My Aunt Kat, my Uncle Dave, Richard, and I heard Chanticleer in concert on December 3, 2021. The concert was in the huge and opulent St. Ignatius Loyola church on the Upper East Side, where I've heard many Chanticleer concerts. They started the concert in the dark, processing to the front of the church with candles. Half of the singers were on one side of the church, the other on the other side, and they sang back and forth at each other, sometimes singing together.
The highlight of the opening "O Heiland" set (and the "Es ist ein Ros" set later in the concert) was the way the music was put together. They took music from the 17th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries and stitched them together in an intricate and revelatory way (I've listed the whole program below). I often didn't know when one version of the piece ended and the other began. It was very stimulating.
The Praetorius and Eccard set had a wonderful clarity and sense of forward motion. "Ein Kindlein" featured a virtuosic duet for two of the countertenors, very exciting. This duet was answered by a trio for alto, tenor, and baritone, less showy but more charming.
I fought off tears during "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen," better known to us as "Lo, how a rose e'er blooming." They sang it with such directness and sweetness. The Distler setting was a highlight, the dissonances were so clean and pure.
"Maria Wanders Through the Thorn / What Child Is This?" was arranged by Joseph Jennings, who was director of the group for a while. Clearly he knows what the group does well, it was a wonderful arrangement, perfect for them. "Rose of Roses" had a dark grandeur, different from the rest of the program, a nice change of mood. "Carol of the Bells" was done in a jazzy, somewhat chaotic arrangement, very cool and unexpected.
The Biebl "Ave Maria" is a signature piece of the group. As expected, it was impossibly beautiful, a slice of heaven. I've heard them perform this piece four or five times and will never get tired of hearing it.
The "Deck the Halls" arrangement was fascinating. "I Wonder as I Wander" was lovely and meaningful. "Run Toboggan, Run" was a sweet piece, sung well, but their smiles and gestures were a little cutesie poo for my taste. "Walking on the Air" had some cascading vocal writing, beautifully executed. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was dazzling. The dissonances were so clean and precise you could slice a tomato with them.
The audience was crazy for them so they did an encore, a delicious arrangement of "Christmastime Is Here." A lovely, quiet way to end the evening.
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"Ave, generosa" by Hildegard von Bingen (2th century)
"O Heiland, reiss die Himmel auf" by Hugo Distler (20th cent), Johannes Brahms (19th cent), and Jonathan Woody (21st cent)
"Nun komm der Heiden Heiland" by Michael Praetorius (17th cent)
"Rorate coeli" by Praetorius
"Ein Kindlelin do loebelich" by Praetorius
"Der Tag der ist so freudenreich" by Praetorius and Johnannes Eccard (17th cent)
"Resonet in laudibus" by Eccard
"Psalite, unigenito" by Praetorius
"Es ist ein Ros entsprungen" by Praetorius, Distler, and Woody
"A Spotless Rose" by Herbert Howells (20th cent)
"Maria Wanders Through the Thorn / What Child Is This?" arr by Joseph Jennings (20th cent)
"Rose of Roses" by Fredrik Sixten (21st cent)
"The Elements of the Sun Broke Into Song" by Melissa Dunphy (21st cent)
"Carol of the Bells" arr by Joseph Houbert and Buryl Red (20th cent)
"Ave, spes nostra" by Vicente Lusitano (16th cent)
"Ave Maria" by Franz Biebl (20th cent)
"Caroling, Caroling" by Alfred Burt (20th cent)
"Deck the Hall" arr by Gene Puerling (20th cent)
"I Wonder as I Wander" by John Jacob Niles (20th cent) arr by Tim Keeler (21st cent)
"Run, Toboggan, Run" by Abbie Burt Bennis (21st cent)
"Walking in the Air" by Howard Blake (20th cent) arr by Adam Ward (21st cent)
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane (20th cent) arr by Bill Finegan (21st cent)
Christmas spiritual medley: "Rise Up Shepherd, and Follow," "(Everywhere I Go) Somebody's Talking 'Bout Jesus," and "Go Tell It on the Mountain" arr by Jennings