In good hands, oh no – throats!

In good hands, oh no - throats!

Johann sebastian bach’s "christmas oratorio is performed over 40 times in berlin this christmas season; in bad kissingen for the 20th time. Jubilee of the kissinger winter magic fortunately also once. This performance for the 3. Advent in the max-littmann-saal in the frame of the 20. Anniversary year of the "bad kissinger winterzaubers became a joyful celebration of the christmas story for the visitors in the very well filled hall. Cantor burkhard ascherl had a very good hand in the selection of his colleagues, the mitteldeutsches kammerorchester and the four vocal soloists, all of whom were excellently disposed.

As usual, the first three parts of the "oratorio" were very successful six individual cantatas for the three days of christmas (25.-27. 12.), new year, 1. Sunday in january and epiphany for performance. One of the most beautiful arias from the rarely performed 4. Part, the popular echo aria, ascherl had in the 2. Part integrated, which fit very well. Already at the opening chorus "jauchzet, frohlocket" the instrumentalists from bach’s homeland and their conductor from kissingen showed, as throughout the entire oratorio, with a brisk, driving tempo, that they were serious about the festive jubilation of the three trumpets, the timpani, the transverse flutes and the oboes, the confectionary splendor for the just-born christ.

The choir of kissingen also proved how well prepared it was, and impressed from the beginning with its exact pronunciation, very pointedly shaped rhythm, balance, and good musical structure. This good impression also continued in the many chorales (such as "wie soll ich dich empfangen") to the melody of "O haupt voll blut und wunden" or the very well arranged male voices in "ach mein herzliebes jesulein"). Although the cantor’s songs were supposed to give the congregation the opportunity to sing along, they were sung very freshly and with a lot of verve by the kantorei. But also the concert with the soloists in the quite delicate alternation with soprano and bass in "he is on earth come poor" succeeded very well.

Listening to the singers was also enjoyable. The most exposed of the four is of course the tenor, who in his secco-recitatives – when accompanied only by the basso continuo – has to form the text from the new testament, but with "frohe hirten, eilt, ach eilet" also a really complex baroque dacapo aria. Florian feth, whose concert focus is not by chance in berlin, was pleasantly assured in tone and rhythmically precise, so that in his aria he was also able to perform in good humor with his accompanists, traverso and continuo. Baritone dieter goffing was able to show himself right away with one of the most popular arias of the christmas oratorio, the praise of the great god "grober herr, o starker konig" ("great lord, o strong king"), exalted with trumpets and transverse flutes in the bass as well as in the baritone parts, he demonstrated the flexibility of his voice in an impressive interpretation of the text and with a very well-balanced harmony with the again coarse playing of the high wind instruments.

The two female voices were in very good hands with stefanie rhaue and brigitte ascherl ah, throats. In the cantatas of the first three parts, bach’s main focus is on the alto, for he has a dominant aria with exquisite accompaniment in each part: in "bereite dich, zion" (prepare yourself, zion) it is a praying oboe d’amore, in "sleep, my dearest" the traverse flute, and in "schliebe, mein herze" (love, my heart) a solo violin playing with many ornaments.

Stefanie rhaue played them all with a lot of calmness and obvious pleasure in the tonal and rhythmic shaping and concertizing with the wonderfully concentrated and unanimously playing continuo group. It is a pity that the names were not revealed; the almost jazzy swinging double bass player, his no less agile colleague on the positive organ and the animatedly performing cellist must be praised so anonymously. For his boy soprano, bach has in the first three parts only the role of the angel and the duet with the bass "herr, dein mitleid" ("lord, your pity"), which is very lively and contrary to the text provided. Brigitte ascherl and dieter goffing showed themselves in this melodically and rhythmically excellently prasent and tuned to each other. Brigitte ascherl, however, was able to take advantage of the echo-arie from the 4. Part nevertheless once again in the duet, this time with stefanie rhaue prove: with the echo aria "flobt, mein heiland, flobt dein namen" (flobt, my savior, flobt your name), in which a dialogue with the heiland was staged by an offstage echo (in the max littmann hall, this was the side checkroom), which was initially the "no, but then, to the rude delight of the questioner, the "yes!" Repeated, brigitte ascherl sang her part with rough dedication and precision and conducted for her old colleague rhaue, who extended the range of her voice with excellent technique for the soprano interjections required.

This cabinet piece, like the entire performance, was an excellent success. The wonderfully prepared and concentrated chorus, the orchestra with its excellently prepared instrumental soloists, the vocal soloists and the prudent, imaginative and precise director of the whole, burkhard ascherl, love christmas glamour and anticipation of the holidays got the upper hand over the rather muddy and cold and wet 3rd quarter. Advent sunday.

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