This program note of a performance of the Christmas Oratorio BWV 248, is well written and informative. Although it didn’t really attract my attention with the first sentence, starting off with a description of the events that are celebrated in the birth of Jesus. What did grab my attention is that the Christmas Oratorio is an all-time favourite of mine that led me to seek out and find this program note. There wasn’t any mention of an actual concert or performance dates though.
The notes do very well in mentioning information related to what the different parts of the oratorio are about, and where they fit in to the context of Bach and the Catholic religious events. One thing that was interesting is the fact that most of this work is taken from other cantatas, therefore providing a link that was interesting, which led to listening to the cantatas that were related to the oratorio (Latham, 2017.)
The program notes were successful in informing the reader what the Christmas Oratorio was written for, which was for the celebration of Christmas and the birth of Jesus. The descriptions of each different section (six in total) stated the purpose quite effectively with historical background which was relevant to the program notes.
The notes do rely on the reader to have some idea of the Catholic events that led up to Christmas and after. For someone who is not particularly religious or Catholic, the reader would probably wonder what such things like ‘Lent’ and ‘Epiphany’ are. These notes would be familiar to someone who follows the Catholic faith and has a background into more than just “Christmas is the birth of Jesus” (Spellman, 2016.)
From what I have heard of the Christmas Oratorio by a few different ensembles, I knew what sort of sound to expect. The descriptions of the sound were not too over the top and someone who has not heard it before would know what they are in for with these program notes. The meaning of the text and what it meant to Christmas was somewhat cleared up by the program notes which was interesting.
The program notes gave a god context into the relationship of the Christmas Oratorio with other cantatas that Bach wrote, and the context of the meaning of each section of the oratorio regarding religious events that were celebrated in Bach’s time to now.
A good accompaniment to the Christmas Oratorio.
Turner, Ryan and Smith, Craig. “Program Notes – J.S. Bach: Christmas Oratorio.” Accessed May 4, 2017. http://www.emmanuelmusic.org/notes_translations/program_notes/12-13/christmas_oratorio.htm.
Latham, Alison. “Christmas Oratorio.” The Oxford Companion to Music. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed May 4, 2017, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/opr/t114/e1389.
Spellman, C. The birth of the trinity: Jesus, god, and spirit in NT and early Christian interpretations of the OT. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 59(3), 655-658. 2016. https://search.proquest.com/docview/1855850012?accountid=8330.