is a simple, straightforward record of a concert at the Benedictine Abbey of Melk of three Bach works for the season of Advent. All of them are, in different ways, meditations on the imminent arrival of Christ, both as child and as Messiah, and on the role of Mary as his mother. Nikolaus Harnoncourt has this music in his bones and so do his impressive team of soloists and the Arnold Schoenberg Choir; the Concentus Musicus of Vienna by now play original-style instruments so smoothly that one has almost to remind oneself of how shocking the authenticity movement sounded a few short years ago. Ian Bostridge is especially fine in the extended tenor part of the less well-known piece Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland
; Bostridge combines an absolute vocal purity with a fierce intelligence in his approach to the words--the advantage of the DVD is that it lets us see him and his fellow soloists thinking as well as singing. Christine Schafer is particularly fine in the Magnificat in D
, in which Harnoncourt lets his orchestra rip, reminding us why this is such a popular festival piece.
On the DVD: The DVD, presented in 16:9 visual ratio, has sumptuous Dolby Digital sound, subtitles in English, German, Italian, Spanish and French and no other frills whatsoever. --Roz Kaveney
16:9 Wide Screen
Linear PCM Stereo
DTS 5.0 Surround
Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround