While Handel's Messiah rightly holds its place as this country's classical musical soundtrack for the holiday season (quibble if you will about its Easter message; there's nothing wrong with talking about Easter at Christmas - just ask Bach!), it's J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio that rings through concert halls throughout Europe at this time of the year.
The six cantatas that make up the Christmas Oratorio, meant to be performed on six separate days throughout the liturgical Christmas season, tell the Christmas story as only Bach could. With a combination of individual and communal perspective on both the joyful and meditative aspects of the season, it's a piece that always offers performers the chance to find new perspectives, angles, and ways of expressing eternal thoughts and feelings.
If you'd like to hear all six part of the Christmas Oratorio, in a terrific performance led by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, feel free to listen to them below.
Part 1 of the Christmas Oratorio (translation)
Part 2 of the Christmas Oratorio (translation)
Part 3 of the Christmas Oratorio (translation)
Part 4 of the Christmas Oratorio (translation)
Part 5 of the Christmas Oratorio (translation)
Part 6 of the Christmas Oratorio (translation)
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