Bach: Weihnachtsoratorium - van Veldhoven

Bach: Weihnachtsoratorium - van Veldhoven

Channel Classics  CCS SA 20103 (2 discs)

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Vocal

Bach: Christmas Oratorio BWV 248

Johannette Zomer (soprano)
Annette Markert (alto)
Gerd Turk (tenor)
Peter Harvey (bass)
Netherlands Bach Society
Jos van Veldhoven (conductor)

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DSD recording
Reviews (1)

Review by John Broggio - December 3, 2006

For this classic seasonal work (only Handel's Messiah rivals this), Channel Classics have produced such a luxurious set on all levels that it may be safely be given as a gift (and not only to oneself!) Considering how plush every aspect of the presentation is, the actual asking price is a bargain - I do hope it is not costing Channel Classics too much in lost profit.

The colour booklet is laden with art from across the ages depicting various aspects of the Christmas story and is almost 200 pages in length. We are treated to an analysis of the Christmas story, Bach's music as well as the sung texts and descriptions of the Museum Catharijnconvent in Utrecht (from where the art is taken) & the Netherlands Bach Society plus the soloists. The fold-out disc carriers are similarly luxurious and all the components are packed into a sturdy velvet covered box.

All of this would, of course, be almost worthless if the musicianship didn't match the level of devotion shown in the physical presentation. Well, none of the effort has been wasted - from the opening martial notes of the first part to the concluding chorale of the sixth part the ear experiences a glimpse of musical and audio heaven.

Jos van Veldhoven directs the Netherlands Bach Society in wonderful and dynamic performances. The same energy and life-affirming musicality of Gardiner's Bach recordings are present but in much more detailed and beautiful sound. This is a purely natural joy that has moments of relaxation (but not scruffiness) where Gardiner sometimes succumbs to the need to be hyper-intense.

It would be invidious to single out individual contributions, so instead I will congratulate all the soloists (Johannette Zomer - soprano, Annette Markert - alto, Gerd Turk - tenor, Peter Harvey - bass), the chorus and orchestra that form the Netherlands Bach Society as well as Jos van Veldhoven for their individual and combined efforts in this great recording.

As we have come to expect, the recording is excellent from Jared Sacks and his team at Channel Classics - quite ideal and a model for all choral Bach recordings that employ a larger than a one or two voice-per-part chorus. The sense of positioning is tangible and the sound itself (not just the playing) is beautifully smooth.

In short, this is a desert island disc.


Copyright © 2006 John Broggio and


Sonics (Multichannel):

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