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  • Bach - Christmas Oratorio
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Bach - Christmas Oratorio

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Product Details

  • Actors: Bernarda Fink, Claron McFadden, Dietrich Henschel, Christoph Genz, Monteverdi Opera Choir
  • Format: Classical, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 5.1), German (DTS 5.1), German (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: German, English, Japanese, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Alliance
  • DVD Release Date: November 15, 2005
  • Run Time: 198 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BK536A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,405 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Sir John Eliot Gardiner directs the the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists.

Customer Reviews

>Gulp!< All funny business aside, enjoy and Happy Holidays!!
Vegan Daddy
And as if that wasn't enough, you get a couple of bonus documentaries, which gives you Gardiner's insight into the work and to the Cantata Pilgrimage.
Intangibles: Gardiner is very persuasive in his enthusiasm for what he was doing, about Bach, and his pleasure in performing Bach.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
As most music-lovers know, John Eliot Gardiner gave himself the remarkable task of performing and recording all of Bach's sacred choral/orchestral works in one year, going from church to cathedral to kirk throughout Europe. Not only that, he and the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists did the entire church calendar of cantatas on the Sundays for which they were intended. And, when the original recording company pulled out of the project, he arranged to bring out all the cantatas on his own label. Those CDs have just started being released. Some (perhaps all - I'm frankly not sure) of the performances were also filmed for release on DVD. The very first performance, done late in 1999, was this one of the Christmas Oratorio (Weinachtsoratorium) at the Herderkirche in Weimar, where Bach lived early in his career. The oratorio is a collection of six cantatas; it is not clear whether he intended them to be performed all together, or on each of six feast days between Christmas and Epiphany. Be that as it may, this performance of all six took place before a gala audience and this DVD, beautifully filmed and recorded, is a record of that event. The soloists are American soprano Claron McFadden, the glorious alto Bernarda Fink, the young tenor Christoph Genz as the Evangelist, and bass Dietrich Henschel who seems to be singing everywhere these days (I just reviewed a DVD of Strauss's 'Capriccio' in which he performed the Count).

Not enough good can be said of the performances of the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists, Gardiner's musical colleagues of over twenty years. I was particularly struck by the sensation playing of the woodwind players (baroque instruments, of course) and the valveless trumpets.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Vegan Daddy on December 18, 2005
Format: DVD
Gardiner is REALLY on top of this oratorio! The singing, playing, location is all superb and meticulous. He has also done well to hire a trumpet section that is, well not to offend any, NOT British. Playing the first (uncredited) trumpet parts on this DVD are none other than world reknown Baroque trumpeter, Niklas Eklund (see his Art of the Baroque Trumpet Vols 1-5 available on Naxos). Now, to defend my comment of the British, Eklund is Swedish and performs on a 3-hole short model Baroque trumpet (whereas the British perform almost exclusively on 4-hole long trumpets). What exactly does this mean to the average listener? Take any of Gardiner's Bach cantata recordings and hear those really WAVY trills played by the trumpeters (usually Mark Bennett or Crispian Steele-Perkins)- achievable but not really how they should sound. Eklund executes the trills here properly and beautifully (as it is very hard to over trill on the 3-hole instrument). This DVD recording contains some of the most spectacular trumpet playing one will ever see. Eklund is marvelous.

I do have one complaint about the recording, in the opening Coro, the timpani rolls makes the microphones delay on picking up sound.

Okay, so there is more to this beloved cantata than the also beloved trumpet parts in the opening Coro, the Grosser Herr Aria and the many others. But like my fellow reviewer has mentioned, I cannot recommend this visual recording enough.

***:) A funny note about Gardiner and Eklund - Gardiner fired Eklund later. I've heard rumours Eklund didn't think too highly of Gardiner either. It is to my understanding, Gardiner has a difficult time with trumpeters. This can be seen in the DVD "In Rehearsal with John Eliot Gardiner (BWV 63)". Also, from personal conversations with trumpeter Crispian Steele-Perkins, I'd been told of threats to "insert his horn into him." >Gulp!<

All funny business aside, enjoy and Happy Holidays!!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Teemacs on October 11, 2006
Format: DVD
This was the kick-off concert for the 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage. Formerly, I regarded Gardiner's CD version of the Christmas Oratorio as the best, but this one is better. Perhaps it's the joy of seeing a crack ensemble at work or Gardiner having an absolute ball (he clearly loves the work). I know audiophiles who stop watching after about 10 minutes and just listen, but for me there's a real fascination of watching it all happen in front of you and marvelling that one single man wrote all this magnificence. You come away admiring Gardiner, you come away totally in awe of Johann Sebastian Bach.

The Weihnachtsoratorium is not really an oratorio in the traditional sense but a series of six cantatas, one per day for each of the days of the Lutheran Christmas celebration. Bach, frequently under pressure, plagiarised much of his own work for themes - the music for opening chorale and the marvellous bass aria "Grosser Herr und starker König" of Cantata 1 are lifted from a secular cantata, and Mary's cradle song in Cantata 2 is taken from a seduction song in another secular cantata! But this was standard practice in those days, when the gulf between "sacred" and "secular" music was not so wide, and such is the genius of Bach that it all fits together beautifully. In addition, the great Hassler chorale melody "O, Sacred head", featured in the St. Matthew Passion, appears twice, including as a bright, bouncy concluding chorale at the end of cantata 6 - with a deep spiritual awareness, Bach was already looking forward to Easter at Christmas.

The soloists are great, ditto the English Baroque Soloists, but the stars of the show are, as so often, the Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner's precision instrument and apparently capable of miracles on command.
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