"As it might have been celebrated at the Court of Dresden c. 1664." The subtitle of this recording is the key: there's no Schütz work called 'Christmas Vespers,' but by combining research in church archives with what is known of service music in Schütz' time, a Vespers service for Christmas can be reconstructed. Paul McCreesh is becoming somewhat of a specialist in such projects.
Christmas Vespers in 17th-century Dresden, where Schütz was the senior Kapellmeister, would have been a musically elaborate culmination to a day already full of celebration and church-going. The eighty minutes of music here, while a substantial portion of the service, aren't actually the complete Vespers service (the sermon is omitted). What is here, however, is a disc chock-full of Christmas Schütz sung in a cathedral. The church acoustic gives the disc a sense of occasion; there are even two congregational hymns included, recorded from a different perspective than the choral portions of the service, giving an even greater sense of this being a recording of a church service rather than a studio recording. The effect of the whole is marvelous--Schütz' music is unparalleled and McCreesh and company give it an immensely successful presentation.