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Bach: Christmas Oratorio / Wilhelm, Stuttgart Hymnus Chorknaben


Release Date: 09/28/2010 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 98622   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Gisela PohlKrisztina LákiKarl MarkusBerthold Possemeyer
Conductor:  Gerhard Wilhelm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Hymnus Boys ChoirEnsemble 76
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



BACH Christmas Oratorio Gerhard Wilhelm (cond); Krisztina Laki (sop); Gisela Pohl (alt); Karl Markus (ten); Berthold Possemeyer (bs); Stuttgarter Hymnus-Chorknaben; Ens ’76 Stuttgart HÄNSSLER 98.622 (3 CDs: 156:51 Text and Translation)


By an unlikely coincidence I happened upon an advertisement touting this release with an undated blurb from the Esslinger Zeitung : “With nearly a hundred youthful voices joined in song, Read more Bach’s Christmas Oratorio never sounded more radiant.” I’m not sure whether that is still a valuable selling point now that “smaller is better” seems to be the motto for Bach performances. Never fear. It also happens that the LP version of this recording, sent to me for my consideration a quarter century ago ( Fanfare 9:5), bore a photo of the Stuttgarter Hymnus Chorknaben in action, and by actual count there were only 60 singers in the choir at the time. But they were all youthful—and male. And, come to think of it, they did sound collectively radiant.


Our expectations have changed since this recording was made in 1983, and while there are those of us who remain unconvinced by the new minimalist dogma, we do recognize that this performance does not accurately replicate Bach’s own. Nonetheless, Hymnus-Chorknaben does represent a longstanding tradition of its own—the boy choir—that antedates Bach’s time. Obviously that tradition evolved over the centuries, but this performance is a testament to its enduring status in the latter part of the 20th century. The choir—boys and young men—was superbly trained and attentive, and it did produce that marvelous cathedral sound. The four soloists, though not as well known in America as in Europe, had distinguished careers, often singing Bach’s music. Karl Markus was a worthy Evangelist, and Krisztina Laki was particularly impressive in her solos. Gerhard Wilhelm, who directed the choir for 40 years before retiring in 1987, fashioned a performance that is traditional in the best sense—attentive to detail but never short on vitality. For listeners who are so inclined, this is a Christmas Oratorio that they can live with very comfortably. For listeners who prefer period instruments and all that goes with them, Gardiner’s Archiv version, made just four years after Wilhelm’s, still holds up well.


FANFARE: George Chien
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Gisela Pohl (Alto), Krisztina Láki (Soprano), Karl Markus (Tenor),
Berthold Possemeyer (Bass)
Conductor:  Gerhard Wilhelm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Hymnus Boys Choir,  Ensemble 76
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1734-1735; Leipzig, Germany 

Sound Samples

Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part I: Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage ... (Chorus)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part I: Recitative: Es begab sich aber zu der Zeit ... (Evangelist)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part I: Recitative: Nun wird mein liebster Brautigam ... (Alto)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part I: Aria: Bereite dich, Zion, mit zartlichen Trieben ... (Alto)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part I: Chorale: Wie soll ich dich empfangen (Chorus)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part I: Chorale and Recitative: Er ist auf Erden kommen arm, Wer will die Liebe recht erhohn ... (Soprano, Bass)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part I: Aria: Grosser Herr, o starker Konig ... (Bass)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part I: Chorale: Ach, mein herzliebes Jesulein ... (Chorus)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part II: Sinfonia
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part II: Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend ... (Evangelist)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part II: Chorale: Brich an, o schones Morgenlicht ... (Chorus)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part II: Und der Engel sprach zu ihnen, Furchtet euch nicht ... (Evangelist)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part II: Recitative: Was Gott dem Abraham verheissen ... (Bass)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part II: Aria: Frohe Hirten, eilt, ach eilet ... (Tenor)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part II: Chorale: Schaut hin, dort liegt im finstern Stall ... (Chorus)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part II: Recitative: So geht denn hin, ihr Hirten, geht ... (Bass)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part II: Aria: Schlafe, mein Liebster, geniesse der Ruh ... (Alto)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part II: Ehre sei Gott in der Hohe ... (Chorus)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part II: Chorale: Wir singen dir in deinem Heer ... (Chorus)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part III: Herrscher des Himmels, erhore das Lallen ... (Chorus)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part III: Lasset uns nun gehen gen Bethlehem ... (Chorus)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part III: Recitative: Er hat sein Volk getrost ... (Bass)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part III: Chorale: Dies hat er alles uns getan ... (Chorus)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part III: Aria (Duet): Herr, dein Mitleid, dein Erbarmen ... (Soprano, Bass)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part III: Und sie kamen eilend ... (Evangelist)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part III: Aria: Schliesse, mein Herze, dies selige Wunder ... (Alto)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part III: Recitative: Ja, ja, mein Herz soll es bewahren ... (Alto)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part III: Choral: Ich will dich mit Fleiss bewahren ... (Chrous)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part III: Und die Hirten kehrten wieder um ... (Evangelist)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part III: Choral: Seid froh dieweil, dass euer Heil ... (Chorus)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part III: Chorus: Herrscher des Himmels, erhore das Lallen
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part IV: Fallt mit Danken, fallt mit Loben ... (Chorus)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part IV: Und da acht Tage um waren ... (Evangelist)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part IV: Recitative with Chorale: Immanuel, o susses Wort (Bass, Soprano)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part IV: Aria: Flosst, mein Heiland, flosst dein Namen ... (Soprano)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part IV: Recitative with Chorale: Wohlan, dein Name soll allein (Soprano, Bass)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part IV: Aria: Ich will nur dir zu Ehren leben ... (Tenor)
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Part IV: Chorale: Jesus richte mein Beginnen ... (Chorus)

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