Christmas Oratorio

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: Signum
WORKS: Christmas Oratorio (arr. Dobbins)
PERFORMER: King’s Singers; WDR Big Band/Bill Dobbins
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD 215

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I’ve heard few odder Christmas albums than this one. It’s an arrangement for jazz band of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, with the King’s Singers as vocalists. The opening chorus ‘Jauchzet, frohlocket!’ certainly ‘swings’, volleys of snare-shot syncopation propelling it forward, with an extended horn solo (eliciting appreciative mid-movement applause) and drum-break interpolated. The singing is highly accomplished, as is the Cologne band’s playing, but the clash of sensibilities (if not of styles) is bothersome, the awe and spirituality in Bach’s music replaced by something altogether slicker and more commercially calculating. Terry Blain