Trinity College Choir, Cambridge: JS Bach Christmas Oratorio

Album title:
JS Bach: Christmas Oratorio
JS Bach
Christmas Oratorio
Katherine Watson, Iestyn Davies, James Gilchrist, Matthew Brook; Trinity College Choir, Cambridge; OAE/ Stephen Layton
Catalogue Number:
CDA 68031/2
Performance :
Recording :
BBC Music Magazine
Trinity College Choir, Cambridge: JS Bach Christmas Oratorio

Substantially culled from a couple of earlier secular cantatas, Bach’s 1734 present to the churchgoers of Leipzig revels in such elevated recycling that it’s not impossible Bach had the Christmas Oratorio at the back of his mind from the very start. Stephen Layton unwraps it with all due festive pomp and circumstance. Part V’s ‘Ehre sei dir, Gott gesungen’ bowls along with irrepressible ebullience, and the majestic opening of Part V is powered by a confident, striding energy. Yet some tempos play a little safe; Layton’s measured, well-manicured approach may exude a quiet authority, but Masaaki Suzuki’s lightness of touch and René Jacobs’s theatricality give a dash more seasonal sparkle.

Not that the superb quartet of soloists yields so much as a demisemiquaver to the competition. In a work incontestably smitten with the alto voice, Iestyn Davies triumphs, dependably warm and expressively supple. Matthew Brook’s resplendent all-guns-blazing ‘Grosser Herr’ is gilded by David Blackadder’s nimble trumpet and, throughout, James Gilchrist’s relaxed and lyrical Evangelist maintains the narrative flow. And spurred on by Lisa Beznosiuk’s deliciously liquid flute, he also negotiates the agilities of ‘Frohe Hirten’ with silvery aplomb. Crisp choral singing and exquisite accompaniment, this is a decidedly welcome addition to anyone’s Christmas stocking.

Paul Riley

Mariss Jansons: Britten War Requiem
Mariss Jansons: Britten War Requiem
previous review Article
The Tallis Scholars: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, Taverner
The Tallis Scholars: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, Taverner
next review Article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here