Johann Sebastian Bach: Weihnachtsoratorium, BWV248 (1734 - 1735)
Profane birthday cantatas are said to be the basis for Bach's 'Christmas Oratorio'. Some critics pan it as a "stopgap work born of deadline stress". Others point to the historical context of consumption: such profane, occasional compositions were, by definition, destined for a short life; by interweaving them with new material to produce religious works with a broader basis, Bach was at least able to save some of those expensive sheets of manuscript paper.
The 'Christmas Oratorio' in any case pushed the art of parody to new heights. In a work of six semi-linked sections, intended for the feast days between Christmas and Twelfth Night, Bach unfolds a persuasive narrative carried by the evangelist.
Collegium Vocale Gent
Philippe Herreweghe, conductor
Dorothee Mields, soprano
Damien Guillon, contertenor
Thomas Hobbs, tenor
Peter Kooij, bass