Today marks the last day of Christmas, the feast of the Epiphany. The story goes that the three wise men arrived at the stable to pay homage to the infant child, Jesus, with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
So I cannot resist one last Christmas offering, appropriate for the occasion. I posted a version of this piece in 2016, but I have yet to hear it sung better than this.
Peter Cornelius (1824-74) was a friend of both Wagner and Liszt, but he was not especially sympathetic to their styles. Although he wrote plenty of other compositions, he is one of those composers who is now known chiefly for one piece alone, in his case The Three Kings, and it is the perfect way to bring the season to a close. So today I will be brief and steer you directly to the music, with no attempt to add anything wise to the words of Cornelius, for the text is his, too.
In 2016, I was fortunate enough to play a part in putting together the Christmas concert for the MS Society in St Paul’s Cathedral. Gerald Finley sang the piece with the choir. I have struggled in vain to isolate the clip, but all you have to do is to scroll to 1.16.40 for a few minutes of undiluted nectar. On that day, I heard it twice in rehearsal; but professionals always hold something back for the big moment, and the sound and clarity on the occasion were unforgettable.
I don’t have any prizes to hand out, but I will be very impressed if anyone can identify both faces behind him.
Click on the image and scroll to 1.16.40 (there are other delights if you want to listen to more, the concert starts at 15.17).