Christmas Carols of Old Europe
with organ improvisations on the theme Aptatur from Codex las Huelgas
Prague Madrigal Singers


Supraphon 112 0817

Soli Deo Gloria SDG 610 901

House of Artists, Prague


1 - Fulgent nunc natalitia   [1:36]
2 - Alma redemptoris Mater   [2:51]
3 - Aptatur (Improvizace)   [1:15]
4 - Ons is gheboren nu ter tijt
5 - Sanctissima, mitissima
6 - Aptatur (Improvizace)
7 - Ecce quod natura   [2:34]
8 - Dies est laetitiae   [1:46]
9 - Aptatur (Improvizace)   [0:39]
10 - Alleluja, panna syna porodila   [1:10]
11 - In natali Domini   [2:46]


1 - Illuminare, Jerusalem
2 - Stella nuova 'n fra la gente
3 - Danielis prophetia
4 - Aptatur (Improvizace)   [1:06]
5 - Eja martyr Stephane   [2:24]
6 - Salve lux fidelium   [1:03]
7 - Sophia nasci fertur   [1:32]
8 - Aptatur (Improvizace)   [1:05]
9 - Alleluja, a newŽ work   [2:55]
10 - Else, else, else   [1:36]
11 - Aptatur (Improvizace)   [2:37]

Prague Madrigal Singers
Miroslav Venhoda

Chamber Ensemble of the Prague National Museum

Jaroslav VodrŠžka • organ

Another release:
Alteuropšische Weihnacht
SDG, 1972



#1-3, 7-11, 15-22

Christmas Carols of European Nations
CD, 1988


Carols for 1971
Gramophone review – December 1971

That Christmas records usually, inevitably, and quite rightly tend towards carols and hymns which have become established favourites makes any record which departs from this pattern of all the greater interest and value. Such a one is "Christmas Carols of Old Europe" presented by the Prague Madrigal Singers conducted by Miroslav Venhoda. In his brief sleeve-note Mr Venhoda tells us that is has long been an ambition of his to present a picture of the Europe of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and its Christian dream of unity. For his material he has gone to manuscripts of his own country, with others from Holland, Germany, England, Spain and elsewhere, many of them seemingly in his own collection. A leaflet gives the original texts with abbreviated translations into English, French and German. It is a delightful selection, beautifully sung to accompaniments of 'period' or 'period-style' instruments, and admirably recorded.

Interpolated here and there between the carols are a series of organ improvisations on the theme Aptatur from the Codex de las Huelgas played by Jaroslav VodrŠzka. There are half a dozen of these improvisations, varying in length from a trifle over half a minute to a minute and a half. It is a lovely theme upon which to meditate. The Huelgas Codex is a highly important Spanish collection of medieval vocal music, both polyphonic and melodic, copied between the later thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries for use in the Cistercian Convent of Las Huelgas (Burgos). It is particularly rich in the music of Spain, France and England, the last by reason of the fact that the convent was founded by Alphonse VIII of Castile (115812 14), whose consort was Eleanor of England.

Let no-one think that this record is only for students of ars antiqua. I am quite sure that those who venture to buy it will find themselves rehearing many of these lovely melodies again and again, as I shall. I am not qualified to say much about the authenticity of the presentation but the sound falls delectably on my ears. The sixteen carols and six improvisations are grouped into seven tracks (Supraphon 112 0817).


W. A. C.