“Shout and exult!” Bach did not conceive the Christmas Oratorio as a work to be heard in a single performance. It was a collection of 6 cantatas – one for each feast day between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – displaying the composer’s unerring talent for harvesting and revivifying his own material. The piece suggests to the listener a spiritual journey from the Nativity to the Epiphany, and is full of wondrously memorable colour – from the trumpets and timpani depicting the infant king to the rustic lyricism of the flutes and oboes. It also shows Bach at his most utterly joyful, presenting the story of Christmas with music of luminous warmth and festive exuberance.
JS Bach – Christmas Oratorio (Cantatas 1, 4, 5, 6)