What is a holiday except what you make it? I can recall more than one Christmas Season that virtually or nearly stood or fell on the basis of the music I heard that time of year. I am off to a good beginning this season with something I just got in the mail: A Baroque Christmas at Sono Luminus (Sono Luminus DSL-92260), with Felipe Dominguez at the organ. What distinguishes this one (other than the fine playing and sound) is the inviting combination of a few absolute Christmas classics with a treasure trove of lesser-known but vibrantly lively period works.
So the well-known works seed the totality richly with the Pastoral movement from the Messiah as nicely arranged for organ and so also an arrangement of “Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming” in the Praetorious harmonization. The four work totality gives us a cozy familiarity that prepares us for lesser-known but nicely turned Chorale Preludes by Bach and by Johann Gottfried Walther. From there we experience nicely wrought Baroque Christmas expressions by Jean-Francois Dandrieu, Domenico Zipoli, Johann Kaspar Ferdinand Fischer, Dieterich Buxtehude, Louis-Claude Daquin, Georg Bohm, John Stanley, Johann Pachelbel, and Bernardo Pasquin.
In the end we get a good listen to the newly installed Sono Luminus organ, which sounds just right. And then the program scores big to my ears with a wide-ranging, musically ravishing collection of Baroque gems for the season. Highly recommended.