with improvisatory instrumental interludes. Other Bohemian composers include Samuel Capricornus, David Funck, Holan Rovenský and Jan Josef Bozan. From the first track to the last, the delightfully varied music offers an early Czech baroque Christmas with all the trimmings.


Narození Pána Krista
Christmas Music, 17th-Century Bohemia

The Teares of the Muses

Margaret Panofsky, director, treble viol and bass viol
Kathleen Cantrell, soprano
Caroline Marris and Christina Brandt-Young, treble viol and bass viol
Jeremy Brandt-Young and Carlene Stober, bass viol
John Cantrell, organ and percussion
Ghostlight: Barbara Zay, soprano; Evelyn Troester, alto; Matt Zay, tenor; Aaron Taylor, bass
Michael Beckerman, artistic advisor


Mass IV Adam Michna z Otradovic (c. 1600 - 1676)
Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei
Kathleen Cantrell, soprano

Sonata from Suite in C Major Johann Michael Nicolai (1629 - 1685)
Preludium, Fantasia, Adagio, Allegro, Adagio

Advent and Christmas Carols Adam Michna
Píseň adventí
Pozadravení Dětátka Ježíše
Kathleen Cantrell, soprano; Margaret Panofsky, treble viol

In dulce jubilo, a2, a3, a4 Michael Praetorius (c. 1571 - 1621)

Alma redemptoris Mater Adam Michna
Salve Regina
Kathleen Cantrell, soprano

Suite in A Minor David Funck (c. 1630 - c. 1690)
Intrad, Allemand, Courant, Saraband, Ballo

Christmas Carols Adam Michna
Zvání k jesličkám Pána Krista
Opět jiná o Narození Pána Krista
Zvání všeho stvoření
Kathleen Cantrell, soprano; Margaret Panofsky, treble viol

Adesto multitudo coelestis exercitus Samuel Capricornus (c. 1628 - 1665)
Kathleen Cantrell, soprano; Margaret Panofsky, treble viol

Christmas Carol: K Ježíškovi Miláčkovi Václav Holan Rovenský (1644 - 1718)
instrumental arrangement and treble viol, Margaret Panofsky

Magnificat Adam Michna
Kathleen Cantrell, soprano

Christmas Carols
Když veškeren svět byl popsán Holan Rovenský
Kathleen Cantrell, soprano; Margaret Panofsky, treble viol

Veselým hlasem zpívejme (instrumental) Jan Josef Bozan (1644 - 1716)
Margaret Panofsky, treble viol; John Cantrell, percussion

Spanilé z Archy Holubičky Holan Rovenský
Kathleen Cantrell, soprano
Margaret Panofsky and Caroline Marris, treble viols


Notes

"Narození Pána Krista" features Adam Václav Michna z Otradovic’s masterful compositions, which are seldom heard today. Adam Michna (c. 1600 - 1676) as he was commonly known, came from an aristocratic family of musicians, many of them trumpeters. His father, an organist, was his first teacher. Michna spent almost his entire life in his home town of Jindřichův Hradec in northern Bohemia, near Prague. He studied at the newly opened Jesuit College and later became the town organist and choir director. In addition to his musical career, the wealthy Michna was also a civic-minded landowner who ran a successful wine business. The elaborate Latin-texted concertato works—"Mass IV," a "Magnificat," "Alma redemptoris Mater," and "Salve Regina"—show marked Italian influence in a completely up-to-date style comparable to music from the most important northern European cultural centers. The simpler homophonic Advent and Christmas carols were intended for churches with limited resources; the lovely melodies with three accompanying parts are set to Michna’s own acclaimed poetry. His successful volumes of much-loved Czech carols for congregational singers helped replace the 15th- and 16th-century devotional tenor-songs, which were becoming somewhat old-fashioned.

Adam Michna’s "Mass IV" from the collection "Sacra et litaniae" of 1654 has unusual orchestration: three bass viols (suggested by Michna ad libitum) and continuo that accompanies the solo soprano voice. The texture created by the viols wraps this ornate line in a rich halo of sound. The more straightforward four-part chorus and continuo alternate with the solo voice and viols, accentuating the writing in concertato. The mass is relatively short, with almost no repetition of the text, but in the Credo especially, it contains contrasting tempos and affects that illustrate the meaning of the words—notably in the mournful "Crucifixus" and the exuberant "Et resurrexit" which bursts out in trumpet calls. For "Et in unam sanctam catholicam et apostolic am Ecclesiam" (And in one holy, catholic and apostolic Church), the trumpet calls resume, making a clamorous announcement of victory in the wake of the Thirty Years War.

