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For many, the Christmas holiday season would be incomplete without the resounding drum roll and trumpet fanfare that opens Bach’s “Oratorium auf die Heilige Weynacht” (“Oratorio for the holy Christmas”). Ever since it was first performed by the Thomaskantor between Christmas Day in 1734 and Epiphany 1735 in Leipzig’s two main churches of St. Thomas and St. Nikolai, Bach’s six part musical masterpiece has become a cornerstone of the city’s identity and musical heritage. The performance presented here, led by Bach’s 17th successor Gotthold Schwarz together with the Thomanerchor and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, features a lineup of renowned soloists, enabling one to experience the festive grandeur of what many consider the epitome of Christmas music in its original setting. “Gotthold Schwarz transforms this into a Christmas Oratorio that is far more than a sum of its parts… his musical rhetoric avoids cheap gimmicks and vain showmanship.” (Peter Korfmacher, LVZ)