Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Adolphe Adam

Adam, as a composer of both ballet and vocal music, knew how to showcase the artistry of his performers -- dancers or singers. While his greatest showpiece for the voice is perhaps the Postillon aria from Le Postillon de Lonjumeau, the Cantique de Noël is by far his best known, familiar to both classical and popular audiences. When it was first published, many religious leaders felt that the Cantique was too theatrical, making a showpiece out of a text that demanded a more contemplative treatment. Audiences, however, disagreed, and the song is still popular both in the original French version, "Minuit, Chrétiens," and the English-language version, "O Holy Night." The rising vocal line builds slowly, further intensifying at the exclamatory "Peuple, à genoux," and then climaxing on a high B flat at the triumphant "Noël!" Although he performed it in Swedish rather than the original French (perhaps sacrificing some of the nuances of Adam's text setting), Jussi Björling's recording is a standard rendition of this work.