Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) was actually born Michael Schultze, but took Pratorius (meaning ‘mayor’) as a Latinisation of his name. He was the youngest son of a Lutheran pastor, and used Protestant hymns to shape his music. Since he had the advantage of steady employment first as an organist and then as a court composer, he was able to indulge his knowledge of the ‘new’ composers such as Giovanni Gabrieli. He is best known for the secular dances, of which there are several versions, but the issue of the CD this comes from helped to re-establish the reputation of his church music too.
Paul McCreesh’s version of the Lutheran Divine Service, played by the Gabrieli Consort and Players, is a stunning recreation of how the celebrations on Christmas morning might have sounded to early 17th century ears. Most of the plaudits tend to focus on the sonic explosion of the recessional at the end, In Dulci Jubilo, which presages the coming of baroque music in its aural wipeout of voices, trumpets and drums, but the whole magical tapestry deserves your attention. Not all the pieces on here are by him, but it would have been unlikely that one composer would have written all the music for the Mass, even then.
Praetorius, Mass For Christmas Morning