For this 2013 Harmonia Mundi release, Hans-Christoph Rademann and the Berlin-based RIAS Kammerchor present a quietly joyful program of sacred Christmas works in a mix of styles, from Renaissance to modern. The a cappella chamber choir, numbering 37 members, has a rich blend of voices that is all the more remarkable for the pure sound of the sections and precise intonation. The choir also sings with clear diction and rhythmic unity, so the German and Latin texts are always intelligible. While the group is at home in music of all periods, it seems to respond with the greatest warmth to the Romantic works of Felix Mendelssohn, Max Bruch, Johannes Brahms, Anton Bruckner, and Edvard Grieg, and also to show a deep affinity for the Renaissance music of Johannes Eccard and Michael Praetorius. The only selection that is not fully convincing is the austere Magnificat of Arvo Pärt, which seems chillier than the other pieces because of its plangent dissonances and stark harmonies, and it doesn’t fit well with the group’s characteristic sound.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
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