Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Bach's Christmas Oratorio - Cantata 3

The third cantata of Bach's Christmas Oratorio - Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen (Lord of the heavens, hear our murmuring) - continues the story of the shepherds as they travel to and arrive in Bethlehem. This again has a gentle, pastoral feel. Here's Simon Crouch again:
The third part of the Christmas Oratorio sees the shepherds eventually arriving in Bethlehem but first, to introduce them, another fine chorus; this time borrowed from BWV 214/9. Absolutely glorious stuff! The first recitative sets the scene and the lively turba style chorus (not a parody) following sees them take the decision to go to Bethlehem. A further recitative is followed by a chorale and then a gentle duet (taken from BWV 213/11, where it is somewhat more erotic!) accompanied beautifully by a pair of oboe's d'amore. The evangelist tells us that they have seen the child and that they spread the news of His arrival. Mary's aria, which follows, is thought to be the only original aria in the Christmas Oratorio; it is a gentle and beautiful reflection on the miracle that has just taken place accompanied by solo violin. The cantata draws nearly to a close in relatively low key fashion with the pattern recitative-chorale-recitative-chorale, both chorale settings being straightforward. The opening chorus is then repeated as if a grand da capo.

Copyright © 1999, Simon Crouch.
We continue with the performance by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and the Norwegian Soloists' Choir under the direction of Peter Dijkstra. Enjoy!

Photo © 2008 by A. Roy Hilbinger       

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