The Christmas Oratorio (German: Weihnachts-Oratorium) BWV 248, is an oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach intended for performance in church during the Christmas season. It was written for the Christmas season of 1734 incorporating music from earlier compositions, including three secular cantatas written during 1733 and 1734 and a now lost church cantata, BWV 248a. The date is confirmed in Bach's autograph manuscript. The next performance was not until 17 December 1857 by the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin under Eduard Grell. The Christmas Oratorio is a particularly sophisticated example of parody music. The author of the text is unknown, although a likely collaborator was Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander).
Helmuth Rilling is an excellent conductor and interpreter of Bach's sacred music. Recorded from 1969 to 1985, over a longer period of time than most other sets, there is a lot of change throughout the series. Rilling's recordings are more dense and lush than others, and his tempi are often slower than HIP recordings - no "original instruments" for Rilling. But he creates such a detailed sound-world that any fan of these works should want to hear Rilling's versions to compare with others. This said, Rilling often uses a technique that I find a bit disturbing. He'll have one instrument or group of instruments sequestered to one track, and others on the other track, giving a sound similar to that of early Beatles' stereo mixes, where vocals were on one track and instruments on the other. This is something you never hear in live performance; while one instrument may be on one side, you still hear it on the other side. This tends to make some of the movements sound as though there's no blend among the singers and musicians.(Kirk McElhearn)
… Born in 1933 in Stuttgart, Germany, Helmuth Rilling is an active conductor, pedagogue and ambassador for the music of Bach worldwide. From 1970 to 1984, Mr. Rilling was the first musician to record all of Bach's Cantatas, and was the guiding hand behind the Internationale Bachakademie's critically-acclaimed project to record the complete works of Bach (172 CDs), which was released in 2000 to coincide with the 250th Anniversary of Bach's death. Since 1970, he has been the Artistic Director of the Oregon Bach Festival. In 2003 he became an Honorary Member of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences. He won a Grammy® Award in 2000 for his recording of Krzystof Penderecki's “Credo” and was again nominated in 2001 for his recording of Wolfgang Rihm's "Deus Passus." In 2008, he was honored with the Sanford Award by the Yale School of Music at Yale University…
Warner Classics presents Best of Bach, a spirited selection of works by Bach, both choral and instrumental, performed by some of Warner Classics's most highly acclaimed artists…amazon.co.uk
Für den kaiserlichen Gesandten in Dresden, Hermann Graf Keyserlingk, sollen die Goldberg-Variationen entstanden sein. Der Graf habe, wie Bach-Biograph Nikolaus Forkel schreibt, die Musik bei Bach bestellt in der Hoffnung, „daß er dadurch in seinen schlaflosen Nächten ein wenig aufgeheitert werden könnte.“ Diese Bearbeitung der Goldberg-Variationen für zwei Gamben setzt die Reihe der schon bestehenden Transkriptionen fort.