Perhaps only second to Handel's Messiah
is J.S. Bach's Weinachtsoratorium
, BWV 248, in a list of favorite baroque Christmas offerings. This performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio
took place in audience with and honor of His Holiness, Benedict XVI at the Sistine Chapel, December 4, 2009. A Munchen band, playing for a Munchen Priest, in the center of Catholic Christendom.
Bach was a providential Lutheran who composed Sole Deo Gloria
, no matter what Church employed him. He took his Christmas Oratorio
seriously, infusing a simple and joyful pageantry in his homage to the King of Kings. The opening salvo of Christmas Oratorio
: "Chorus: Rejoice, rejoice upon, praise the day" has an almost rustic, festival feeling not unlike Claudio Monteverdi's introduction to his famous Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610
(Vespers for the Blessed Virgin, 1610
; SV 206 and 206a). Banging drums and tweeting Baroque flutes and natural horns frame Bach's setting of Psalm 118:24"Rejoice and be glad! Come praise the days! Glorify what the Highest has done this day..." there are no quaking shepherds here, only joyful noise.
Maestro Reinhardt Kammler conducts the all-boys choir Augsburger Domsingknabe to perfection in front of the modern instrument Residenz-Kammerorchester Munche. In keeping with kapellmeister duties, this boy chorus lends authenticity to the performance that could have only been improved with the use of period instruments. While that is debatable, the performance is appropriate and apt for the season.