Bach - Christmas Oratorio (2001)


The Netherlands Bach Society

Jos Van Veldhoven

Bachs Christmas Oratorio Johann Sebastian Bachs Oratorium Tempore Nativitatis Christi, a cycle of six cantatas for the Christmas season, had its collective premiere from Christmas Day 1734 through Epiphany Sunday 1735 in Leipzig. One of Bachs reasons for these performances was his search for a more permanent home for the music of three large-scale occasional works. The music involved was that of the three cantatas (Drammae per Musica) for members of the princely house of Saxony: Hercules auf der Scheidewege BWV 213 (September 1733) (Hercules at the Crossroads), written for the eleventh birthday of Prince Friedrich Christian of Saxony; Tnet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten! BWV 214 (December 1733) (Sound, ye drums! Burst forth, ye trumpets!), written for the birthday of Maria Josepha, Crown Princess of Saxony and Queen of Poland, and mother of Friedrich Christian; and Preise dein Glcke, gesegnetes Sachsen BWV 215 (October 1734) (Praise thy good fortune, o blessed Saxony), written for the first anniversary of the accession of Augustus II, Crown Prince of Saxony and King of Poland. These cantatas provide the lions share of the arias and choruses for the first four cantatas of the Christmas Oratorio. The fifth cantata, in contrast, is almost completely composed of original material, and the sixth is based as a whole on a single church cantata, which has not survived in its original form. The choice may well have been due to the fact that BWV 213-215, in a sense, comprised a sort of cyclic whole, making use of similar styles of text and music. But the most important reason for this large-scale parody composition was, of course, the musical quality and festive atmosphere of the three Saxon cantatas, which could easily be translated to the Christmas story. Bach commissioned his (unknown) librettist to rewrite the chorus and aria texts in such a way that this music could essentially be re-used unaltered, but as might be expected, he could not resist the temptation to introduce numerous improvements to the original compositions as he rewrote them. Bachs surviving clean final copy of the 1734 full score provides fascinating documentation for this process. He also had a handsome libretto printed separately, above all to make it clear to his fellow citizens of Leipzig and the audience that this was a major Oratorio, in spite of its performance being spread out over the course of six Sundays and two weeks. In later years, some have been uncomfortable with the secular origins of the Christmas Oratorio: the concept that music from a group of princely birthday cantatas could also serve to celebrate the birth of Christ was difficult to accept. But in the period before the Enlightenment, reigning heads of state were seen in a theological context: their office was conferred by God and was seen as completely separate from their physical bodies and good (or bad) deeds. For this reason, music written for these Kings was by its very definition highly suitable for the birthday of that other King, Christ, and most fit to sing the praises of the Ruler of the Heavens. Pieter Dirksen, 2002 Translation: David Shapero

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The Netherlands Bach Society

Founded in 1921, The Netherlands Bach Society is the oldest Early Music ensemble in the Netherlands, and possibly in the whole world. Yet along with the musicians, its artistic director Jos van Veldhoven is still continually in search of contemporary ways of presenting this music, whether it be the traditional performances of the St. Matthew Passion in Naarden, other works by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) or music by his predecessors, successors, contemporaries and fellow spirits.

The programmes are often compiled in an original way and thus give a refreshing view of the various musical styles from Schütz/Monteverdi to Haydn/Mozart, as well as of the central composer Bach himself. The flexibility of the ensemble makes it possible to perform works from the secular and sacred repertoires in a great variety of combinations of musicians. In the concerts, top priority is given to beauty, emotion, quality and authentic experience.

For a long time now, the activities of The Netherlands Bach Society have not been restricted to Naarden or Het Gooi, in the Netherlands. They are attracting growing national and international attention from large concert halls and important music festivals, and the ensemble increasingly plays the honourable role of cultural ambassador.

Besides working with principal conductor Jos van Veldhoven, The Netherlands Bach Society also performs with leading early music specialists from the Netherlands and abroad, such as Rinaldo Alessandrini, Peter Dijkstra, Richard Egarr, Gustav Leonhardt, Paul McCreesh, Lars Ulrik Mortensen and Masaaki Suzuki.

In order to reinforce the authentic experience, the concerts are supported where necessary by fringe programming, including introductions, workshops, exhibitions and book publications. Further emphasis is provided by the educational projects, which have also received several awards (e.g. Euro Media Award and the Classical Music Award from the Dutch Association of Theatres and Concert Halls (VSCD)).

