Magnificat and Cantatas for Christmas


Here is a splendid “Christmas Program 1723” signed by the young Bach, comprising works composed for Weimar then Leipzig, and all directed by Bach for his first Christmas as Cantor in Leipzig.

The sumptuous cantata “Christen, ätzet diesen Tag/ Christians, engrave this day” is Bach’s oldest Christmas cantata, composed in Weimar as early as 1713, probably repeated for the Bicentenary of the Reformation in 1717, finally on 25 December 1723 in Leipzig. With its four trumpets and timpani, it is truly grandiose and seeks the effects!

La cantate “Nun kom der Heiden Heiland / Viens Sauveur des Paiens” fut composée pour le premier dimanche de l’avent de 1714 et exécutée dans la chapelle du Château. Bach la reprit également pour son premier Noël de 1723 à Leipzig.

Bach’s Magnificat is a mythical work: in its first version composed for Christmas 1723, here is a work that joins a crazy inventiveness, prowess of choral counterpoint and a beauty that still subjugates us… Having arrived in Leipzig at the beginning of the year, Bach had to prove himself, and this Magnificat was thought of as a monument to sacred music, combining piety, virtuosity, and a majesty brought by the succession of extraordinary choirs. A complex «mirrored» plan system also makes the Magnificat a true masterpiece of musical numerology.

With five magnificent soloists, Valentin Tournet recreates an exuberant «Bach programme» of the Nativity period, which he records for the collection Château de Versailles Spectacles: his first CD, at 22 years old.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

BWV 62 – Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
BWV 147 – Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben
BWV 243a – Magnificat en mi bémol majeur

Maria Keohane, soprano I
Michaela Selinger, soprano II
Robin Blaze, alto
James Oxley, tenor
Stephan MacLeod, bass

La Chapelle Harmonique (choir & orchestra)
Valentin Tournet, conductor

Thursday December 19th, 2019, 8:30 p.m.
Oratoire du Louvre, Paris

Friday December 20th 2019, 8:30 p.m.
Chapelle Royale de Versailles