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The six Bach cantatas we'll be looking at were written to correspond with the days of the Lutheran church year, and are collectively referred to as the "Christmas Oratorio". We start at the start, with Cantata No. 1--For the First Day of Christmas. We've got time to hear the whole cantata; none of the six cantatas lasts more than half an hour. This means that we have time at the end of each program to play some extra Bach tunes, such as this solo violin piece, Sonata No. 3 in C Major, part of a series of pieces written whilst Bach was working for a very austere church.
J.S. Bach: Cantata No. 1 from the Christmas Oratorio- For the 1st day of Christmas
Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists/Gardiner
24:33 Buy the CD
J.S. Bach: Sonata No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1005
Hilary Hahn, v.
25:09 Buy the CD
In this segment we begin with Cantata No. 2--for the 2nd Day of Christmas from Bach's Christmas Oratorio, which draws heavily from the Gospel of Luke and includes the oft-told story of the shepherds in the fields receiving an angelic surprise. The bonus Bach piece in this segment is Suite No. 3 in C Major, written for cello during a time that the cello was starting to replace the viol family of instruments.
J.S. Bach: Cantata No. 2 from the Christmas Oratorio (for the 2nd day of Christmas)
Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists/Gardiner
26:51 Buy the CD
J.S. Bach: Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1005
Pierre Fournier, vc.
22:54 Buy the CD
We start with the third part of Bach's Christmas Oratorio, Cantata No. 3 for the 3rd Day of Christmas. This music was first heard in the German city of Leipzig in 1734, just shy of 300 years ago. Afterwards, we have time for two extra Bach pieces, so we hear Orchestral Suite No. 2 and "Erfreute Zeit", from Cantata No. 83, not to be confused with the cantatas that make up the Christmas Oratorio.
J.S. Bach: Cantata No. 3 from the Christmas Oratorio (for the 3rd day of Christmas)
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir/Koopman; Larrson, s.; Von Magnus, a.; Pre-gardien, t.; Mertens, b.
22:13, 3:39 Buy the CD
J.S. Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 2, BWV 1067
Berlin Baroque Soloists/Kussmaul; Pahud, fl.
19:27 Buy the CD
J.S. Bach: “Erfreute Zeit” from Cantata No. 83
Venice Baroque Orch./Marcon; Kirchschlager, s.
6:47 Buy the CD
We begin with Cantata No. 4--for the 4th Day of Christmas from the Christmas Oratorio. This is the cantata intended for the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, and it sounds interestingly similar to some of the Brandenburg concertos, but it's not nearly as festive. Next is another pair of extra Bach pieces: Sonata No. 1 for Viola da Gamba & Keyboard, which has a very interesting story attached to its recording, and Passacaglia and Fugue in D minor, arranged by Stokowski for orchestra.
J.S. Bach: Cantata No. 4 from the Christmas Oratorio (for the 4th day of Christmas)
Rundfunkchor Leipzig & Staatskapelle Dresden/Schreier
22:44 Buy the CD
J.S. Bach: Sonata No. 1 for Viola da Gamba & Keyboard, BWV 1027
Rose, vc. Gould, p.
13:04 Buy the CD
J.S. Bach/arr. Stokowski: Passacaglia and fugue in d minor, BWV 565
Stokowski Symphony Orchestra
13:39 Buy the CD
Well, we've only one segment left but two Cantatas from Bach's Christmas Oratorio remain to be covered. Thankfully, we can fit both Cantata No. 5 and Cantata No. 6 into this segment all at once, and STILL have time to close out with the Concerto for Two Violins, second movement. It's all a wonderful way to spend the holidays, especially since it's something different from the Nutcracker or Messiah, which are holiday standards for a reason, but unfortunately seem to eclipse this wonderful piece of work.
J.S. Bach: Cantatas 5 & 6 from the Christmas Oratorio (For the 5th and 6th days of Christmas)
English Baroque Soloists & the Monteverdi Choir/Gardiner
21:18, 22:54 Buy the CD
J.S. Bach: Concerto for 2 Violins, BWV 1043, II
Academy of Ancient Music/Manze; Manze, Podger, vlns.
6:30 Buy the CD
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You have opened up the world of Classical Music to me, where previously, it seemed too complicated.
This is simply one of the very best radio programmes in the medium!...The study of the people, the times, and the events that inform the music we otherwise enjoy and even, heaven forbid, take for granted, brings the entire world of the music and the composer to life.
There isn't a program you broadcast on Exploring Music" that isn't of interest. I find them all engaging. It is a combination of variety of subject, intellectual curiosity and your obvious enthusiasm which characterize your satisfying programs.
It’s a great way to re-engage myself with consciousness before heading off to work.
I Love this program! I am in 7th grade and I am the complete opposite of the other kids. I am 4th chair in the orchestra and I love to read. But most of all, I LOVE classical music!
Your show has helped open my mind and heart to this world of music, and every show I hear confirms my place in music and gives me new ideas for where I'd like to go with it in the future….I grew up with classical music as a child and always held it in my heart, but I didn't have the confidence to be a good student (or a good violinist.)
Listening to you is almost interactive.You invite us in with so many well modulated dramatic and informative comments, enticing, enthusiastic interpretations, and coherent, beautiful presentations. It's a privilege to follow you into the musical space you create.
I just love this program. It is soothing and comfortable at the end of the day. I find his comments interesting, but they aren't so dragged out that there is very little music. The balance of both is just right.