The Netherlands Bach Society and Jos van Veldhoven have recorded several CDs for Channel Classics, including the Great Organ Mass with the organist Leo van Doeselaar and Bach's St. Matthew Passion. Illustrated editions of the Christmas Oratorio, the St. John Passion and the Mass in B minor have been published in collaboration with Museum Catharijneconvent.

Jos Van Veldhoven

Jos van Veldhoven studied musicology at Utrecht University, and choral and orchestral conducting at the Royal Conservatory in TheHague. He has been artistic director of TheNetherlands Bach Society since 1983, in which capacity he regularly directs performances at home and abroad of the major works of JohannSebastian Bach, his predecessors and contemporaries.Van Veldhoven also directs the UtrechtsBarok Consort, which he founded in 1976. With these ensembles he has made a great number of national and international radio, tv and cd The Netherlands Bach Society recordings, and has appeared in festivals in theNetherlands, Europe, the United States and Japan.Jos van Veldhoven is a frequent guest conductor with Dutch and foreign orchestras, including DasOrchester der Beethovenhalle Bonn, The TokyoPhilharmonic Orchestra, the Robert Schumann Philharmonie, the Essener Philharmoniker, theBrabant Orchestra and the Limburg SymphonyOrchestra. Since 2001 he has collaborated with director Dietrich Hilsdorf on a cycle of stage dHandel oratorios at the opera houses of Bonn,Chemnitz and Essen.Jos van Veldhoven has attracted frequent attention with performances of newly discovered repertoire within the realm of early music, including noteworthy performances of oratorios by Telemann and Graun, Vespers by Gastoldi,reconstructions of Bach’s St Mark Passion, theso-called Köthener Trauer-Music and many unknown seventeenth-century dialogues. VanVeldhoven has conducted many contemporary premieres of Baroque operas by composers including Mattheson, Keiser, Andrea, Bononcini,Legrenzi, Conti and Scarlatti.Jos van Veldhoven is professor of choral conducting at the Amsterdam Conservatory and theRoyal Conservatory in The Hague. In 2007 he was appointed Knight of the Order of the NetherlandsLion for his pioneering services to early music.

Johannette Zomer

After several years as a microbiologist, Dutch SopranoJohannette Zomer trained at the Sweelink Conservatorium,Amsterdam with Charles van Tassel. She currently studieswith Diane Forlano.Johannette made her opera debut as Tebaldo in Don Carlowith the Nationale Reisopera and has gone on to sing Belinda– Dido & Aeneas, La Musica & Euridice – L’Orfeo,Gassman’s Opera – Seria, Dalinda – Ariodante, Ilia – Idomeneo,Pamina – Die Zauberflöte and Amanda – Le GrandeMacabre for the company. She has also sung Oberto in Alcinaat the Komische Oper. On the concert platform she has aenviable reputation as a baroque specialist working with manyof the top conductors in the field such as Ton Koopman,Frans Bru?ggen, René Jacobs, Reinhardt Goebel and PaulMcCreesh as well as collaborating for 20th century and contemporaryrepertoire with Kent Nagano, Daniel Harding,Valery Gergiev, Reinbert de Leeuw and Peter Eötvös. Herrecent engagements have included Bach B Minor Mass with the Tonhalle Orchestra/Bru?ggen, and Euridice in Gluck’s Orfeo with the Bamberger Symfoniker/Christian Zacharias.She regularly gives recitals with fortepianist Arthur Schoonderwoerd with whom she has recordedSchubert Songs for Alpha Records and is a member of the early music ensembles Compania Vocale andAntequera with whom she sings Neapolitan and Spanish baroque repertoire and medieval Cantigas.Johannette’s recent and future plans include projects of Handel and Frank Martin with the RiasKammerchor/Daniel Reuss; Bach and Buxtehude with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra/Koopman,Handel with Collegium Vocale, Gent and Gluck and Buxtehude with The Netherlands Bach Soc

Annette Markert

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Bach - Christmas Oratorio (2001)


The Netherlands Bach Society

    Der Tagesspiegel

Daher mssen diesem Chor höchstes Lob gezollt werden: das ist eine Leistung der Superklasse! Nie bringt eine Stimmlage aus, nie gibt eine Stimme nach, die wirklich schnellen Koloraturen werden entwaffnend souverän gesungen, die Stimmen sitzen und sind ständig präsent, nie aufdringlich. Jos van Veldhoven: seine Interpretation ist eine der besten auf dem Gebiet der bislang eingespielten Bachschen Weihnachtsoratorien. diese Doppel-CD ist jedenfalls wärmstens zu empfehlen und kommt vor dem Weihnachtsfest gerade recht, um etwas abzuschalten. Toccata () Feststimmung fr Auge und Ohr.


