J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings


Main Performer
or Conductor:
John Eliot Gardiner
Accompaniment/Orchestra:English Baroque Soloists & Monteverdi Choir
Soloists:Nancy Argenta, soprano
Antony Rolfe-Johnson, tenor - Evangelist
Sophie Von Otter, alto
Hans Peter Blochwitz, tenor
Olaf Baer, baritone
Individual Works:Weihnachts-Oratorium (Christmas Oratorio), BWV 248, BWV 248
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Archiv Produktion
Catalog Number:423 232-2
Total Playing Time:On 2 cd's
Comments:Michael F. Gail said: Very fine recording.

Brad Leissa said: Period instruments.

Jan Hanford said: An extremely energetic performance and a crystal clear recording.

Kim Taeshik said:

Performances on period instruments are in vogue nowadays and many new conductors are entering the music scene, but as an old Korean proverb says, "the old governour is the best one" What I want to mean is that if you choose Gardiner, you won't fail ... his style is the best answer to an musical problem. Not too few, not too much(not too rigid as Hogwood, not too compromising as Christie). His "Weihnachts-Oratorium" will remain unmatched in the market for the next years. Superb soloists, great support by the choir and orchestra. Though I am a native Korean, I am a Protestant and have lived in Germany over 10 years, so I can say with confidence that I can appreciate Bach's church music to some extent... Gardiner's Weihnachts-Oratorium expresses very cogently the magnificent glory of Jesus Christ as well as the joyful event of his birth. A "must" for the Christmas seasons.

Felix Gulsrud said:

Please don't be insulted, but Gardiner's version of the Christmas oratorio is not my preference; in fact I have not found one single "historically informed" version that I like.
I never get used to these short of breath rhythms, frantic tempi, although I find this version not less agreeable than Harnoncourt's, Jacobs' or Suzuki's. In our time, baroque music is played faster and faster and sounds more and more like rock music, excused by original instruments and dubious historical information. Now and then Gardiners musicality wins over his dogmatism on Bach, and the music sounds nice, but these instances are unfortunately too rare on this recording. When will it be understood that the spirit of the baroque era was taking courtly elegance and dignity for granted? If you listen to Gardiner's "Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen" (Let your glory be sung out, oh God), you may understand what I mean; which glory for the Lord can it be at that speed? I don't think Bach was in such a hurry; I don't think people of the baroque era felt glory as a matter of speed; the more speed the more glory is more the spirit of our race & rock & rap days. I am sorry for young people that Jochum?s version from 1973 (the complete 3 CD edition) is out of print; I consider that one even greater than Richter?s, which I grew up with.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Michael F. Gail
  • Brad Leissa
  • Kim Taeshik
  • Felix Gulsrud
And from the collection of Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:12/06/1995