Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Bach's "Christmas Oratorio," Abridged

The San Francisco Symphony began its month of Christmas themed concerts with a serious starter, an abridged English-language version of J.S. Bach's six cantatas written for performance over the 13-day Lutheran Feast of Christmas in 1734.

After spending a year listening to Bach's cantatas recently, I was looking forward to this concert tremendously, because just about all of Bach's 20 to 30 minute cantatas written for church services are superb, wonderful music, and the Christmas sextet are particularly buoyant and festive. Unfortunately, though the chorus was good and the Canadian contralto soloist Marie-Nicole Lemieux great, the other three soloists and the conducting by chorus director Ragnar Bohlin threatened to put me into a very deep sleep.

The pseudonymous Axel Feldheim (above) was similarly disappointed, and he wrote a concise description why at his "Not For Fun Only" blog. Check it out.

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