Christmas Goes Baroque 2 (Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia/ Peter Breiner) (Naxos: 8.550670)
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CHRISTMAS GOES BAROQUE II
In Christmas Goes Baroque II the Slovak musician Peter Breiner has madeagain witty arrangements of popular Christmas music in the style of majorBaroque composers flourishing in the first part of the eighteenth century,among whom Johann Sebastian Bach, Handel and Vivaldi are pre-eminent. Echoes of Bach dominate \The Virgin MaryHad A Baby Boy, with more than a touch of a BrandenburgConcerto for "Away in a Manger". The famous Air on the G String, theAir from a Bach Orchestral Suite,is blended miraculously with "A White Christmas", while "Carol of the Bells"give scope for some busy fugal writing. "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing",provides a stately chorale and "Deck the Halls" brings recognisablereminiscences of Vivaldi, before launching into a fugue. "Come, O Come,Emmanuel" opens in the manner of a Corelli slow movement, leading to a passageof thicker texture and flute variants of the theme. Cheerful percussion starts"Angels We Have Heard On High", moving forward into a Brandenburg Concerto, to which the carolprovides a countermelody. Breiner introduces "What Child Is This" with theharpsichord, the essential instrument of Baroque music, followed by a repeatednote that seems about to introduce the slow movement of the first of the Four Seasons, before the intrusion of thefamiliar "Greensleeves" melody. Bach introduces the "Carol of the Birds", and"While Shepherds Watched", after a more literal opening, has all the featuresof a Baroque overture, with stately opening and subsequent fugue. A brilliantsolo violin obbligato marks the arrangement of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town",and percussion again introduces "How Far Is It To Bethlehem", which manages adisplay of fine Baroque performance from a number of soloists, including thehard-working clarino trumpet-player. The set ends as it began, with "The VirginMary Had A Baby Boy", dignified by the style of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia
The Hungarian Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia wasformed in 1992 from membersof the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra by Ibolya Toth, of the Hungarian PhoenixStudio. The Sinfonia has among its musicians the principal wind-players of theSymphony Orchestra, many of whom have already recorded concertos for Naxos. Theconductor of the Sinfonia is the flautist Bela Drahos.
Peter Breiner started piano lessons at the age of four, and went on tostudy at Bratislava Conservatory and at the Prague College of Music and Drama,concentrating at the latter in composition. In 1981, having completed hisstudies, he began work as musical supervisor in the Czecho-Slovak Radio inBratislava and for OPUS Record sand Publishing.
Hehashadavariedcareer, involving the direction of the Czecho-SlovakRadio Children's Choir, playing jazz on the piano and working as an orchestralconductor and arranger.