December 26, 2016. Christmas 2016. Merry Christmas to all our listeners! It's become a tradition to play excerpts from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio around this time. The Oratorio was written for the Christmas season of 1734, when Bach was the Cantor of the Thomasschule and the most important musician in Leipzig. The oratorio wasn’t completely original: it incorporated music from several previously written cantatas. The text was supplied by Picander, a poet, librettist and a frequent Bach collaborator. We've already played the complete Part I, which describes the birth of Jesus, the first movement (Sinfornia) of Part II (here) and the wonderful alto aria Schlafe, mein Liebster, genieße der Ruh (Sleep, my beloved, enjoy Your rest), here. The Second part was written for the second day of Christmas, or December 26th and describes the Annunciation to the Shepherds. On the day of the premier, it was actually performed twice: first, in the early morning of the 26th, in Thomaskirche, and in the afternoon – in the Nikolaikirche. The second part incorporates music from two cantatas, BWV 213 Laßt uns sorgen and BWV 214, Tönet, ihr Pauken! You can listen to the complete Part II of Christmas Oratorio here. It runs for about 27 minutes. John Eliot Gardiner conducts the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir. Bernarda Fink is the alto, Christoph Genz is the tenor.
The fresco above, Adoration of the child with St. Jerome, is by Pinturicchio. It’s located in the Della Rovere Chapel of the church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome. It was created in or around 1484, 150 years before the Oratorio.
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