This is a spectacular performance of a set of six joyous cantatas for Christmas. A choir takes the key role in this work. Therefore, the main star is undoubtly Dresdener Kreuzchor (The Choir of the Church of the Holy Cross in Dresden). The boys' choir (which includes not only small boys but also young men who take the baritone and bass parts) is marvellous - clear in tone, secure in intonation and precise in diction.
The four professional singers are all impressive. Both female singers - Arleen Auger (soprano) and Annelies Burmeister (alto) sing arias most tenderly. Both Peter Schreier (tenor) and Theo Adam (bass), who used to be boy choristers of Kreuzchor in their youth, are very famous so that there is no need for me to describe their wonderful singing.
Martin Flamig (27th cantor of Dresdener Kreuzchor) conducts with precision and sensitivity. The last but not the least, the Dresden Philmarmonic - the "second orchestra" in Dresden - supports the singers expertly, using modern instruments. The first trumpeter, Ludwig Guettler, is particularly virtuosic in accompanying many choruses. Just listen to the final chorus in Part 6!
This performance, I think, is "authentic" in terms of style and spirit. It is not a question of whether to use original-type instruments, to play notes semi-tone lower or to perform at fast tempi. All the main performers, except Arleen Auger, were educated and based in Saxony where the tradition of performing Bach's choral music survives today.
I have listened to many different recordings of this work, but this version has become the standard, to me, by which all other recordings and performances are judged. The recording, made in 1974-75, is of demonstration quality. If you want to listen to this joyous masterpiece at Chistmas time, look no further.