Christmas Oratorio discography

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This article includes a list of commercial recordings of the Christmas Oratorio (Weihnachts-Oratorium), BWV 248, by Johann Sebastian Bach.


The first commercial recording of the Christmas Oratorio appeared in 1950,[1] and new versions have followed regularly. Many recorded versions feature musicians from German-speaking countries, where the work has become standard repertoire.

The early recordings use larger forces than Bach would have used when the work was premiered with the Thomanerchor in Leipzig in the 1734/35, when a boys' choir was accompanied by a comparatively small orchestra of Baroque instruments.

According to Gramophone, Nikolaus Harnoncourt's recording of 1972 was the first historically informed performance of the Christmas Oratorio.[1] Since the 1970s many recordings of the Christmas Oratorio have used period instruments with a view to recreating the sounds envisaged by Bach. Choirs with one voice per part (OVPP), used in some historically informed performances of Bach's music, are rarely recorded in this work. There are a couple of interesting examples of the use of smaller choirs by British conductors. John Butt, in a recording made in 2015,[2] chooses two voices per part for some of the choruses.[3] This draws on the researches of Michael Maul into the choir of the Thomasschule.

Table of recordings[edit]

Recordings of the Christmas Oratorio
Title Conductor / Choir / Orchestra Soloists Label Year Choir type Orch. type
Weihnachts-Oratorium[4] Fritz Lehmann[a][5]
Berlin Philharmonic
DG Archiv Produktion 1955/1956 Two chamber choirs combined
Oratorio de Noël (Part II only) Fritz Münch
Choir of St William's Church, Strasbourg
Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg
Lumen 1957
Weihnachts-Oratorium[4] Kurt Thomas
Seraphim 1958 Boys' choir
Oratorio de Noël[6] Fritz Werner
Heinrich-Schütz-Chor Heilbronn
Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra
1963 Chamber orchestra
Weihnachtsoratorium Karl Richter
Münchener Bach-Chor
Münchener Bach-Orchester
Archiv Produktion 1965
Karl Münchinger
Lübecker Knabenkantorei an St. Marien [de]
Stuttgarter Kammerorchester
Decca 1967 Boys' choir Chamber orchestra
Weihnachtsoratorium[7] Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Wiener Sängerknaben
Concentus Musicus Wien
Teldec 1972 Boys' choir Period
Gerhard Schmiedt-Gaden
Tölzer Knabenchor
Collegium Aureum
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 1973 Boys' choir Period
Martin Flämig
Dresdner Kreuzchor
Dresden Philharmonic
Berlin Classics 1974 Boys' choir
Christmas Oratorio[7] Philip Ledger
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
Academy of St Martin in the Fields
1976 Boys' choir Chamber orchestra
Weinachts-Oratorium[8] Helmuth Rilling
Gächinger Kantorei
Bach-Collegium Stuttgart
Michel Corboz
Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne
1985 Chamber orchestra
Christmas Oratorio[8] John Eliot Gardiner
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
Archiv Produktion 1987 Period
Weinachts-Oratorium[8] Philippe Herreweghe
Collegium Vocale Gent
Instrumentalists of Collegium Vocale Gent
Virgin Classics 1989 Period


  1. ^ Lehmann died during the recording sessions and was replaced by Günther Arndt


  1. ^ a b Freeman-Attwood, Jonathan (2014). "Bach's Christmas Oratorio - which recording is best?". Gramophone. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Dunedin Consort: Approaching Classical Music with an Inquisitive Spirit". 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  3. ^ Kemp, Lindsay. "JS BACH Christmas Oratorio". Gramophone. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 / Recordings – Part 2". Bach Cantatas Website.
  5. ^ Fritz Lehmann & Berlin Motet Choir & Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works Bach Cantatas Website
  6. ^ "Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 / Recordings – Part 3". Bach Cantatas Website.
  7. ^ a b "Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 / Recordings – Part 4". Bach Cantatas Website.
  8. ^ a b c "Weinachts-Oratorium / Recordings - Part 5". Bach Cantatas Website.