Along with his St Matthew Passion and B Minor Mass, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio is one of the true treasures of the sacred choral repertoire. It was in 1734 in Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church where the Oratorio—made up of six cantatas composed for the major feast days of the Lutheran Christmas calendar—was first performed, and it is in the same church that Gotthold Schwarz, the seventeenth Thomaskantor (St. Thomas Church music director) since Bach’s own tenure, brings the masterpiece once more to life with his elite boy’s choir, the Thomanerchor, and Leipzig’s Gewandhausorchester. Based on the Gospels of Luke (cantata nos. 1 through 4) and Matthew (cantatas five and six) as well as on the poetry of German writers and theologians including Picander, Luther, Franck, and Gerhardt, these works take listeners on a vivid musical journey through the nativity mystery, beginning with Jesus’s birth to the adoration of the Magi.
Collegium Vocale Gent