J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio was written for the Christmas season of 1734, and although it incorporates music from earlier works it belongs firmly among his timeless large-scale compositions. The development of the oratorio, which was to become a new musical form in Protestant church services at that time, was stimulated by Bach’s compositions, particularly by the unusual form of his six-part Christmas Oratorio. From its famously joyful opening ‘Jauchzet frohlocket’ to the arrival of the Wise Men from the East, this work’s enduring popularity has long proven its status as a choral ‘evergreen.’
The Vowel- ensemble Frankfurt must certainly be invited to the Top ensembles in the choral field can be counted. Besides perfect intonation, homogeneous choir sound and very good text processing constancy touches particularly pleasantly a beautiful, round, soft and completely natural- …light-sounding phrasing.
Continuing to work with Conny Plank, who once again provides a compelling job as producer and engineer, Kraftwerk went right ahead and named their new album after their two remaining members – an understandable enough move. Like the first two albums, Ralf and Florian still has not seen official re-release, for all that one can practically taste Kraftwerk's leap into the beyond on it. Given that this was the last album before the most famous lineup was formed and Autobahn was released, it's appropriate to listen to Ralf and Florian as a harbinger for the future, though perhaps all too easy. Take it on its own terms – a further investigation of electronic possibilities in a more open-ended, less constantly structured fashion than would be the case later – and Ralf and Florian becomes most enjoyable.
Johann Sebastian Bach’s St Matthew Passion is widely recognised as one of the greatest masterpieces in Western sacred music. With its double orchestra and chorus this is a work of enormous proportions in every sense, and Bach was extremely resourceful in treading a fine line between creating the almost operatic spectacle valued by the secular authorities in Leipzig, and the elevated religious atmosphere sought by the clergy. This inspired mix of moving drama and theological discourse led Leonard Bernstein to declare that ‘there is nothing like it in all of music’.
The stellar cast of this popular opera includes superb singers as well as excellent actors like Kathleen Battle, Leo Nucci, Rockwell Blake, Ferruccio Furlanetto and Enza Dara
Critical praise for this production: “One of [the Met’s] most ingenious stagings in recent years…made to order for a great Rossini ensemble” (New York Times ) – and for this ensemble: “Battle’s coloratura flowed with astonishing ease and grace, beautifully varied in color” (New York Times). “Alongside Battle’s stunning Rosina, the cast is close to ideal…Blake’s Almaviva is extraordinary…Nucci is a remarkable Figaro…Furlanetto makes a formidable Basilio, Dara an irresistible Bartolo” (Répertoire)
From the face of it, Aulis Sallinen's interest in composing chamber music drops off precipitously in the mid-'80s as his symphonies and operas began to take hold in the international market. This would be a pity if it were entirely true, as it was through the chamber music medium that Sallinen made his initial reputation through such masterpieces as the String Quartets No. 3 ("Some Aspects of Peltoniemi Hintrik's Funeral March"), No. 4 ("Quiet Songs"), and the cello solo Elegy for Sebastian Knight. CPO's Aulis Sallinen: Chamber Musics III, IV, V, performed by members of the Virtuosi di Kuhmo under the general direction of pianist Ralf Gothóni, makes clear that Sallinen's later chamber music is not so much absent as it is in hiding, disguised as concertante works for soloist and string orchestra.
Johann Sebastian Bach’s St John Passion is, along with the St Matthew Passion, without doubt one of the most important works he ever composed. It established a new tradition for Good Friday vespers in Leipzig, and with sublime skill Bach managed to retain a spirit of church worship while creating an almost operatic narrative that movingly depicts Christ’s trial, death, and ultimate apotheosis. Bach’s numerous revisions always demand a certain amount of scholarly decision-making, and this recording of the St John Passion uses the final 1749 version that not only draws on and reinforces the best of Bach’s original concept, but incorporates the additional movements of the 1725 version.