BACH, J.S.: Christmas Oratorio (Harnoncourt)



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- (Disc 1)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248

Venue: Stiftskirche Waldhausen
Playing Time: 02:33:34
Catalogue Number: A05004574

Bach's Christmas Oratorio was first heard in its entirety at Leipzig's St. Thomas church at Christmastime 1734. Some Leipzig church-goers may have recognized some of the melodies, since Bach used material from earlier works, sometimes reworking the music to fit new texts. This practice, called the "parody technique", was frequent in Bach's time. The six separate, large-scale but related parts of the Oratorio tell the Nativity story through texts of the apostles St. Matthew and St. Luke, and through traditional or newly written material. Bach is credited with shaping the text and selecting the Biblical passages in such a way that the work follows a logical sequence. This contribution gives the piece a musically dramatic and compelling textual unity.

Considered one of the world's leading specialists of Baroque music, Nikolaus Harnoncourt founded the Concentus Musicus Wien in 1953. It has since become one of the world's most respected ensembles specializing in the performance of early music on original instruments or faithful reproductions. With its opulent decor and gilt ornamentation, the Austrian Baroque church of Waldhausen provides a setting evocative of Bach's times. An added highlight of the program is the retelling of the Nativity story with the magnificent carved figures of two master wood-carvers of the Baroque period from Upper Austria. Also heard on the recording are the distinguished tenor Peter Schreier, bass Robert Holl and the Tölzer Boys' Choir.

Part 1

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