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THE WIRELESS CHORUS (Chorus Master, STAN
THE WIRELESS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, conducted by STANFORD ROBINSON pHRISTMAS must have been a real time of joy to Bach, the devout Lutheran, and in his Christmas Oratorio (the only big choral work written specifically for Christmas) he expresses all the various emotions which we experience at this season. Never absent long is the spirit of exultation and deeply-felt re- joicing with which the work begins and ends. But there are also less confident thoughts, almost forebodings, of the coming of the Saviour
,and His life and death; arid the abundance of wistful, tender feelings towards the Child Christ make, perhaps, the greatest appeal of all.
Bach wrote his Christinas Oratorio in six separate parts, to be performed on various days of the old German Festival, but nowadays it is often given (as at this performance) as a whole.
Apart from the Orchestra (whose use is full of delightful touches) there are two main groups of performers. The SOLOISTS (Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass) sing the story as found in the Second Chapters of St. Matthew's and St. Luke's Gospels. The Tenor, as ' The Evangelist,' has the greatest share of this task, binding the parts into a whole.
Both Choir and SOLOISTS sing commentaries and meditations on the story. The Choir also sings the old Lutheran ' Chorales,' sometimes in their plain hymn-tune form (but in Bach's settings), sometimes with elaboration, with, for instance, orchestral interludes between each of the lines of the Tune. '
After the inspiriting opening Chorus, ' Chris" tians be joyful,' the First Part meditates on the scenes of the Birth. At the end, one of the most splendid of all Bass Solos, ' Mighty Lord, and King all glorious ' has the thought ' In a lowly manger lieth,' and leads to the beautiful Chorale, Ali ! dearest Jesus, Holy Child.'
The Second Part treats of the vision of the shepherds. It starts with the idyllic PASTORAL SYMPHONY, with its' quartet of Oboes, leads through the angel's message of the Babe lying in a manger, to perhaps the tenderest CRADLE SONG ever written, and ends with the resounding praises of the host of angels.
This Part tells of the visit to Bethlehem of the shepherds, and of their worshipping.
The Fourth Part was written for New Year's
Day, and is, accordingly, a meditation for the Festival of the Circumcision.
There is first a prolonged outburst of praise in the opening Chorus, ' Glory be to God.' Then follow the enquiries of the wise men from the East. Their urgent questionings, ' Where is the new-born King of the Jews ? ' are set very realistically for Chorus. Herod's investigations follow.
After the opening Chorus, ' Lord, when our haughty foes assail us,' the story continues -with Herod's summoning of the wise men, with their following the star, bringing their treasures and worshipping Jesus, and ends with their frustration of Herod.
[The words of Bach's Christmas Oratorio' will be found on pages 752 and 772.]
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