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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Christen, ätzet diesen Tag (Christians, engrave this day)

Cantata 63

  • Christmas Day
  • Epistle: Titus ii. 11-14 (The grace of God appeared to me)
  • Gospel: Luke ii. 1-14 (The Nativity of Christ)
  • Rating: 1

A joyous cantata, as befits the season! The very large orchestra begins the first chorus with a festive flourish. One could imagine this piece being performed out of doors a la Royal Fireworks Music and the choir joins in at the same high level of energy. A lengthy alto recitative follows and this itself leads into a delightful duet between soprano and bass (a combination at which Bach excels) which is introduced by a gorgeously sinuous oboe line. A further recitative leads to a second duet, this time between alto and tenor. The orchestral strings provide the very attractive accompaniment. Another recitative and then the full orchestra is roused again for another high octane chorus. Simple straightforward and attractive. Bach himself seems to have been fond of this work (or at least found it useful), revising and reviving it a number of times.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.