Une Cantate de Noel
When Honegger began Une Cantate de Noel in 1941 he couldnt envision the massive oratorio that it became. This huge piece contains a Baritone soloist, a mixed choir, a childrens choir, organ, and orchestra. After the Librettist for the piece died Honegger was left with an unfinished text. Once he resumed work on the piece after putting it aside for 12 years he incorporated a variety of European carols to finish the text. The oratorio contains French, German, Austrian, and English carols all sung in their native tongue and at certain time in the piece are juxtaposed upon each other. This mixing of the languages provided for Honeggers celebration of unity among nations. Listen for these traditional carols throughout. Some such familial carols are "Silent Night," "Lo how a rose er blooming," "He is born," and many others.
This cantata written for the 27th Sunday after trinity tells the story of the foolish virgins who missed their bridegrooms. This is symbolic to their "heavenly bridegroom" that will soon come and that they better be ready when he arrives. We hear "Wachet Auf" (Wake Up) dont be foolish and miss Christ like you did your bridegrooms. This is significant in that the fact that the birth of Christ soon follows about five weeks after this Sunday. This piece contains the melody from the original hymn "Wachet auf" in the first, fourth, and seventh movements also the movements that the entire choir sings. The other movements contain solos and duets. Also there are a few instrumental solos accompanying the singers. The third movement contains a great violin solo, and there is also a beautiful obligato oboe solo in the sixth movement. These all are supported by the continuo composed of bassoon, cello, bass, and harpsichord.
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