Kölner Akademie – Premiere of Brilliant Christmas Cantatas
For more than two thousand years the birth of Christ, the incarnation of God as a child in the manger at Bethlehem, has fascinated and inspired artistic production and reflection. It is precisely in the field of music that thousands of songs and multipart compositions have come down to us attesting to the richness of this body of works and documenting the diversity of artistic expression. Most of these works were composed for liturgical use in the Christian churches. It is a rewarding experience to sift through the repertoire and to edit and record previously unknown works. This year our Christmas CD presents recording premieres of five cantatas: one each by Bach’s contemporaries Christoph Förster (1693-1745) and Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1749) and three by members of the following generation, one by Gottfried August Homilius (1714-85) and two by Johann Heinrich Rolle (1716-85). All the cantatas were composed for use in Lutheran religious services and are based on a similar plan of construction: an extensive opening chorus is followed by recitatives and arias, and a chorale strophe from a church hymn concludes the work. The opening choruses are usually based on short quotations from the Bible, and the festive splendor of the trumpets and timpani forms the dominant tonal element.