Ursula Strubinsky on oe1.orf.at/highlights:
Who doesn’t know them: the songs “Vom Himmel hoch” (“From Heaven Above”), “In dulce jublio” or “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (“How lovely shines the Morning Star”)? Even in Renaissance times, they were already being sung at Christmas. Composers of that epoch applied themselves to these melodies and incorporated them into musical movements of their own. The Ensemble Mikado examines these different versions on their CD, “Born is the Babe”, and lets the familiar songs shine and sparkle in different arrangements. In the “early music” scene, the name Mikado stands for the audible perception of the pleasure of music making, well grounded expertise, flawless intonation and diverse arrangements.
The Christmas Story
The CD also includes less well-known Christmas carols from England, as well as purely instrumental pieces from Italy, Spain, England, Austria and the Netherlands. The pieces are generally arranged to tell the whole Christmas story, starting with the encounter between Mary and the Archangel Gabriel and leading to the inevitability that the newborn child will one day die on the cross.
With its brilliant and savory interpretations, the Ensemble Mikado reveals the grandiose command of their craft held by the masters of the Renaissance. Clear homophony and artful polyphony are just as notable as the touching simplicity and breath-taking virtuosity.
Furthermore, with its formation, the group can realize their full potential, as soprano singer Theresa Dlouhy is occasionally accompanied by contralto Maja Osojnik and baritone Thomas List. Usually, these two play the recorder, along with Katharina Lugmayr and Eva Reiter. Reiter, however, does not confine herself to the recorder, but alternates with the viola da gamba. The diverse talents of the ensemble give rise to numerous arrangements, which are, incidentally, arranged by the group themselves. On “Born is the Babe”, the ensemble of five performs a few pieces together with guests: they are joined by the gambist Christoph Urbanetz and the duo “Die Strottern”.