'La Notte': Concertos & Pastorales for Christmas Night

Bojan Čičić and the Illyria Consort’s latest Delphian recording revels in the great variety of musical styles and traditions that grew up around Christmas and its related feasts in Catholic Europe in the seventeenth century – a time when the introduction of ‘rustic’ effects into instrumental music changed the sound of Christmas forever.

The vivid theatricality of Baroque evocations of the shepherds and their milieu and the unusual combinations of instruments in much of this music, here given in performances brimming with energy and the joy of rediscovery, make this a Christmas album to reach for every year.

Bojan Čičić and his band make their case for an [instrumental-only] Christmas album very persuasively indeed ... Čičić’s solo playing sparkles atop the texture. the closing movement of Johann Georg Rauch’s sonata for three violins is unhurried but lilting, while that of Biber’s for solo violin and continuo is positively boisterous and – with the addition of Čičić’s ornamentation – even folksy. The whole album sparkles; it’s a veritable box of delights.

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'This joyful album brings together 17th and 18th century music written for Christmas and its related Catholic feasts ... brought to energetic life by violinist Cicic and his skilled Illyria Consort ...One for every December!'

★ ★ ★ ★

'Bojan Čičić - the man whose fingers never rest - brings us a feast of 17th-century musical styles from Catholic Europe - a time when the introduction of 'rustic' effects into instrumental music changed the sound of Christmas forever. Brimming with joy and energy, the Illyria Consort's unusual combination of instruments in this recording bring to mind the vivid theatricality of shepherds and their milieu ... '


Bojan Čičić and the period instrumentalists of his Illyria Consort have put together a sparkling collection of Baroque chamber music from central Europe, and it’s sure to appeal to those who hanker after something other than the usual standard fare for this time of year. And you can forget the ‘Pastoral Symphony’ from Messiah, the Sinfonia from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, and even Corelli’s ‘Christmas Concerto’. The programme is bookended by two Vivaldi concertos (although emphatically not ‘Winter’ from The Four Seasons!), but the rest is from largely Germanic, Catholic south-central Europe: Austria and the Habsburg lands. There are rarities aplenty, and even a couple of premiere recordings ... the whole work shimmers with a tender luminosity that is completely captivating ... Čičić and his colleagues deliver consistently assured, lively and polished performances, with bucolic edginess where appropriate, and a variety of continuo instrumentation including not just harpsichord and organ but also theorbo, Baroque triple harp and bassoon. They are vividly recorded for Delphian in a nicely focussed church acoustic by Paul Baxter, and there are detailed notes on the music by Robert Rawson. It’s an immensely enjoyable disc, fizzing with delights from start to finish, and a most welcome alternative to the carols and songs that seem to take over the airwaves and public address systems at this time of year. Recommended with all enthusiasm!

read the full review here

"Quirky composers (Vivaldi, Biber, Schmelzer) run riot in La Notte, a delightful album from Bojan Cicic’s spirited Illyria Consort ... "

'a beautifully played and thoughtfully paced album with some gorgeous half-lights in slower movements and a natural unforced joy about the whole venture'


'For those, like me, who dread inevitable Christmas recording releases, this might be one to consider. The more obvious Christmas elements are rather light-touch, and it would make for generally relaxed listening at any time of the year. Bojan Čičić’s violin playing is a characteristic balance of extreme virtuosity and musical sensitivity and sensible restraint. The instrumentalists of Illyria Consort are top-notch, with particular highlights being Sally Holman’s bassoon playing in La notte, Steven Devine’s harpsichord playing in the Musikalisch Uhrwerk, and Joseph Crouch’s cello contribution in Il riposo'


"I think this is one of my favourite new Christmas albums this year ..."


"A tremendously inventive Christmas album... very fresh and in the moment ... itwill teach you things about Moravian Christmas music that you never knew - I can guarantee that. Excellent liner notes tell us about rustic music being introduced in this 17th Century and it’s a very fun disc. It’s very lively, very very appealing, but also - you learn a lot from listening to it ... There’s a joie de vivre about it [Vivaldi] and listen out for the bassoon and continuo cutting through the string texture. Absolutely irresistible, rustic and characterful and slightly comedic"


BBC RADIO 3 - Record Review

Release Date: 18 November 2022
Catalogue No: DCD34278
Total playing time: 1:05:52
Recorded on 16-18 March 2022 in St Martin’s Church, East Woodhay, Hampshire
Producer/Engineer: Paul Baxter
24-bit digital editing: Jack Davis
24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter
Design: Drew Padrutt
Booklet editor: Henry Howard
Cover: Aaron Burden/Unsplash
Session photography: foxbrushfilms.com



Best Classical Christmas Albums 2022


Vivaldi: Concerto for violin and strings RV 104 'La notte': V. Allegro

Album Booklet


Watch Vivaldi's Concerto for Strings 'Il Riposo' during recording sessions at St Martin's Church, Oxfordshire

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