Several compositional techniques unify the mass: a short motive of a rising and falling half-step, usually heard in the top viol part, recurs throughout, and the outside movements—the "Kyrie" and "Agnus Dei"—begin with the same melody in the soprano, but with the bass line inverted in the "Agnus Dei." Michna’s choice of instrumentation for this mass makes an exciting addition to sacred baroque repertory for viols.

The five Advent and Christmas carols on the program are from Michna’s "Česká Mariánska Musika" (Czech Music for the Virgin Mary), published in 1647. He composed the simple strophic songs to meet the needs of both (in his own words) “accomplished musicians in noble cities and humble cantors in the smallest towns.” The carols became instant hits that traveled beyond the confines of the church, to be reprinted in later songbooks for the “common people.” Some grew immensely popular as folksongs. The first piece in the first set is an Advent carol, and the four that follow celebrate the birth of Jesus. Michna’s poetry is unusually florid considering the simplicity of the homophonic layout. Margaret Panofsky of The Teares of the Muses follows baroque practice with some interpretive freedom, augmenting the songs with ornamented instrumental verses. John Cantrell adds improvised percussion.

Devotion to the Virgin Mary increased during the 17th century in Catholic lands as Protestant denominations discouraged Marian worship. Adam Michna’s sacred works are permeated with adoration for Mary; he joined two Jesuit fraternities in Jindřichův Hradec that honored her Annunciation. Michna’s two motets—"Alma redemptoris Mater" and "Salve Regina," and the "Magnificat" are from his "Officium Vespertinum" of 1648. Like his "Mass IV," they are written in concertato style with the soprano soloist alternating with the chorus. For this recording, the viols double the chorus to further enhance the contrast. Michna himself suggests this possibility by adding the words "et instruments intercinentibus" (loosely translated, instruments combined with singers) at the end of the collection’s title. Both the "Salve Regina" and the "Magnificat" have identical three-note signature motives that include a descending fifth—except the "Magnificat’s" tune is in a major key, whereas the "Salve Regina" with the words "ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle" (to thee we send our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears) is in the minor.

The miniature sonata that opens the "Suite in C Major" by the German composer Johann Michael Nicolai (1629 - 1685) contains short sections strung together—a prelude, fantasy, adagio, allegro, and concluding adagio. It is a sumptuous work that exploits the rich overtones created by three bass viols. A fourth continuo viol is added for the contrapuntal fantasy and allegro movements in which the viols enter one by one before joining together in rollicking, paired phrases. The unusually low-pitched tessitura is plausibly explained by Nicolai’s profession as a double-bass player in the Stuttgart court orchestra.

Michael Praetorius (c. 1571 - 1621) is the second German composer on the recording, chosen for his contrapuntal arrangements of the immensely popular Christmas song, "In dulce jubilo." The tune with its German/Latin macaronic text was composed by the medieval Dominican mystic Heinrich Seuse—which places the original composition well before the Reformation. The text of these three lovely pieces—performed here by viols alone—is translated somewhat loosely as follows: “In sweet rejoicing, now sing and be glad! Our hearts' joy lies in the manger; and it shines like the sun in the mother's lap. You are the alpha and omega!” A devout Lutheran, the esteemed musician, theorist and organist worked at Wolfenbüttel.

The "Suite in A Minor" by the Bohemian composer David Funck (c. 1630 - c. 1690) is a collection of delicate baroque dances that could have been played at a court ball or banquet. The opening Intrad is oddly constructed; the stately beginning is followed by surprise flurries of sixteenth notes. The dance movements are short and succinct, but with interesting cross-rhythms that add a piquant flavor. The suite is from Funck’s only extant work, the dance collection "Stricturae Viola di Gambicae" of 1677; the orchestration of four viols is antiquated for such late compositions, although the writing style is current. Contemporary biographers depicted Funck as unstable and dissolute, although only one recorded incident bears this out. He was forced to flee from a girls’ school in Upper Franconia where he worked, and was found dead shortly thereafter.

Samuel Capricornus led a short and rather dreary existence that began in Bohemia; his family soon fled to Hungary to escape persecution and the devastation of the Thirty Years War. He held various posts in Germany, eventually attaining the prestigious appointment of Kapellmeister to the Württemberg court at Stuttgart—although his life was made miserable by illness, a bad marriage and professional disagreements. The text of the Christmas ode "Adesto multitudo" from the second part of Capricornus’s "Theatrum Musicum" is in flowery Latin; the piece shows strong Italian influence reminiscent of the music of Carissimi, his idol. The scoring of a treble viol to accompany the soprano soloist is anachronistic, and a decidedly German choice.

