Amazon.com This exhilarating disc is arguably the most important record Paul McCreesh has made. Praetorius, the first great composer of Lutheran church music, wrote countless pieces based on popular Lutheran chorale tunes, ranging from simple harmonizations to flamboyant fantasias for multiple choirs with instruments. He also provided detailed instructions regarding various performance options--including ways to involve the congregation. Here, for the first time, McCreesh puts these instructions into practice, reconstructing an extravagant Christmas service. We hear elaborately scored Mass movements, simple harmonizations, the Creed (with Luther's own music), lusty congregational singing, and spirited organ improvisations. Many of the Christmas chorales Praetorius used are still well-known today, including Wachet auf (Sleepers wake) and In dulci jubilo, which gets a magnificent setting with trumpet-and-drum fanfares. --Matthew Westphal
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