Friday, 9 May 2008

98. Johann Sebastian Bach - Christmas Oratorio (1734-35)


Title: Weihnachtsoratorium. Christmas Oratorio
Performer: Collegium Aureum
Director: Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden
Year: 1973
Length: 2 hours 40 minutes (3 CDs)


Again we have a choral work by Bach, this time an oratorium, and it is also a pretty good one, but again not on the scale of the passions. In the present day we all seem to give a lot more importance to the Christmas period than the Easter one, but in religious terms what happens is very much the opposite, and that might explain why this isn't as inspired as the Passions.

Bach is of course still a prize composer and the six cantatas that compose the oratorio are all pretty good. The fact that it is divided into six cantatas kind of keeps the attention of the listener, the different cantatas have different moods, themes and sound quite different.

So, not the best of Bach, but still pretty great Bach. listen to it for the great choral ensembles more than anything.

Final Grade



From wikipedia:

It is likely that the text was written by Picander. It is in six parts, each part being a cantata intended for performance on one of the Twelve Days of Christmas (although the work is nowadays often performed as a whole). It is narrated by a Tenor Evangelist, and also makes extensive use of Lutheran hymns.

The first cantata, for the first day of Christmas, focuses on Mary, (sung by the alto) in the period around the birth of Jesus; the second, for the second day of Christmas, the appearance of the angel to the shepherds; the third, for the third day of Christmas, the visit of the shepherds to Jesus in the stable; the fourth, for New Year's Day, the Circumcision of Christ; the fifth, for the Sunday after New Year's Day, the arrival of the Three Wise Men at Herod's palace in Jerusalem; and the last, for the Feast of the Epiphany, the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem and the Flight into Egypt.

The opening of this all-male version of the Oratorio:

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