G.F. Händel: Messiah

Oratorio in three parts, HWV 56

This performance of the famous and beloved oratorio of George Frideric Handel would be only one of many such recordings if it were not for the rousing interpretation and the outstanding musicians. This live recording will renew enthusiasm and captivate even the most knowledgeable connoisseurs of this work.

Constanze Backes, soprano
Ulrike Schneider, alto
Mark Calvert, tenor
Peter Schüler, bass
Heidelberger Studentenkantorei Chamber Choir
L’arpa festante Munich
Conductor: Christoph Andreas Schäfer



George Frideric Handel: Messiah
CD 1: Part I, Part II
CD 2: Part II (cont.), Part III

Total recording time: 2.24.08     (2 CDs Audio)
Live recording: Dec. 2006, Heiliggeistkirche Heidelberg, Germany
English booklet enclosed / German booklet enclosed (28 p.)
Ord.-No. SRL4-07004 / (p) & (c) 2007 SPEKTRAL / Series SPEKTRAL CLASSICS


Heidelberger Studentenkantorei Chamber Choir

Although the name may suggest otherwise, the Heidelberger Studentenkantorei (Heidelberg Student Choir) does not only consist of students from Heidelberg University, but also of members of the church and singers from the entire region. Founded by Bruno Penzien in 1950, the Heidelberger Studentenkantorei gave its first concert of old and new Advent music on 10th December 1950. From the middle of the 1950’s, after initially presenting a programme of smaller works, larger choral works including Bach’s Passions, Haydn’s “The Creation” and Verdi’s Requiem were performed. In 1969 the choir took part in its first overseas tour, performing Bach’s Mass in B Minor in Nice, Marseilles and Montpellier. Christoph Andreas Schäfer has been Cantor at the Heiliggeistkirche since 1998. Under his direction all three Passions by Bach were performed in the Bach Year (2000). Modern church music also plays an important role for the Cantor, as for example the performances of Oskar Gottlieb Blarr’s Jesus-Passion in 1999 or the concert involving musical psalms by 20th century composers in 2001 show. A further focal point for Schäfer is the presentation of romantic a-cappella music. The Heidelberger Studentenkantorei Chamber Choir was formed under his direction as a small, flexible ensemble with talented choir singers from the “large” choir. Since 2005 the ensemble has recorded Bach’s “St. John Passion”, Moteverdi’s “Marienvesper” and Handel’s “Messiah”.

L’arpa festante

“L’arpa festante” – the dramatic musical work by Giovanni Battista Maccioni performed in 1653 at the opening of the Munich Opera House, symbolically stands for the artistic work and musical commitment of the baroque orchestra of the same name. Founded in 1983 as a traditional German ensemble for ancient music, L’arpa festante has developed an outstanding reputation not only as a group with a distinctive sound in its performance of instrumental works, but also as a partner of accomplished choirs in performances of all baroque, classical and romantic choir-orchestra literature. Depending on the date of origin of the piece performed, the musicians in L’arpa festante use the most suitable original instruments, allowing them to recreate the sound quality of the work as it originally was. L’arpa festante also works in close collaboration with the Mainz Bach Choir under the direction of Prof. Ralf Otto.
The extensive musical experience and virtuosic musical ability of the individual musicians give the ensemble a distinctive tone quality – colourful, sensitive, expressive and filled with nuances. With the variety of sounds amongst the historical instruments, dramatic moments in the music of Monteverdi to Mendelssohn are brought to life.
A focal point of the ensembles’ work is therefore the rediscovery and reproduction of unknown works from the southern German high baroque genre. Depending on the musical requirements of the work, formations ranging from solistic concertino instrumentation to a full orchestra of approximately 40 musicians are possible. Almost all meaningful choir-orchestra works of the 19th and 19th centuries used this latter instrumentation.
L’arpa festante have produced numerous CDs which have been enthusiastically received by critics and public alike. Productions of the Christmas Oratorio by Bach, organ concertos by Joseph Haydn, concerto for three harpsichords by C.P.E. Bach and in particular “Pythagorischen Schmids-Füncklein 1692” by Rupert Ignaz Mayr which has been recorded for the first time, have been recently released and have received wide attention. A CD containing works by David Pohle, a student of Schütz, is soon to be released.

Christoph Andreas Schäfer

studied church music in Heidelberg and Düsseldorf, successfully completing his state exam. From 1986-1990 he was assistant to Church Music Director Prof. Oskar Gottlieb Blarr at the Neanderkirche in Düsseldorf. His first professional engagement led him to Walsrode in the Lüneburg Heath, where he was Cantor from 1991-1994. From 1994-1998 he was employed by the Christuskirche in Freiburg as the Church Musician. As well as his job as organist, he was also extremely dedicated to his work as choir conductor, and conducted numerous oratorio performances and world premieres. Special focal points of his work include contemporary music and the arrangement of unusual church music programmes which include music from the areas of jazz and pop. Christoph Andreas Schäfer has been Cantor at the Heiliggeistkirche in Heidelberg since 1998. Here he conducts the Heidelberger Studentenkantorei (Heidelberg Student Choir), as well as the JungeKantoreiHeiliggeist (Heiliggeist Youth Choir) and the Kinderkantorei (Children’s Choir), both of which he also founded. He is also responsible for the organisation of the weekly concert series “Stunde der Kirchenmusik” (The Church Music Hour). On top of his work in the Heiliggeistkirche, he is also a contract teacher at the Freiburg University of Music, and is the Artistic Director of the Freiburg Children and Youth Choir. He has given concerts as an organist and choir conductor in Norway, Finland, Poland, Hungary, Belarus, Ukraine, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, France, Egypt and the USA.



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