Très: REJOICE ALL THE EARTH: MUSIC OF THE SEASON on private label Print E-mail
Classical Reviews - Early Music
Saturday, 16 October 2010

REJOICE ALL THE EARTH: MUSIC OF THE SEASON Très (period instruments) Private issue (67:22

Music of ANON., BACH, BASSANI, BIBER, DE LALANDE, HAHN, HANDEL, MARAIS, PRAETORIUS and TELEMANN

This is a perfectly delightful potpourri disc of music for the Advent and Christmas seasons. (The booklet makes a nod toward diversity by also claiming to observe Hanukkah, but given that the piece involved is an excerpt from Handel’s Judas Maccabeus , this description is something of a stretch.) Arranged for a Baroque chamber ensemble, the various works—ranging from late Medieval carols to pieces by Bach, Handel, Telemann, and their lesser contemporaries—are performed with obvious affection, commitment, and skill by the members of Très (aka the North Shore Baroque Ensemble), who are all based in New England and centered in Massachusetts. The small-scale intimacy (one suspects the influence here of Joel Cohen and the Boston Camerata) provides a most welcome variation on the usual run of classical Christmas CDs featuring large choral and instrumental ensembles or performances of well-worn chestnuts by operatic star singers.

While several tracks are devoted to purely instrumental selections (Biber, De Lalande, and Marais), the star of the show is mezzo-soprano Deborah Rentz-Moore. Her voice is attractive in timbre (with a bit of a countertenorish sound), possessing body and warmth, excellent intonation and diction, judicious use of vibrato, fine phrasing, and due attention to inflection of the texts. The continuo accompaniment is always discreet and well balanced. Aside from some scratchy-sounding notes during the Marais selections, the string players do themselves and the music justice in their solo and ensemble turns.

The recorded sound is excellent—close up but not over-miked, warm but not overly resonant. Texts are provided in both original languages (English, German, and Italian) and in English translation when needed. My one complaint is with some thoughtlessness in the layout of the booklet and CD tray card. Extensive notes (in minuscule print) are provided about the performers and selections, with elegant work on surrounding and background graphics in rich and attractive colors. However, no lists of tracks or timings is provided. The tray card and back booklet cover divide the contents of the CD into 12 selections, but the disc has 24 tracks, and it is impossible to ascertain from the listings how the tracks are distributed. Thus the Biber “Rosary” Sonata No. 1 and Telemann aria would each appear from the booklet texts to have three tracks, but in fact have only two apiece; the cantata Armonie festive o siano by Bassani has only one number assigned on the tray card and booklet back cover, but has six tracks on the disc. (As this goes to press, I am now advised that complete track information will be provided on the Web site.)

The disc has no label or catalog number; it can be ordered through the group’s Web site, ensembletres.com from This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , or at cdbaby.com/cd/Tres1 (which does list all the tracks). Don’t let the minor blemish deter you from a worthwhile addition to your year-end festal holiday music repertoire. Warmly recommended. James A. Altena


Last Updated ( Sunday, 17 October 2010 )
 
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