Bach. Weihnachts-Oratorium

10 December, Saturday, 19:00
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Performed in German (the performance will have synchronised Russian supertitles)

Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio was first performed at the two main churches of Leipzig between 25 December 1734 and 6 January 1735. Several of its six movements were performed twice at that time – at the Thomaskirche and the Nikolaikirche. Nevertheless, Bach considered the oratorio to be a single opus. Its six movements are linked organically not just by their shared theme but musically as well. In the libretto Biblical quotations, passages from spiritual songs (Protestant chorales) and free "madrigal" verses sit side by side. The range of musical means in Christmas Oratorio s broader than in any of his cantatas, and even wider than in his Passions. Here there are two types of recitative, a duet and tercet, and in one of the arias there is an echo which comes in. Five of the six movements open with large choruses, the second commencing with a pastoral "symphony" imitating the music of shepherds. The orchestral techniques employed are continuously varied: from the thunderous solo of the kettledrums to the sharp quartet of oboes. Christmas Oratorio is Bach's own Ode to Joy, a joy almost unclouded, filled with fresh new colours and shades.

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