Three carols are by the Bohemian composer Vacláv Karel Holan Rovenský (1644 - 1718). One of them, "K Ježíškovi Miláčkovi" (To My Beloved Little Jesus), is played on the treble viol with verse-variations added. Rovenský was born in Rovensko in northern Bohemia, not far from Prague. He was brought up in a Moravian Brethren (Protestant) family, but converted to Catholicism when he attended the Jesuit school in Jičin. He held several posts as an organist and teacher in various towns near his native Rovensko, and made a pilgrimage to Rome. In his later years, this serious man lived as a hermit and became a stonemason. His greatest contribution is the valuable anthology, "Capella regia musicalis," of 1693, which contains a huge variety of secular and sacred music from medieval songs to secular cantatas and pastorales.

"Veselým hlasem zpívejme" (Let Us Sing With Joyous Voices), played instrumentally, is from the eighteenth-century hymnal "Slaviček rajský" by the priest Jan Josef Bozan (1644 - 1716). Although the tune and harmony are simple, the syncopated rhythmic pattern is irresistible.

—Margaret Panofsky

Biographies

The Teares of the Muses, a consort of viols, is a versatile New York University performing arts ensemble directed by the Teares’ first-chair player, Margaret Panofsky. She has been an adjunct professor with the Faculty of Arts and Science Music Department since 1989. Made up of proficient musicians from the student body, faculty, and N.Y.U. community, The Teares of the Muses is part of the Music Department’s Viol Program. The Teares of the Muses performs elegant and lively renaissance and baroque repertory for viols, often adding favorite guest artists to expand the compass of its concerts. It delights in reviving great music which has all but vanished in the present day. Soprano soloist Kathleen Cantrell has performed with the Teares since the consort’s residency began at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in 2007. The Teares of the Muses’ first enthusiastically received concert with Kathleen Cantrell was “Vater unser im Himmelreich." It took place in April 2010, supported by N.Y.U.’s Creative Collaboration Support Grant. Since then, the Teares has made 17th-century German music its speciality, culminating in the production of the CD, "Ein Lämmlein," released on October 12, 2011: “The themes of the recording are complex and interesting, and these singers make repeated listening a real pleasure. The viol consort functions impressively as a single entity, coordinated at repeats and moments of heightened emotion, yet each individual voice is clear. Although passion music is associated with a specific time of the year, the uplifting quality of the music and performance on this CD belongs to a timeless season” "Viola da Gamba Society of America Newsletter." A recording from 2012 of "The Lord’s Prayer, Vater unser im Himmelreich," is available as a digital single. It will appear in a book and CD set: "Notre Père à travers les âges, dans les trois traditions chrétiennes" by Jean-Paul Lécot of Lourdes, France.
www.tearesofthemuses.com

Margaret Panofsky is the Teares of the Muses’ director and adjunct professor with the N.Y.U. Faculty of Arts and Science Music Department. She has been a director and faculty member for numerous early music workshops, and has made guest appearances with many ensembles including the New York Consort of Viols, Le Triomphe de l'Amour, Ensemble Soleil, and Parthenia. She performs frequently as an instrumentalist with the Choir of Corpus Christi Church and St. Michael's Choir. Her comprehensive book, "The New Bass Viol Technique," was published in 2012. She received a B.A. from Stanford and an M.M. from the New England Conservatory.
  
Christina Brandt-Young plays the bass, tenor, and treble viols and has master's degrees in musicology from Northwestern University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. During the day, she is an appellate attorney.
 
Jeremy Brandt-Young plays both bass and tenor viols and holds a Bachelor of Music in classical saxophone from the North Carolina School of the Arts where he studied under James Houlik and James Kalyn. He currently funds his music addiction as Director of Professional Services for a technology security consulting firm.
  
Caroline Marris began studying with Margaret Panofsky in 2010 while an undergraduate at New York University, and plays bass, tenor, and treble viols. She graduated from N.Y.U. with honors in English and History in 2012, and in fall 2013 began a PhD program in Early Modern European history at Columbia University. 
  
