J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Weihnachts-Oratorium (Christmas Oratorio)

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Eugen Jochum
Accompaniment/Orchestra:Chor & Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Soloists:Elly Ameling
Brigitte Fassbaender
Horst R. Laubenthal
Hermann Prey
Individual Works:The complete Christmas Oratorio (Weihnachts-oratorium), BWV 248
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Philips
Catalog Number:416 402-2
Year Released/Recorded:1973
Total Playing Time:On 3 CDs
Comments:Felix Gulsrud said:

Forgive my being a little personal here: I have tried hard to find a recording of Bach?s Christmas Oratorio (Weihnachts-oratorium) on original instruments at least approximately as good as this one. In vain. As this currently is out-of-print, I have no opportunity to give my favourite music of Bach as a gift. I simply cannot answer for Gardiner?s rapid version, Harnoncourt?s dry, Herreweghe?s impotent. I don?t feel that Jacob?s or Suzuki?s versions are more moving or less short-of-breath.
I don?t come from a religious family, but I still remember Christmas as a stately celebration with a certain mood of solemnity, dignity and reverence. The moment Christ is born is meant to be a sacred moment. But the idea of something sacred seems to be lost to our frantic days and I think this is reflected in all these speedy Christmas oratorios of dubious historical information excused by the use of original instruments. The somehow pompous spirit of the baroque era seems to escape the modern director, the idea that what we see in costume and ornamentation perhaps should be reflected in the historically informed performance. I think that directors who grew up before the rock era often had a more true approach to the spirit of the past, even if they didn?t have original instruments at hand. In my childhood we had always Richter?s Christmas Oratorio, but I think that Jochum?s recording from February 1973 is the very best. It is Jochum?s baton, his wand, the pacing, the phrasing, for example the dignity of the striding andante of Bereite dich Zion, the glory of the heavenly choruses, the intimacy of the arias, the rezitativs which still are able to move me to tears... This is the crib!
To this comes that everybody involved, whether vocal or instrumental soloists, seem fully devoted to the enterprise. The engineering is irreproachable, too. It is absurd that this stroke of genius is out-of-print, whereas Jochum?s less fortunate B-minor mass from the beginning of the 80ies still is available.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Felix Gulsrud
Date First Submitted:09/23/2005