Die edle Verpackung findet ihre feine Entsprechung im musikalischen Inhalt. Herausragender Klang, vorzüglich die Solisten, der Chor und das Orchester.


Solisten, Chor und Orchester interpretieren das beliebte Werk frisch und geradlinig, mit schlankem transparenten Klang, zudem rumlich gut abgebildet im mehrkanaligen SACD-Format.


Ce coffre témoigne dun effort editorial exceptionnel: glisse dans un beau fourreau en velours, ce double SACD hybride possède un magnifique livret cartonne de 190 pages, dot dune riche iconographie religieuse sur la nativité. (...) () 'interprtation de Jos van Veldhoven et de son ensemble sur instruments depoque est la hauteur de son emballage. () () Excellente prise de son, chaleureusement reverbre mais tres precise et detaille, rend les instruments tres presents, sans tre durs ou surexposa () () Trs belle version!!


Unusual distinguished instrumental playing () () Anyone who received it as a gift over the Christmas season has reason to feel very grateful indeed. Fanfare () extravagant choice for Christmas () The singing is casual, warm singing atmosphere () Arts & Entertainment () exceptional clarity, singing and playing with virtuoso exuberance () () This is one of the best performances in the Christmas Oratorio sweepstakes, but what puts it on top is its sound, which is so natural that I felt I could walk up to the speakers and touch the players and singers. () Impressionant! () () une realisation instrumentale de toute beaut () Crescendo (...) als bibliofiel en als audiofiel ben je verkocht voor de uitvoering en de opname. SACD Gids () Impressionnant!! () une realisation instrumentale de toute beaut qui met en valeur tant collectivement quindividuellement les instrumentistes de la Socit de Bach Nerlandaise. ()


this is one of those occasions where beauty and artistry are reflected not only on the surface but right through to the core. This is a marvelous performance of Bach's six-cantata cycle that offers ravishing choral singing, sharply detailed orchestral playing, and superior contributions from the four solo vocalists, all presented in state-of-the-art sound. ... Channel Classics and its partners have put together a potential classic, one that deserves not only to be held, but also to be heard. David Vernier/

    The Sunday Times.

The Dutch soprano Johannette Zomer, German alto and tenor, Annett Markert and Gerd Türk, and the British bass Peter Harvey all excellent. The performance is unfailingly stylish, moving in the retelling of the Nativity and appropriately joyful.


The deep red velours-covered box with gold lettering cries out: "Hold me, hold me!" () (.) this is one of the occasions where beauty and artistry are reflected not only in the surface but right to the core. A Marvellous performance of Bachs six cantata cycle that offers ravishing coral singing () () superior contributions from the four solo vocalists ()

    Klassieke Zaken

Koor en orkest musiceren gedreven en zijn prachtig van klank, prachtige zijden achtige strijkers en heldere, ronde blazers. () () Johannette Zomer krijgt een eervolle vermelding met haar bijzondere fraaie en heldere timbre () () deze produktie kan niet anders verwelkomd worden met een welgemeend en hartgrondig Jauchzet! en Frohlocket!

    BBC Music Magazine

A sumptuous Bach presentation from the Netherlands ... fresh voices and polished playing by the Netherlands Bach Society ... Excellend solists ...the sound-sepctrum is spacious but immediate


Bach blijft verbazen, zekerer als hij door de Nederlandse Bachvereniging - ovl Jos van Veldhoven, met solisten als de sopraan Johannette Zomer zo superieur wordt uitgevoerd.

    Dagblad de Limburger

King size solisten ... de nieuwste SACD techniek die het beeld bijzonder transparant en natuurlijk-warm kleurt ()


Schitterend is het boekwerkje bij de cd, met een weelde aan herders, Marias en kindje Jezus, uit de collectie van het Museum Catharijneconvent Jos van Veldhoven weet er veel boeiende aan toe te voegen, dankzij het feit dat hij de koorzang tot in de puntjes verzorgd houdt. Subtiel is de engelenzang

    The Absolute sound

The Best in New-Format Software October/November 2004

Bach - Christmas Oratorio (2001)


The Netherlands Bach Society

Cables: van den Hul
Digital Converters: Meitner DSD AD
Mastering Engineer: Jared Sacks
Mastering Equipment: B&W 803 Diamond series
Microphones: Bruel & Kjaer, Schoeps
Mixing Board: Rens Heijnis custom made
Producer: Jared Sacks
Recording Engineer: Jared Sacks
Recording location: Eindhovem Holland
Recording Software: Pyramix
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64
Speakers: AudioLab Holland

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Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage
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