Classical & Opera: The Academy of Ancient Music sing and play Schutz

The Academy of Ancient Music sing and play Schutz at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford (01865 277299) on 12 Dec at 8pm, pounds 10-27
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Messiah here, Messiah there, Messiah everywhere. Yes, Handel's oratorio is a fine work but does it really need to dominate the entire Christmas music scene? Any orchestra or choir not doing the Messiah this December is almost worthy of being alleluiahed and even Bach's Christmas Oratorio gets some marks for originality.

But the accolade for interesting seasonal fare this week must go to the period-instrument Academy of Ancient Music, under the baton of Paul Goodwin, for their concert called The Schutz Christmas Collection. This intersperses settings by the early Baroque master with instrumental music and carols by some of his contemporaries.

Often referred to as the Father of German music, Schutz died in Dresden in 1672 having capped his long and distinguished career with an impressive Magnificat, composed when he was 86. So why don't we hear more of him and more by him? "I think people have entirely the wrong impression about Schutz," says Paul Goodwin. "They think he's early, heavy, long-winded and German. In fact, our concert disproves all those tags in a way. Most of these Christmas settings are charming, very short and composed in or influenced by his sojourns in Italy."

With a band of 10, chamber choir and vocal soloists, Goodwin's programme tells the entire Nativity story and, aside from Schutz, there's Gabrieli, Schmelzer and Praetorius. They should all resonate magnificently in the setting of the Sheldonian.