Bach, Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin, Peter Dijk - Weihnachtsoratorium/Christmas Oratorio

Published Thursday 17th November 2011
Bach, Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin, Peter Dijk - Weihnachtsoratorium/Christmas Oratorio
Bach, Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin, Peter Dijk - Weihnachtsoratorium/Christmas Oratorio
DVD

STYLE: Choral
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 120793-
LABEL: BR Klassik 900502
FORMAT: DVD Music video
ITEMS: 2

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Back in the 18th century Advent was taken almost as seriously as Lent and professional church choirs stood down for the duration. Imagine, then, the excitement as the crashing of the drums and the sounding of the brass called worshippers to attention on the first day of Christmas 1734 with the unveiling of Johann Sebastian Bach's latest offering. However "latest" is not quite the word as several themes in these six cantatas were recycled from earlier works but the sequence, that ran until Epiphany 1735, quickly established itself as one of Bach's most popular. Listeners, both ancient and modern, continue to find Bach's melodies toe-tapping and his sense of exuberant joy is infectious. There are, of course, a multitude of recordings of these cantatas available for comparison but this is the first DVD that has come to our attention. Conductor Peter Dijkstra keeps things moving at an appropriately cheerful tempo and he is not let down by any of his soloists. Each of the six cantatas is introduced by a brief artistic interlude with a work of art being shown and a German narrator saying something. And here lies my problem: I do not understand German and there are no sub-titles. I enjoyed looking at the pictures but without a translation I can only guess as to their significance. This absence of sub-titles also has an impact on our appreciation of the performance. I know the Christmas story well enough and the Bible references supplied in the DVD booklet along with the German texts (again untranslated) enabled me to follow the plot but without something - anything - in English I am left to struggle and thus cannot give this an unreserved recommendation.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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