Bach: Christmas Oratorio
2010 saw the beginning of an exciting, new collaboration between The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in performances of Bach's Christmas Oratorio. Each December since, Stephen Layton has performed cantatas I, II, III and VI of the Christmas Oratorio as part of the St John's Smith Square Christmas Festival to critical acclaim. Moreover, for the last 3 years, the choir have performed the work from memory, enabling them to engage with the text in a dramatic manner.
"This wonderful performance made all the elements come to life in the most vivid way...It was lavishly festive ...the real core of the performance was the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge. They had learned the whole thing by heart, and sang as if their lives depended on it. In the Ruler of Heaven chorus that opens Part 3 their soaring melodic lines, like flying buttresses pinioned against one another, were a marvel." 5 Stars ***** (The Telegraph, 2013)
Hyperion recording session promotional video
Recording the Christmas Oratorio
In January 2013, the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge joined forces with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenent in Trinity College Chapel to record all six cantatas with Hyperion Records. They were joined by soloists: James Gilchrist (Evangelist/tenor), Katherine Watson (soprano), Iestyn Davies (countertenor), and Matthew Brooke (bass). Produced by Stephen Johns and engineered by David Hinitt, the disc was released in November 2013 and has since been named Album of the Week by The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday and Classic FM (David Mellor).
"... the 38 mixed voices of Trinity College Choir [are] very well trained, especially in matters of firm text enunciation... The soloist line-up is in general superior both technically and interpretatively, especially the ever-incisive James Gilchrist … The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment sounds thoroughly at home (David Blackadder gives a very suave trumpet solo in 'Grosser Herr') and Stephen Layton conducts with care and expertise" (Gramophone Magazine, 2013)