Bach: Weihnachts-Oratorium

LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Weihnachts-Oratorium
PERFORMER: RIAS-Kammerchor;?Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/René Jacobs
CATALOGUE NO: HMX 2901630.31
‘Rejoice, exult, arise and praise the day.’ These words launch the opening chorus of bach’s Christmas Oratorio, possibly the finest sequence of music ever assembled in celebration of the Christmas season. René Jacobs’s performance, released to wide acclaim in 1997, has now been reissued by Harmonia Mundi in booklet-style livery, with reproductions of relevant photographs and paintings, as well as full notes, texts and translations. It’s a handsome package, fully matched by the colour and liveliness of Jacobs’s interpretation. The boundingly joyful account of ‘Jauchzet, frohlocket’ which launches the oratorio sets the tone, its regal timpani, burbling woodwind and gleaming brass interjections a fitting introduction to the chorus’s exuberant celebration of the Redeemer’s birth. The soloists are uniformly impressive, particularly countertenor Andreas Scholl: his Part 3 aria ‘Schliesse, mein Herze’ is delectably alluring in tonal quality. A highly desirable reissue.