Kathleen Cantrell, soprano soloist at St. Michael's Episcopal Church, performs regularly with The Teares of the Muses. She has appeared with Apollo's Fire, the Choral Arts Society of Louisville, the Louisville Bach Society, and several groups in New York. She is also a certified braille music transcriber. She holds an M.A. in Early Music Performance Practices from Case Western Reserve University and a B.M. from the University of Louisville. kathleencantrell.com

Carlene Stober, bass viol, is continuo cellist for Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity and is a member of Empire Viols and the Grenser Trio. She has appeared on Prairie Home Companion and performed with the Utah Shakespearean Festival. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the Rutgers School of Communication and Information, she serves as adjunct music cataloger at New York University.

John Edward Cantrell, organist with the Teares, is comfortable performing in many genres; he is known to his colleagues as a "musician's musician." From Carnegie Hall to rock arenas, Mr. Cantrell has performed as a pianist, organist and multi- instrumentalist throughout the United States, Ireland, England, and Europe. He is organist and choirmaster at St. Michael's Episcopal Church.
johncantrellmusic.com

GHOSTLIGHT is an elite chamber choir that maintains a rigorous schedule of performances, offering a varied repertory of sacred and secular a cappella choral compositions from the 16th to the 21st centuries. Founded in 2010 by artistic director Evelyn Troester, it is made up of sixteen to twenty singers who achieve superior musicality, intonation, and choral blend. Recent performances included the PS1 Benefit at the MoMA, New York, sold-out concerts throughout Germany, world premieres of new compositions, and a live performance with the Rolling Stones at the Barclays and Prudential Centers in New York. Time Out New York called GHOSTLIGHT "first-class," and Maine's "Press Herald" said, "It is simply one of the best vocal ensembles I have heard in a long time."
ghostlightchorus.com 

Michael Beckerman was formerly Chair of the Department of Music at New York University and is Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Music. He is also Distinguished Professor at Lancaster University. He has been writing on Czech topics for the last thirty years, and is author of "New Worlds of Dvořák," "Janáček as Theorist," and "Martinů’s Mysterious Accident." He is a Laureate of the Czech Music Society, a recipient of the Janáček Medal from the Czech Ministry of Culture, and is currently Vice-President of the Dvořák American Heritage Association. He is a passionate and enthusiastic advocate for the music of the Czech Baroque.

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Reviews


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Rich Jacobs

A delightful CD of early Christmas music
A delightful CD of early Christmas music has appeared—too late for this season of giving. But it is not too early to stock up now for next year’s season; this is a wonderful gift for a music lover, good any time of year.

The music is a half-century before J. S. Bach; and it brings to life works from 17th century Bohemia across a range of moods and both courtly and popular forms. An opening Mass and a Sonata, and in the middle a dance-music Suite, are complemented by sweet carols that then alternate with religious pieces, an Alma redemptoris Mater, an Adesto multitudo coelestis exercitus, and a Magnificat. The CD was recorded at the St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, NYC.

Detailed notes explain musical contexts and who the composers were: Adam Vacláv Michna, Johann Michael Nicolai, Michael Praetorius, Samuel Capricornus, Vacláv Karel Rovensky, and David Funck (who wrote “delicate baroque dances that could have been played at a court ball or banquet” but who was—you’d never know it from the music—“unstable and dissolute”; he was “forced to flee from a girls’ school in Upper Franconia where he worked, and was found dead shortly thereafter”).

This is the product of collaboration, between The Teares of the Muses (The New York University Collegium Viol Consort), soprano Kathleen Cantrell, and the Ghostlight Vocal Quartet. Teares of the Muses’s Director Margaret Panofsky played first treble viol and first bass viol, directing from the chair; Collegium musicians are Caroline Marris and Christina Brandt-Young (treble viol and bass viol), Jeremy Brandt-Young and Carlene Stober (bass viol); and John Cantrell (organ and percussion). Panofsky selected the music, provided the notes, and did considerable musicological research to ensure authenticity but also applied some creative interpretation to the carols. Panofsky wrote and performed the treble variations for the various pieces.

The timbre is soft and sweet, but serious and soulful; and richly resonant, from being performed at St. Michael’s. Cantrell's voice is very special, catching just the feeling of the old music, and I like how the Ghostlight Vocal Quartet harmonizes with her sound. The treble viol playing on the first two carols, by Michna, is gorgeous; the treble viol's voice and Cantrell’s voice merge and then play off wonderfully. Same for the three later Michna Christmas Carols. The first of them, "Zvani...," has a perky plucking motif and a sort of cheerfulness. The one next after is nicely cheerful too, yet mellow. The viol playing is sublime, rings out just right; the music between second and third stanzas is a nice little surprise for the listener.

