CD Review:

J S Bach - Christmas Oratorio (Box set) (Label: Archiv)
Johannes Sebastian Bach
Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloist
Nancy Argenta

The combination of Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists almost always promise magic. 

Unlike all other Bach’s Cantata or music compositions, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio is unique of its kind.  It is a set of six cantatas performed on six different days – the three days of Christmas  (25th, 26th, 27th), New Year’s day, the Sunday after New Year and the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th).

In modern performance, this approximately three-hour composition, is generally either presented as a whole, or split into two equal sections. 

Bach did not conceive the oratorio as one uninterrupted work. Each separate cantata uses different performing groups and that the instrumental requirements for each cantata differ quite considerably, emphasizing the idea that this is not one single work like the Messiah or St. Matthew Passion.

The Cantata as a musical form is originated from Italy. It tells a story in song, whether secular or sacred. It is usually composed in clearly marked sections of contrasting musical character to match the narrative of the text.

This 1987 recording is a more than worthy performance of the Bach Christmas Oratorio. The orchestra plays with inspirations and spirits.

Together with a full house of outstanding artists, it had successfully brought to its audience a remarkable blend of sound between the choir, the orchestra and the soloist. It also fetches a bundle of festive joy.  

~ Written by Boon Sin Ler

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