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A Baroque Christmas at Sono Luminus / Felipe Dominguez

A Baroque Christmas at Sono Luminus / Felipe Dominguez

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From the pipe organ at the Sono Luminus studio in Boyce, Virginia, we are pleased to present a fine selection of baroque organ music for the Christmas season. Felipe Dominguez (b. 1983) is a Chilean/American organist, harpsichordist, clavichordist, and musicologist. A graduate of Brigham Young University (B.M. 2010, M.M. 2012), he studied organ and harpsichord with Douglas Bush and Don Cook. He has pursued further postgraduate organ instruction in Europe with Edoardo Belotti, Hans Davidsson, Harald Vogel, and Leon Berben. Mr. Dominguez has performed as a soloist and in ensembles in Chile, Argentina, the United States and Europe.

Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (Oh, Come thou Savior of the Gentiles) is a German chorale normally sung during advent, and is a call for the Lord to come to Earth.

Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming is a well known and beloved traditional chorale on the original harmonization by Michael Praetorius.

The chorale Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, allzugleich, (Praise God, you Christians, All Together) is set in verse 1 with the melody in the soprano and counterpoint in the two lower voices, and in verse 2 with the melody in the pedal and two lines in imitation on top.

Noël cette Journée (Christmas day today) imitates the French musette with a sustained pedal note, a sweet melody and elegant ornaments, painting an image of the French countryside.

Zipoli’s Pastorale also centers on the image of countryside landscape, which was a popular Christmas theme at the time in the spirit of the biblical annunciation to the shepherds.

Michau qui causoit ce grand bruit is a traditional French Noël treated in a very common structure of variations with different character, the first with a royal feel and the second with a courtesan air.

A ricercar is an imitative form that uses a melody as its main source of material for development. In the case of the Ricercare on “Ave Maria Klare”, a hymn for the Virgin Mary is used as the main source material.

Buxtehude’s Fantasia on “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (How brightly Shines the Morning Star) is one of his greatest masterpieces. He uses small phrases of the chorale melody to develop contrasting sections full of color, energy, and beauty, which also provide an opportunity to highlight the wonderful colors of the organ.

Louis-Claude Daquin wrote a large collection of Noëls and his own performances were legendary in 18th Century Paris. His Noël variations normally present the melody first, followed by variations, at times very virtuosic as it is in this case.

Selections from the Oratorio “The Messiah” by Handel have long been a staple of the Christmas repertoire. This version of the pifa transcribed for the organ is highly ornamented and with its triple meter and dance character intends to take the listener back to the annunciation to the shepherds.

Böhm’s setting of “From Heaven Above,” a popular Christmas chorale, sets the melody as a solo, largely unornamented so it is easy to recognize, against a contrapuntal backdrop.

Voluntary V, Op. 6, by John Stanley though not a Christmas piece has all the hallmarks of a royal entrance. It begins with a contrapuntal section similar to a string ensemble, followed by a virtuosic trumpet solo (Oboe 8’).

This second setting of “From Heaven Above,” by Pachelbel is much different than the previous one, the melody being in the pedal with a Principal 8’ against Koppel Flute 4‘ and Quint 1 1/3‘ in the Swell that dance in counterpoint above the melody.

This 18th Century setting of a pastorale by Bernardo Pasquini is much more elaborated, making more use of counterpoint and varied harmonies throughout the piece. However, it stays true to the countryside character of pastorals.

In Sweet Rejoicing! (In Dulci Jubilo) Is a popular upbeat Christmas hymn. The first 16th Century version from the Fridolin Sichers Tablature is highly imitative, with phrases overlapping over each other very actively. The second version by J.S. Bach, written in his youth, is a highly ornamented version of the hymn that works in scales and arpeggios with a majestic end only as Bach can deliver.

REVIEW:

What distinguishes this release (other than the fine playing and sound) is the inviting combination of a few absolute Christmas classics with a treasure trove of lesser-known but vibrantly lively period works. In the end we get a good listen to the newly installed Sono Luminus organ, which sounds just right. And then the program scores big to my ears with a wide-ranging, musically ravishing collection of Baroque gems for the season. Highly recommended.

-- Gapplegate Classical Modern Music Review

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Sono Luminus
    • UPC/Barcode: 053479226020
    • Item Number: DSL-92260