Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a very respectable Christmas Oratorio, one that may have been forgotten by collectors--it is a reissue of an Erato production from 1984--but whose performances hold up very well against the later, first-class competition. The choir is exceptionally responsive, perfectly executing the punctuation and capturing the energetic pulse of the opening chorus. This enthusiasm and sensitivity to the varying musical details is consistent throughout, thanks to conductor Michel Corboz's expertly managed tempos and illustrative phrasing. The interior detail of the ensemble singing, including articulation of the text, is not correspondingly clear, obscured by engineering that delivers full, vibrant sound but not always the ideal ensemble
distinctness of more recent recordings.
The orchestra is first rate--a modern-instrument group that nevertheless plays with period-practice articulation and with obvious flair for Corboz's tempos and expressive concept. The trumpets are wonderfully bright and clear, the continuo perfectly balanced with the soloists in its many appearances. Soloists are generally very good, especially alto Carolyn Watkinson, who makes the very long aria "Schlafe, mein Liebster..." a timeless, sweet pleasure; the soprano/bass duet "Herr, dein Mitleid..." is another highlight, and tenor Kurt Equiluz makes an excellent Evangelist. I'm definitely not fond of bass Michel Brodard's (and occasionally Equiluz's) "ha-ha-ha" melismatic singing, which is particularly prominent in his "Großer Herr und starker König"; whether an affectation or a deficiency of technique, it's an irritating distraction. But you will likely forget this as soon as you hear the warmly, sensitively sung chorale that follows, or the beautifully played Sinfonia that begins Part 2. If you're in the market for a Christmas Oratorio, this one definitely warrants attention, especially at its budget price--a most welcome reissue.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Carolyn Watkinson (Alto),
Michel Brodard (Bass),
Kurt Equiluz (Tenor),
Barbara Schlick (Soprano)
Lausanne Vocal Ensemble,
Lausanne Chamber Orchestra
Written: 1734-1735; Leipzig, Germany
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