Herreweghe's Bach is one of the joys of modern music making. It's hard to believe that this recording is over twenty years old: it radiates freshness, and pulsates with the joy of the dance which is the spirit of so much contemporary Bach interpretation.
There's a lot of debate around over the ideal size for Bach choral performances these days. Here we have modest forces expertly deployed, but not the single-voice-to-a-part that others favour. Which is best? It's a matter of taste. Herreweghe for me highlights clarity and beauty without ever losing emotion or the spiritual heart of a work. This is the first time I've ever listened the whole way through the Christmas Oratorio and been enthralled from beginning to end. Each of the six sections feels complete, each feels rightly part of the whole.
Orchestral and vocal soloists are flawless; the information inside the CD cover is pretty basic - but at this price I have no complaints. A superb recording of a superb performance.