Dunedin Consort

Bach Christmas Oratorio

Linn Records

IN the decade since the Dunedin Consort's superb recreation of the Dublin debut of Handel's Messiah became the award-winning gold standard of informed period performance of that warhorse of the choral repertoire, director John Butt of Glasgow University and his singers and instrumentalists have released a further two Handel works, one Mozart (Requiem) and, with this, seven disc of music by Johann Sebastian Bach. As beautifully packaged as they are recorded, there will be many folk asking Santa to keep their collection up to date this year. A companion piece to last year's Magnificat and Christmas Cantata, this two disc set has all six of the cantatas Bach composed in Leipzig to accompany scripture from Advent through to Epiphany.

Professor Butt has, of course, drawn on the best research to produce performances that are as close as can be determined to what the composer himself would have conducted. Eight of the finest singers share the ensemble and solo work, although none of them actually double on instruments as some musicians may have done in the 1730s. Instead 21 period specialist players joined the conductor's harpsichord and producer Philip Hobbs in Edinburgh's Greyfriars Kirk for just six days in September last year to make this absolutely essential recording.

Keith Bruce