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on 24 March 2013
This is a very fine and balanced performance which incorporates the knowledge gained from HIP with a certain freedom of expression and beautiful sound. Some might say, also combined with a traditional approach. Excellent orchestra on period instruments and a fairly large professional choir. It is probably one of the best choir in Germany,not a specialist HIP choir but one which Djkstra has formed over the past few years. It is the pendant to the symphony orchestra of the Bavarian radio under Jansons, considred one of the best in the World. Very good soloists, especially the bass and tenor, who also sings the recitatives. Perfect and clear German pronunciation and diction from soloists and choir. A female alto with a round and pleasant voice instead of a counter. She sings with sensitivity. All the soloists have a natural and controlled vibrato. One German reviewer wrote that this recording strikes a balance between HIP and Karl Richter. I cannot hear much Richter (although I sang on his recording) but I daresay that he means that this is a well-rounded performance with no extremes, a certain emphasis on beauty of sound and quite a large but extremely clear choir.The chorales are, for example a little slower than in some recent versions and the soloists use ornaments sparingly. Extremely well recorded too!
This is a performance with great subtelty and finesse and not one which will bring you to you cheering to your. feet. It is delicate and light rather than heavy and overpowering. Some might say that it is perhaps a bit "middle of the road" but I disagree. Listen with attention and you will discover many hidden beauties. I consider it one of the best recently recorded Weihnachtsoratoriums. It deserves more attention and I sincerely recommend it to all lovers of Bach 's music and those who want to get to know it..
In addition the analysis of the work (on the last two CDs) is is really illuminating, even to those who already know a lot about Bach and his time. It is illustrated with eyamples from this recording. The same team did a similar analysis/introduction about the St. Matthew Passion a few years ago. Equally engrossing! I
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