The pieces are all rich and intricate. Across them all, however, what I did not quite hear is "joy"—even in “In Dulce Jubilo,’ which is more “dulce” than “jubilant.” This is not a criticism, it is praise of how true the performance is to the music! Especially Baroque religious music carries forward a medieval attitude about religion: that religion is serious, and life is a prison. Even Christmas music is never just-plain-happy. (Besides, wasn’t the “happy Christmas” idea invented in the nineteenth century?)

The Funck Suite in A Minor feels elemental, as it moves from walking to running and then dancing; and you can hear the intention of it being happy, and the little Ballo ends it sweetly! The Capricornus is a good piece to show off; the CD’s notes say the choice to combine treble viol and soprano is anachronistic, but it works very well in how the singing and viol play off each other; I like this piece a lot. Also the Rovensky arrangement, with the repeated bouncy little same notes, is tonally thoughtful and sweet, and the viol just sings in the slow part near the end. Michna's Magnificat is simple but rich (and it is nice for Cantrell to be able to relax from Czech into Latin); Cantrell and the Ghostlight team are very good together here. The final three carols close the whole in a lively brio, as joyful as it seems possible to make this music be. My favorite is the last—it dances, the viols are singing, the poem is witty as well as sweet, and the composer has caught the somewhat sassy spirit of the words as well as a happy cheerfulness that might, for the end, be called joy!

The wholeness of the performance was accidentally highlighted for me when the CD started re-playing to the start—I thought, wow, the tone of this thing changed! It achieves a progression from the more thoughtful through to the more joyful as the pieces flow.
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Steven Freygood (former Montreal music critic and CBC producer)

A tranquil Bohemian Christmas in a stormy century
Here is a tranquil Bohemian Christmas in a stormy century that even Europeans like to forget; that is what makes the recording so utterly poignant and sweet! It was a brutal century of Brecht’s “Mother Courage” and the dictator Oliver Cromwell, of Luis XIV’s abuse of protestants unequaled until Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust. It was, in short, the darkest of times with only a few shining lights. But isn’t that part of what Christmas is all about? Yes, the CD arrived late for 2013 but this Czech Christmas music is timeless – or for any time you’re feeling the world is too much with you.
“Narození Pána Krista”, especially the Czech carols, is like no Baroque music I know (listen yourself to the samples) and that is a large part of its attraction for me; I am a playwright not a musician. When I heard about the CD it was the 17th century history that brought me to this recording. The Teares of the Muses are an authentic consort that takes me back in time – and the group’s director Margaret Panofsky performs on the treble with an inspiring and sincere mysticism of an era when religious love and hatred were but inches apart. Kathleen Cantrell’s unusual voice has the purity and innocence I associate with boys’ choirs; her vocals are candle-warm in a black and bleak midwinter when dark and snow still ruled all towns and cities.
I suggest you purchase this CD for the reason I have – it is a welcome antidote to the grandiose and saccharine sound of Christmas present.
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Steven Freygood

A tranquil Bohemian Christmas in a stormy century
Here is a tranquil Bohemian Christmas in a stormy century that even Europeans like to forget; that is what makes the recording so utterly poignant and sweet! It was a brutal century of Brecht’s “Mother Courage” and the dictator Oliver Cromwell, of Louis XIV’s abuse of protestants unequaled until Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust. It was, in short, the darkest of times with only a few shining lights. But isn’t that part of what Christmas is all about? Yes, the CD arrived late for 2013 but this Czech Christmas music is timeless – or for any time you’re feeling the world is too much with you.
“Narození Pána Krista”, especially the Czech carols, is like no Baroque music I know (listen yourself to the samples) and that is a large part of its attraction for me; I am a playwright not a musician. When I heard about the CD it was the 17th century history that brought me to this recording. The Teares of the Muses are an authentic consort that takes me back in time – and the group’s director Margaret Panofsky performs on the treble with an inspiring and sincere mysticism of an era when religious love and hatred were but inches apart. Kathleen Cantrell’s unusual voice has the purity and innocence I associate with boys’ choirs; her vocals are candle-warm in a black and bleak midwinter when dark and snow still ruled all towns and cities.
I suggest you purchase this CD for the reason I have – it is a welcome antidote to the grandiose and saccharine sound of Christmas present.
Reviewed by Steven Freygood
Former Montreal music critic and CBC radio producer
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