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Schnittpunktvokal / Kvartet VITA: Weihnacht in Osterreich - A Cappella

C. Michael Bailey By

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Crow pie is best eaten warm just so one might get it over with. In my recent holiday article, It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year , I claimed that Schnittpunktvokal's cpo collection of Austrian carols was the best holiday release of the year. It was my recent good fortune to receive an email from one Herr Peter Paumgarten informing me that the disc I reviewed, A Cappella Christmas—Traditional Christmas Carols from Southern Austria was actually recorded two years ago and that his group, Schnittpunktvokal, had a new Christmas recording made this the Slovenian female quartet Kvartet VITA. Herr Paumgarten promised to send me a copy of the recording—a promise he kept.

Weihnacht in Osterreich ( Christmas in Austria ) is a collection of Austrian, Slovenian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, and other Eastern carols performed equally by the two groups, with the two collaborating on a pair of tunes, "Vom Himmel Hoch, Da Komm Ich Her" and a reprise of the male-sung disc opener, "Stille Nacht." Well-performed a cappella music is of uncommon beauty. Like instrumental music, the smaller the ensemble, the more intimate and elemental the music. The vocal quartet offers a perfect format to illustrate the role of each of the vocal pitches. With uber -precision, schnittpunktvokal dispatches 600 years of Germano-Austrian carols. Included is Michael Praetorius' "Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen," in the most perfect presentation since Chanticleer's stunning We Sing Christmas .

Whether masculine of feminine, this is quietly beautiful music that recalls a grandeur and warmth suitable for warming Keats' "Eve of St. Agnes":

St. Agnes' Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,
Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death,
Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith.


Weilnacht in Osterreich - A Cappella is a superb holiday offering. This is music of rare invention and awe. For those of us who are tired of the same old holiday fare, a disc like this is like a drink of warm brandy on Christmas Eve. Seek out this hard-to-find disc and you will never be disappointed.


Track Listing: Stille Nacht; Dopolnjen Je Obliube Cas; Maria Durch Ein Dornwald Ging; Vom Himmel Hoch, Da Komm Ich Her; Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen; Zdaj Razsvetijena Noc; Es Bluhn Drei Rosen Auf Einem Zweig; Verkundigslied; Gegrusst Seist Du, Maria; See Und Blick Sind Zugefroren; Wartn Tua Ma; Ubar Die Staplan; Tiho Lucka Gori; Der Langenwanger; Geh, Hansi Pack Dei Binggei; Ihr Hirten Auf Und, Losts Nar All; Viertasuend Jahr Verflossen Sind; Gute Nacht, O Schonstes Jesulein; Kommt Her Geschwind; Geisliches Wiegenlied; Ich Komm Her Zu Deiner Krippen; Heilge Hacht; Prisla Je Keoa Sveta Noc; Wei Schon Leuchtet Morgenstern; Stille Nacht.

Personnel: Peter Paumgarten-Countertenor; Christian Paumgarten-Tenor; Michael Paumgarten-Tenor; Josef Wagner-Bass-Baritone; Nin Salamon-Soprano; Darja Cremoznik-Mezzo Soprano; Stanka Cremoznik-Contralto; Breda Bider-Contralto.

Title: Weihnacht in Osterreich - A Cappella | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Gramola Records

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