Philippe Herreweghe conducts Bach's Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248

Collegium Vocale Gent

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Dorothee Mields — Soprano

Damien Guillon — Alto

Thomas Hobbs — Tenor

Peter Kooij — Bass

Collegium Vocale Gent

Philippe Herreweghe — Conductor

Program notes

Soprano Dorothee Mields, countertenor Damien Guillon, tenor Thomas Hobbs, bassPeter Kooij join the celebrated Collegium Vocale Ghent under their music director and founder, Belgian conductor Philippe Herreweghe, for a performance of J.S. Bach's beloved Christmas Oratorio at Brussels' Palais des Beaux-Arts in 2012.

Over the course of his life, Bach composed many oratorios—from his Easter Oratorio to his St. Matthew and St. John Passions—that became the bedrock of the modern classical music canon. One of his most celebrated of the genre is his 1734 masterpiece Christmas Oratorio, comprised of six cantatas based on the Gospels of St. Luke and St. Matthew. Each cantata was composed for a church service on one of the Sundays of the Christmas season, and over the course of the cantatas, recitatives recounting the stories of Jesus' nativity and episodes in his young life are interspersed with arias and choruses commenting on and reinforcing the messages of the gospels.

The performance seen here represents a truly masterful rendition of Bach's Christmas Oratorio. Herreweghe's internationally-renowned Collegium Vocale Gent is composed of young musicians united in their commitment to historically-informed interpretation of vocal music, and their resulting focus on the text and on rhetoric gives incredibly clarity and life to the performance. A beautiful evening featuring some of the greatest and most touching music of the Western classical repertoire!

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