Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto”: Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Here is music which evokes the hushed reverence and mystery of Christmas Eve: the Concerto grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8 by Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713). Corelli wrote twelve “concerti grossi,” a popular baroque genre which features a dramatic back-and-forth dialogue between the full ensemble and small groups of instruments. This piece is commonly called the “Christmas Concerto” because it may have been performed by Corelli on Christmas Eve, 1690. The title page bears the inscription, Fatto per la notte di Natale (“made for the night of Christmas”). The Concerto closes with a serene Pastoralesimilar in character to pastorale movements in Handel’s Messiah and J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio

Here is a 1989 recording by British harpsichordist Nicholas McGegan and the San Francisco-based Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Their performance brings out the buoyant vitality of baroque dance. At the same time, we’re drawn intimately into the mystery inherent in this piece. Listen to the magical way the final Pastorale fades into stillness at the end.

Recordings

  • Corelli: Concerti grossi, Op. 6, Nos. 1-6, Nicholas McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra iTunes
  • Corelli: Concerti grossi, Op. 6, Nos. 7-12, Nicholas McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra iTunes

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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