Jan Willem de Vriend shares his thoughts on the Christmas Oratorio:
“The Combattimento Consort Amsterdam has always performed the complete Christmas Oratorio with only two exceptions. On these two occasions the concert hall did not want a complete performance and the choice was left to us which movements to leave out. However, this is in fact an impossible choice, as in my view the work forms a single entity.
So, it has happened on occasion that we have performed four cantatas. And even though prior to the concert we thought that on the one hand it would be fine to finish earlier, as it turned out – and I think I can speak for all my colleagues – after the performance we felt it a great pity, not to have included those two cantatas. During a performance of the complete cycle, we have become accustomed to pausing between each cantata, to insert just a short break of around five minutes before beginning the following cantata. Incidentally, this is just one of the ways to divide up the work; I could also imagine that the cycle could be spread out, that one decides: “This morning I will perform one, then this evening another, with another cantata the following day.”
Nevertheless, the point is that even when a performance is spread out over several days, as happened in Bach’s time, the work continues to function as a unified whole. I am absolutely convinced that the churchgoers of the time had a far greater retention of the music, that the music remained more firmly entrenched in their memory until the following church service. Just compare how it is these days. After the concert, you may be sitting in your car and you switch on the radio to hear if there are any traffic jams reported, so you keep hearing fragments of music and because of this a large part of your recent musical experience is erased.
I am glad that after performing a work it stays in my head for some time. This was much more often the case in those days. As far as this is concerned, the effect of such a cantata would have been far stronger and of longer duration back then. Something similar also applies in the case of the various tonalities. Since even temperament was nowhere near as widely in use in those days, a much greater differentiation was experienced between the various keys with their individual characteristics. With the advent of modern tuning, this entire sensibility to the different keys has vanished.”
Total time: 02:18:13
|Original Recording Format|
Bert van der Wolf
Waalse Kerk Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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|Release Date||March 3, 2016|
“Jan Willem de Vriend oversees a joyful account of Bach’s festive music with light-footed responses to dance rhythms. I can whole heartedly commend this issue for its expressive warmth, its disciplined choral singing and its natural declamation.”
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