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Jonathan Freeman-Attwood
Gramophone, December 2014

…the Evangelist, Christoph Genz, sings without any music and tells the story without flinching. A documentary on local Bachiana is an enjoyable bonus. © 2014 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Brian Robins
Fanfare, November 2006

Eliot Gardiner’s Bach Christmas Oratorio, a joyous, life-giving experience that I hope will play a part in many a Christmas celebration this year.

To read the complete review, please visit Fanfare online.

Scott Cantrell
The Dallas Morning News, December 2005

BACH PILGRIMAGE: Recorded in a smallish church in Weimar, Germany, this was one of a whole series of Bach cantata performances John Eliot Gardiner presented in Germany during 2000, the 250th anniversary of the composer's death. The second disc includes a documentary, with visits to churches Bach knew.

SETTING THE MOOD: The "Christmas Oratorio" is actually a set of six cantatas, each for a different day during the Christmas season, and each has its own sound world. Trumpets and drums set a celebratory tone for the first cantata; pairs of rustic oboes d'amore and oboes da caccia evoke the shepherds in the second.

INVIGORATING: These are lively performances in the modern/historically informed manner; appropriately, the music never feels far from the dance. The period-instruments chamber orchestra plays fabulously, even the valveless trumpets and horns apparently posing no challenges. The 20-voice choir is superb, too. Occasionally, though – as in the opening chorus of cantata five and the tenor aria in cantata four – Mr. Gardiner pushes tempos into breathlessness.

SOLOISTS: Christoph Genz is a dream Evangelist, his tenor sweetly liquescent, his delivery vivid; too bad Mr. Gardiner so harries him in "Ich will nur dir zu Ehren leben." Baritone Dietrich Henschel sings handsomely when he doesn't overdo the bluster. Claron McFadden is a fetching soprano soloist; mezzo Bernarda Fink is OK, but the beat in her voice can be a little obtrusive.

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7:18:51 PM, 24 May 2016
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