Britten: St. Nicolas (title role)
Jonathan Woody: As though on snow
Bach: Cantata Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen BWV 65
Emmanuel Music, Ryan Turner conductor
Boston Children’s Chorus, Krystal Morin, director
Cambridge Common Voices, Andrew Clark, director
Written for tenor, chorus, orchestra, and audience participation, Britten’s cantata St. Nicolas presents scenes from the vita of the fiery patron saint of sailors and children. (Written for the feast day of St. Nicolas on December 6, it has little to do with our conception of Santa Claus nor even Christmas!) The miracle story “Nicolas and the Pickled Boys” is as affecting as it is implausible.
Originally composed for the combined forces of several boys’ and girls’ schools, it marvelously captures both the innocence and reverence with which the memories of St. Nicolas’ life and deeds are upheld … Theatrical, satisfying, and deeply moving, Britten closes with a message of gracious universality.
Contemporary composer Jonathan Woody’s motet — a world premiere — is a meditation on the baby Jesus as a refugee. It features contemporary sounds juxtaposed with moments of stile antico Renaissance-style polyphony.
Bach’s Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen is an Epiphany cantata recounting the arrival of the wise men at the manger with gifts. It features noble horns, pastoral oboes, and rustic recorders in the opening chorus, and has lovely arias for bass and tenor.