Christmas celebrations are thought to go all the way back to the formidable feasting of the Vikings at midwinter, when in true Nordic fashion yuletide was ‘toasted in’. The celebration of the birth in Bethlehem is more subdued and spiritual, but it is of a far more recent date. We do not know if the Vikings celebrated yuletide with music, but music at Christmas has been a popular tradition since the Middle Ages. Today, practically all peoples around the world celebrate midwinter with special religious and cultural rituals; the precise times vary, but gifts, decorations, festivities, candles, bells and special Christmas music are apparently always part of this. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Christmas was the busiest time of the year for church composers. The congregation expected to hear new Christmas music in church which often involved instruments, choirs and soloists. Here you'll hear the Concerto Grosso - starting with A. Corellis version becoming template for the composers G.Torelli, A.Vivaldi, F. Manfredini and P. Locatelli following the trend of music concertos for Christmas Celebrations.
The Arts Desk December 2020
It’s beautifully played by Lars Ulrik Mortensen’s Concerto Copenhagen, with telling contributions from lower strings ... These are small-scale performances but the intimacy always works in the music’s favour.