Romantic settings from across Europe

What does Christmas sound like among our European neighbours? It was his desire to explore the variety and beauty of unaccompanied Christmas music that inspired Thomas Hengelbrock to undertake this project. Together with his Balthasar Neumann Choir he sets out on a musical tour of Europe designed to celebrate the most beautiful time of the year with songs both raptly reverential and filled with seasonal joy. With Niels Wilhelm Gade and Jórunn Viðar the Choir strikes a note of Nordic sound not normally found in Christmas music. Traditional carol tunes may be heard in the Baroque settings of Heinrich Schütz and Christoph Demantius. And the festive choral writing of German composers responding to the subject of Christmas may be rediscovered not only in simple folksongs but also in Felix Mendelssohn‘s and Anton Bruckner‘s more elaborate compositions. Our Christmas journey culminates in a commissioned work, Hoping It Might Be So, a setting of Thomas Hardy’s poem The Oxen by the British composer Simon Wills. It takes its title from the final line of Hardy’s poem. Its subject is hope. The voices of the Balthasar Neumann Choir are heard unaccompanied. Its members are unique in their ability to combine musical perfection and emotional intensity on the very highest level.


“The Balthasar Neumann Choir under the direction of Thomas Hengelbrock offered an impressive survey of the various traditions of Christmas music. […] The Choir was remarkable for its dramaturgical refinement, its precise articulation and its expressive verve.” BADISCHE NEUESTE NACHRICHTEN

“The Choir sang with crystalline clarity, radiant top notes and a well-grounded bass, performing with a lightness and a flexibility that it would be hard to surpass.” LÜBECKER NACHRICHTEN

“Thomas Hengelbrock needs neither a podium nor a score nor a baton. He communicates his own enthusiasm directly to his musicians. […] Whether etching in the most delicate details or pressing ahead with their well-sprung rhythms, the thirty-five members of the Balthasar Neumann Choir reveal all of their vast experience, their textures lean and translucent, their technique compelling right down to the solo passages in the “Deposuit” and the breathtakingly ebullient choral fugues.” WAZ

“Such a delicate piano, combined with a full, warm tone and a high degree of translucency, are qualities all too rarely heard. The small but excellent choir generally sings unaccompanied, their class emerging in particular from their a cappella artistry.” WESTDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG


Balthasar Neumann Choir
Thomas Hengelbrock


Baden-Baden, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Lübeck, Rendsburg