The Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) is unique. Rather than a single work, Bach wrote six separate cantatas to be performed between Christmas Day and Epiphany. Although each of the cantatas uses a different instrumentation, today, the piece is often performed as a whole or in two parts.
Bach performed the first cantata twice in Leipzig on December 25, 1734: early in the morning at St. Nicholas Church and, again, in the afternoon at St. Thomas Church. This part, describing the birth of Jesus, is scored for chorus and a festive instrumental ensemble consisting of three trumpets, timpani, two transverse flutes, two oboes, two oboes d’amore, two violins, viola and continuo!
Enjoy this stellar recording of Cantatas 1-3 with Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting the Concentus Musicus Wien with Peter Schreier, tenor, Robert Holl, bass and soloists of the Tolzer Knabenchor.