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Bach: Christmas oratorio


  • Sunday December 11th 2022
  • Royal Chapel
  • 2pm | 3h30 with intermission
Homepage Bach: Christmas oratorio 2022


Monteverdi Choir

English Baroque Soloists

John Eliot Gardiner Conductor



Bach composed his Christmas Oratorio in 1734 in Leipzig, consisting of six cantatas for the three days of Christmas celebrations linked to the birth of Christ, and for the three ceremonies at the beginning of the year: the Circumcision of Christ, the First Sunday and Epiphany. In these six brilliant cantatas, full of life and enthusiasm, this work magnifies the alternation of the great choirs typical of Bach’s choral art and the solo arias telling the moving and marvellous story of the Nativity and the recognition of Christ’s divinity by the shepherds and the Magi.

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The first cantata describes the birth of Jesus, the second the Annunciation, the third the Adoration of the Shepherds, the fourth the Name of Jesus, the fifth and sixth the story of the Three Wise Men. They were performed in their entirety in Leipzig’s Church of St Nicholas for their premiere, and Cantatas 1, 2, 4 and 6 were also performed in St Thomas’s Church: Bach performed them in the morning in one and in the afternoon in the other, for the enjoyment of as many of the faithful as possible.


Gathering an orchestra that is always lively and supportive of the musical narrative, armed with drums and trumpets for the glorious passages and the joy of the faithful, Bach dedicates some of his most beautiful arias to the soloists. The result is festive and striking, such is the overwhelming strength and precision of the Monteverdi Choir, under the inspired direction of John Eliot Gardiner: his interpretation should sound magnificent in the Royal Chapel.



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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)

Christmas oratorio, BWV 248

Cantata I

Cantata II

Cantata III

Cantata IV

Cantata V

Cantata VI

The Royal Chapel of the Château de Versailles

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