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Monday, November 30, 2015

Jan Jirasek, Czech and Moravian Christmas Carols, JITRO Czech Children's Chorus, Jiri Skopal

Today's post looks at an unusual volume, at least for those of us who live outside the region this music hails from. I speak of Jan Jirasek's arrangements of Czech and Moravian Christmas Carols (Navona 6010). The performances center around the JITRO Czech Children's Chorus with instrumental accompaniment, directed by Jiri Skopal. They are a spirited and sonorous outfit, well suited to the fare at hand.

These are a fine selection of what I gather are traditional carols from the region, arranged for chorus and chamber orchestra in a folk-early music style. I must say that I do not recognize any of these, which is exactly fine with me, as I am the sort who tires of the standard fare and am happiest when I can appreciate and discover other traditions outside what I am likely to hear involuntarily on television, radio or in the malls here in the US. So I do tend to explore more from the early periods in the US and Europe, or things that are new.

If you are of Czech-Moravian descent you may know at least some of these, and so you will respond for different reasons at least initially. For the rest of us this is a veritable "Festivus" of unfamiliar music, at once folk-like, early-music drenched, filled with the patina of age and archaicisms in the best senses.

The performances have enthusiasm and finesse in equal proportions. Jirasek's arrangements have much to recommended them--and combined with the choir's exacting zeal make for an irresistible program.

If you look for something different for your holiday season, this one most certainly qualifies and does so with a genuine flair. I recommend this strongly for those who seek to rejuvenate the around-home repertoire this year. But then of course it can be portable too!

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