Bach Johann Sebastian - Leipziger Weihnachtskantaten

Componist(en):Johann Sebastian Bach
Dirigent(en):Philippe Herreweghe
Label(s):Harmonia Mundi
Label code:HMC 801781
Aanwezig in Muziekcentrumja


Leipziger Weihnachtskantaten BWV 63, 91, 121 en 133
Magnificat in Es BWV 243a

Dorothée Blotzky-Mields, Carolyn Sampson (sopranen); Ingeborg Danz (alt); Mark Padmore (tenor); Peter Kooy, Sebastian Noack (bassen);
Collegium Vocale Gent o.l.v. Philippe Herreweghe


The Guardian:
"Bach wrote just three large-scale choral works that he called oratorios, all in the space of a couple of years in the mid 1730s. Each was identified with a different season of the church year - Christmas, Easter and Ascension. Of those works, the Christmas Oratorio is by a long way the best known, though it is a very different kind of work from the form of the biblical oratorio that Handel composed so prolifically.
For the Christmas Oratorio is not one unified work, but six cantatas, each of which is based on a biblical scene and all linked together by their nativity theme, which were designed, as at the premiere in Leipzig between Christmas Day 1734 and Epiphany 1735, to be performed as part of the liturgy over the festive season.
There is no shortage of first-rate recordings of the Christmas Oratorio, but the latest one, played and sung with great urgency and stylishness by the voices and period instruments of the Netherlands Bach Society, under Jos van Veldhoven, is certainly presented differently from any other. The velvet slipcase might be a tacky mistake, but the hardback book that accompanies the discs is beautifully produced and contains a whole series of Nativity images from the Museum of the Catharine Convent in Utrecht. The idea is to create a real audiovisual experience, perusing the paintings while you listen - though my guess is that most listeners will admire the book once and after that simply play the discs.
Bach produced a whole stream of works for the Christmas feast days during his Leipzig years, but Philippe Herreweghe's set focuses on the four cantatas from 1723 and 1724 that he composed for his first two Christmasses there - "Christen, ätzet diesen Tag", "Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ", "Christum wir sollen loben schon" and "Ich freue mich in dir". The Christmas Day service in 1723 was also the source of his Magnificat, but when that was first heard it was a rather different work from what is so familiar today - it was in the key of E flat rather than D major, slightly differently scored and contained several movements that were omitted from the final version. Herreweghe's accounts are typically thoughtful, not at all theatrical or dramatically driven, and that slightly laid-back approach takes the edge off the Magnificat too, though the quality of the solo and choral singing, and the careful shaping of the orchestral lines are all exemplary.
( Andrew Clements Friday October 3, 2003)

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