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The most beautiful message

12/21/2005 -  
Johann Sebastian Bach:Christmas Oratorio BWV 248
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Simone Nold - soprano
Anette Markert - alt
Alexei Yundenkov - tenor
Georg Zeppenfeld - bass
Hansj÷rg Albrecht - organ, harpsichord
Peter Schreiter - tenor, conductor

Following the performance of St.Matthew's Passion in Spring 2005, Peter Schreier returned just before Christmas to conduct and sing in the Weihnachts-Oratorium . Appropriately, the perfomance included only the first three cantatas dedicated to the first three Christmas days. It is interesting to note that the work is not an original work, rather a compilation of many numbers from Bach's previous oeuvres. Nevertheless, it remains one of the gems of spiritual music and this performance was a rare possibility to hear it on stage. Schreier has been active on the stages of world's foremost opera houses for more than fourty years and he continues to be a most respectful conductor of Bach's work. His approach is very different from the historically authentic one but this performance showed that even a romantic approach can address the audience and convey the beautiful message of Bach's music. CPO players are no old music specialists which showed occassionally in the rather weak sound of the violins, the winds were however marvellous. Schreier brought to Prague his favorite cast of singers from Germany who were virtually unknown to the local audience. I was particularly impressed by the young bass Georg Zeppenfeld but the whole cast was excellent. It is hard to describe the warmth and lyrical expression of Peter Schreier in the role of the narrating Evangelist. He knows the piece perfectly and can therefore concentrate on impeccable details where his voice joyfully becomes a humble messenger of the most beautiful of all messages: In the town of Bethlehem, the Saviour was born. Allelujah!

Kvetoslav Krejci



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