London Brass: In Dulci Jubilo (CD)

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London Brass: In Dulci Jubilo (CD)
Label: RWC/Rhino Warner Classics

Christmas with London Brass The brilliance of virtuoso brass instruments has been a resonant symbol of Christmas for centuries. Trumpets have long been the epitome of Divine power. In the course of its decades-spanning history, the London Brass ensemble, which performs an incredible range of repertoire from classical through to jazz in formations of five or ten musicians, has frequently turned its attention to Christmas music. Founded in 1985 by members of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble established in the 1950s, it is today one of the world’s foremost brass formations.

The works on this album are from the ensemble’s English homeland, but include excursions to Germany, France, Spain and Poland. Many of the melodies are Christmas evergreens – such as Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen, which owes its popularity to the arrangement by Michael Praetorius, a composer who lived on the cusp of the culturally ambitious Baroque era, when the ceremonial use of brass instruments reached its zenith. This was especially the case in England, as witness the Trumpet Tune by John Stanley.

The composer, who was blinded in childhood, was a close friend of George Frideric Handel, the composer born in Halle who became a naturalised Englishman and who devoted himself in his compositions to the opulent style of music popular at that time in the British Isles. Many of the songs on this album can be traced back a very long way: back for instance to medieval hymns such as Veni, Veni, Emmanuel and Quem pastores laudavere. Another a melody from the 14th century – In dulci jubilo – reveals interesting symbolism: the swaying rhythm depicts the image of the Virgin with baby Jesus. Silent Night, Holy Night is in the same tradition. Although a mere 200 years old, the carol owes its origins to the organist Franz Xaver Gruber and the cu

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