The Clemencic Consort's Wie Schön Leuchtet der Morgenstern includes a variety of Baroque works, not all of which were written specifically for Christmas, but which are certainly appropriate for the season. The only piece likely to be familiar to general audiences that has associations with Christmas is the title track by Michael Praetorius, How Brightly Shines the Morning Star. The material is fresh and the music is gently pastoral or celebratory, so the album should have an appeal for listeners looking for music for the Christmas season, but from off the beaten path. The Clemencic Consort on this recording consists of two sopranos, a countertenor, Baroque guitar, two Baroque cellos, and either organ or harpsichord played by René Clemencic himself. The selections are divided between vocal, instrumental, and keyboard pieces so there is considerable timbral variety, and the entire Consort is rarely employed all together, so the textures throughout are light and transparent. Each track offers its own distinctive delights. The solo pieces for guitar or harpsichord are especially charming. Vocal works predominate, either solo or ensemble. Alessandro Grandi's Cantabo Domino has an especially exuberant Alleluia refrain. The sacred songs by Monteverdi have all the grace and inventiveness of his madrigals, even though they are less well-known; Jubilet tota civitas in particular has a wonderful dancing exuberance. The Clemencic Consort offers spontaneous and unmannered but elegant performances that are likely to leave a smile on listeners' faces. The sound is clear and nicely ambient, but a little on the little on the loud side for an ensemble of this scale.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins