- Performer: Nancy Argenta, Anne Sofie von Otter, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Hans-Peter Blochwitz
- Orchestra: Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists
- Conductor: Sir John Eliot Gardiner
- Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
- Audio CD (4 Nov. 1987)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 2
- Format: Box set
- Label: Archiv Produktion
- ASIN: B0000057D5
- Other Editions: MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,938 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Bach: Christmas Oratorio Box set
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Bach: Christmas Oratorio / Gardiner, English Baroque Soloists . Release Date: 10/25/1990 . Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg) . Catalog #: 423 232 . Spars Code: DDD . Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach . Performer: Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Anne Sofie von Otter, Nancy Argenta, Hans-Peter Blochwitz, ... Conductor: John Eliot Gardiner . Orchestra/Ensemble: English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir . Number of Discs: 2 . Recorded in: Stereo . Length: 2 Hours 20 Mins. Works on This Recording: 1. Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248 by Johann Sebastian Bach Performer: Anthony Rolfe Johnson (Tenor), Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano), Nancy Argenta (Soprano), Hans-Peter Blochwitz (Tenor), Olaf Bär (Bass), Ruth Holton (Soprano), Katie Pringle (Soprano) Conductor: John Eliot Gardiner Orchestra/Ensemble: English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir Period: Baroque Written: 1734-1735; Leipzig, Germany Date of Recording: 01/1987 Venue: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London Length: 140 Minutes 4 Secs. Language: German Notes: Composition written: Leipzig, Germany (1734 - 1735).
Top Customer Reviews
My largest compliment to Bonney, von Otter, Rolfe-Johnson, Crook and Bär, The Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and not least Sir John.
I will compare this to two other recordings:
If you like your baroque music with a little more meat than in period performances, you should go for Richter's recording and enjoy Fritz Wunderlich as the evangelist. Richter has a more powerful, but also a little more cumbersome sound than Gardiner, but if you can't live without a large choir and traditional instruments, Richter is the one to go for.
Secondly, I will mention the obvious period performance competitor, namely the one from Harmonia Mundi with Rene Jacobs conducting. While that is also a notable account, it is more "puritan" in the presentation and the artistic impression is more dry and academic than with Gardiner. And Jacobs uses the default Harmonia Mundi alto, counter tenor Andreas Scholl, to sing the part of the Virgin Mary. Although he sounds more like a woman than most counter tenors, there is just something wrong with a man singing "Schlafe, mein Liebste". There is nothing to suggest, that Bach didn't use a female contralto for the Christmas Oratorio, so please stop thinking that it is historically correct to have this part sung by a man... it's just plain "Life of Brian" to have the Holy Mother played by a man in falsetto. Take Anne-Sofie von Otter in this recording to hear what a baroque mezzo should sound like in period performance.
Or do like me and get both Richter and Gardiner.
The spirit of the selection is much what you would expect in a disc entitled `Christmas Treats from JSB' or `Immortal Melodies from The Christmas Oratorio' or something of that sort. Bach's Christmas Oratorio is not an oratorio in the Handelian sense. In the 1730's Bach faithfully turned out a cantata for each Sunday and major feast, but in one particular year he elected to reprocess some of his older music, most of it secular originally, and string the numbers together for the entire festive season under the overall title of `Christmas Oratorio'. Borrowing, adaptation and recomposition of earlier music, sometimes one's own sometimes someone else's, was a standard practice at the time. Nobody saw anything wrong with it, and to this day neither do I. Neither Bach nor Handel can exactly be taxed with lack of original output in astonishing quantities, and it is not as if the recycling of the material was not quite a major task in its own right. The Christmas Oratorio is commonly viewed as a lesser work than the B minor Mass or the St Matthew Passion, and while I probably go along with that view to a certain extent, I don't do so for the reasons I usually see argued. The secular origin of the music is neither here nor there in my opinion - all Bach's music is explicitly written for the greater glory of God. Also, when I see this work compared to its disadvantage with the B minor Mass on grounds of recycling, I have to recall that the B minor Mass itself is made up of recycled material practically from start to finish.Read more ›
Now, if I could just find a decent English translation recording of it - I particularly love "Beside the Cradle here I Stand".
Bach's Christmas Oratorio consists of six cantatas. Bach has used pieces of the composition before this but he brings everything together as one unified and new work.
The original intention was for performance of each part on a different day during the twelve days of Christmas. The first three parts deal with Christmas itself and the birth of Christ. The fourth deals with the naming of Jesus and the fifth deals with the reactions of King Herod. The final part deals with the visit of the wise men.
The composition opens with the jubilant D major chorus followed by words of the Evangelist from Luke's Gospal.
The whole recording is on period instruments without over the top vibrato on strings and choir.
The sound and balance of everyone in the recording is excellent. This is a great oratorio and an excellent interpretation.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
History fails to record the name of the man who was more heroic than any recipient of the Victoria Cross or the Medal of Honor but his fame lives on in the annals of bravery. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Bernard Michael O'Hanlon
Great, great, great if I didn't think so I would not give it 5 stars.Published 16 months ago by Mr. Rodney Walker
Have listened to this over and over again. I simply love it. The choral pieces in particular. It's not "car" music, but I do listen to it in the car, some parts are quite,... Read morePublished 24 months ago by Big Bando