Another Christmas classic today. Bach pokes his head out of our Advent Calendar door on day 16.
We all have our own Christmas traditions, some quirkier than others no doubt, but mine has remained steadfast for as long as I can remember.
Often to the annoyance of other family members, and a parade of long-suffering housemates over the years, I have never wavered in my insistence of playing the opening chorus of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio as loud as possible on Christmas morning, before even popping the first pod into the Nespresso machine or checking if Santa Claus has been.
Why? Well for me its sheer exuberance and joy is matchless. From the opening salvo on the kettle drums, the braying trumpets and the unison entry of the choir: “Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage/Celebrate, rejoice, rise up and praise these days”, Bach takes us on an unbridled rollercoaster of excitement and elation. It’s a fitting start, no – the only way to start Christmas Day.
There are so many good recordings, but to get the full sonic effect you have to listen to it on period instruments, as modern-day timpani and trumpets just don’t cut the mustard. Try Jacobs, Herreweghe, Koopman, or indeed our very own John Eliot Gardiner – here with the Monteverdi Choir.