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Music from Eighteenth Century Prague: Josef Antonin Sehling (1710-56) & Johann Joseph Fux - Christmas in Prague Cathedral / Collegium Marianum

Notes & Reviews:

Precious few countries can boast of a Christmas repertoire as ample and colourful as that possessed by the Czech Republic. The Baroque era imbued the texts of songs with enchanting, tender poetics – with awestruck yet perplexed shepherds enthusing about the beautiful infant Jesus. Later on, a growing number of formally more complex pieces (pastorales) were written, most of them taking the form of arias or duets with instrumental accompaniment. A notable composer in this respect was Josef Antonín Sehling. Although still anchored in the Baroque world, he paved the way for the accession of a new musical style. He studied in Vienna and subsequently worked in Prague as a member of Count Václav Morzin’s renowned orchestra and as second violin at Saint Vitus Cathedral, although standing in as Kapellmeister over the long term (an interesting parallel can be drawn with Zelenka, the “counter-bassist” at the court orchestra in Dresden). Sehling was Kapellmeister of several Prague churches, including the Church of Our Lady under the Chain, where the present world premiere recording was made. The album features pieces intended for the period from Advent to Epiphany. Sehling’s music contains the magic of Michna’s songs yet concurrently opens upon a world familiar from Ryba’s Christmas Mass... Josef Antonín Sehling – Christmas music from the churches of Baroque Prague.


Wonderful, joyous music
This disc comes as a wonderful surprise. As a musicologist, I had never heard the name of Josef Antonin Sehling, but now – pleased to meet you! This CD is a joyous collection of some of his works for Christmas, mostly vocal. Sehling died the same year that Mozart was born, and writes in an early Classical style, similar to Galuppi, Hasse, and Jomelli – but he is no imitator. He has his own style, and writes very melodic and strikingly original music. There’s not a single dull moment on the whole disc. The piece “Dormi Nate”, the longest selection here, is beyond beautiful – it’s a pastorale in a rolling six-eight time, like a lullaby. Many composers wrote instrumental pastorales for Christmas, but Sehling writes his for two soprano voices – achingly beautiful. It’s the highlight of this CD – but that’s not to downgrade the quality of the rest of the music here.
The performers are absolutely perfect. Colllegium Marianum has been performing music from this period on original instruments for about 15 years, and they continue their high standards. All in all, for anyone interested in music from the middle of the 18th century, this is a must have.

Submitted on 12/09/14 by Catriel 
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