CHRISTMAS ORATORIO, Bach. Gunthild Weber (sop.), Sieglinde Wagner (con.), Helmut Krebs (ten., Evangelist), Heinz Rehfuss (bass), Berlin Moteltenchor and RIAS-Kammerchor, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Conductors: Fritz Lehmann and Gunther Arndt. (Archive APMI4101-3.) THE veiled beauties and more meditative qualities of Bach's "Christmas Oratorio" have always been overshadowed in this country by Handel's forthright and dramatic "Messiah". This complete recording should do much to popularise the work here-the genius of its interwoven unity revealing itself more clearly than in any concert performance.
Technically the recording is unimpeachable. The instrumental playing, too, is of the highest order: beautiful tone and phrasing from the strings and woodwind, and the trumpets blazing forth with all the brilliance of a cold. crystal Christmas night.
The conductors seem to have sacrificed clarity of part-singing in the great choruses for sheer volup
tuousness of sound, but apart from this the choice of tempo and mood is excellent throughout.
HELMUT KREBS is an outstanding Evangelist, and there is some very beautiful singing from Sieglinde Wagner. The latter sings two arias, "Prepare thyself Zion" and "Slumber, Beloved" on the current issue of an extended play (EPA 37187)-the complete recording being much older.
The records are available separately or complete with a handsome presentation case and libretto at an extra cost of Ss. 6d. The latter contains the text in German, English, and French, and some wonderful illustrations.
There are a good many literary errors in the English version. and one would welcome a modern translation instead of the continuous use of ridiculous sounding phrases such as "Rouse you dreamer!" and "My heart my life.