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Weihnachtsoratorium (Christmas Oratorio): J.S. Bach Double CD

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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  • Performer: Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne
  • Orchestra: Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne
  • Conductor: Michel Corboz
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (23 Nov. 2009)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B002TKTOSS
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 278,126 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER on 25 July 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It's hard to believe that this recording is now nearly thirty years old. Originally issued on Erato, it is now available on the bargain Apex label and worth anyone's money.

These are not the names usually associated with great Bach performances but I have rarely heard this inexhaustibly melodic and inventive music played with such evident and high-spirited relish. It does not replace my favourite traditional recording by Karl Richter with its unmatched line-up of soloists (Janowitz, Ludwig, Wunderlich and Crass) but it runs it close for sheer verve and majesty.

I have never heard Barbara Schlick so pure and silvery; indeed, at first I found the similarity of her timbre to Janowitz striking. Kurt Equiluz has a sweet, smallish but expressive tenor and is an old hand in Bach. Carolyn Watkinson's resonant mezzo is very counter-tenorish in timbre with none of the attendant disadvantages you sometimes get with that voice category; she is mellow and totally steady with a splendidly trenchant power register which never sounds plummy. Michel Brodard's "bass" is really a light baritone; he is a very musical and agile even if there is occasionally more than a hint of an aspirate in his divisions - and even Equiluz sometimes stands guilty of that venial sin. They make a fine team, all in all.

The choir is superb: precise and energised in attack, although the resonant recording acoustic robs their diction of some clarity, especially as we are far from the OVPP fad. Best of all, are the conducting of Corboz and the playing of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra. "Who?" you might say, but they are delightful: the trumpets marvellously adept and the oboe, oboe d'amore, cor anglais and bassoon all adding a wonderfully smoky, resinous quality to the instrumental accompaniment, which is never lugubrious or treacly. Neither the chorus nor the orchestra is very big, anticipating more modern practice, but they pack plenty of heft when necessary.
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Format: Audio CD
Dawn came to Guyana. Deep in its jungle, the inmates of Hipster-Town were sleeping uneasily on their beds of straw. To the last, they were woken by a crackle from the public-address system. It was Father Melchizedek OP, the High Priest of Period Practice. Bedecked ominously in sunglasses, the cleric was looking worse for wear; a bottle of sweet-sherry was in his barnacled right hand as he spoke into the microphone.

"Sheep of the flock," he whinnied, "the past is best left in the peace of the sepulchre! That's surely the case with most performances of Bach before the revelations of the `Early Music' movement, and especially so with lumbering Neanderthal recording of Bach's Matthew Passion and Mass in B Minor by the likes of Karajan & Klemperer. Just about every antediluvian conductor recorded Bach's choral works with the largest Heldenwhoop und Heldenblare orchestra available. They should be sealed in a museum case as prime evidence of why the efforts to relearn the techniques of Baroque singing and of playing original instruments are absolutely crucial."

He paused to shoo away some mosquitoes from the nearby coast.

"Karajan and Klemperer must have misunderstand the word Mass, thinking of it in physical terms as something heavy to be dragged until all musical energy was converted to square hinders on concert pews. If this is what some people hear as `spiritual' Bach, okay, okay, don't let me spoil it for you. Personally, it sounds conscience-ridden and sanctimonious to me. Besides, the soloists are vilely out of tune most of the time, and if you can't hear the tuning problems, perhaps your ears just aren't skilled at recognizing basic intervals - thirds, fifths, and such.
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