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The composition of the Christmas Oratorio by J.S.Bach((1685-1750)is estimated to be around 1734. This is more than the usual series of six self-contained cantatas for the Christmas period as there are many unifying factors at work. The most obvious is the Evangelist's narrative, which is based on the Gospel readings for the season; the six commemorative days are: First Day of Christmas (Luke 2: l,3-7) - Second Day of Christmas (Luke 2: 8-14) - Third Day of Christmas (Luke 2: 15-20) - New Years Feast of the Circumcision (Luke 2: 21) -Sunday after New Year (Matt. 2: 1-6) and Epiphany (Matt. 2: 7-12). Bach's librettist (unknown) was careful to give each part its identity, meditating on various aspects of the Christmas Story.

Everything about this recording is first-rate, from the Chorus and Orchestra of the Collegium Vocale to the ourstanding soloists. Herreweghe's tempos are upbeat and he apparently encouraged a 'bright' sound in the orchestra as well as the chorus. There are some exquisitely performed instrumental solos, particularly on violin, oboe, oboe d'amore, flute and trumpet.

The four vocal soloists performed with dramatic intensity displaying familiarity within the realm of Bach. Michael Chance, countertenor, who sang three major arias totaling twenty-one minutes, was perfection as he produced note after 'golden' note. In Part Five there is a hauntingly beautiful trio rendered by Barbara Schlick, soprano, Michael Chance, alto, and Howard Crook, tenor. Peter Kooy's bass solo in Part Five was beyond description in its lovliness

Brand New / sealed 2CD
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  • Seller location: Lower Hutt City, Wellington, NZ

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