It has become a tradition that the finale of the festival European Christmas features Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio- a beautiful and elaborate tale of the time of the birth of Jesus and the events surrounding it. The joyful message has been received and the soul is jubilant! The oratorio consists of six parts - six cantatas; this time, the conductor is Kaspars Putniņš, who is collaborating with an excellent ensemble of soloists, the Latvian Radio Choir and the orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga, and invites the audience to hear the first three parts of this masterpiece. This year, the honor of performing the solos has been entrusted to the owner of a crystalline soprano voice Elīna Šimkus and the young German mezzo-soprano Dorothee Bienert, and two men whose lives are tied to the United Kingdom: the acclaimed interpreter of Bach’s music - the English tenor Nicholas Mulroy, and the baritone who is always dearly welcomed back in his motherland - Pauls Putniņš.
The premiere of the Christmas Oratorio happened in two of Leipzig’s most important churches: St. Thomas and St. Nicholas; they were led by the composer himself and as Bach himself had intended: the premieres happened over several days. This is because each of the six parts of the oratorio tell of a specific event. The first part premiered on Christmas day (25th of December, 1734), the second and the third happened on the following days, the fourth came along with the first day of the new year, the fifth - on the first Sunday of the new year, and the final sixth - on the day of Epiphany (the 6th of January, 1735). It is thought that this way of performing the oratorio was maintained until the 19th century, when the new tradition of performing the whole oratorio on a single night was introduced, yet frequently not performing all six parts in full, rather opting for a special selection of fragments.