This has to be one of the best Christmas Oratorios I have heard. I have listened to the Van Veldhoven, the Gardiner, and others, and I always come back to this one.
The reason is simple. Rene Jacobs' recordings never fail to be vibrant and exuberant. This Christmas Oratorio is no exception. Like the previous reviewer said, this record is moving. The opening chorus, from the first strike at the timpani, is pure joy and celebration. No other conductor I know could pull off such an emotional impact. The famous Sinfonia in the middle of the work is sheer magic, and perhaps only Herrewehge (on the Virgin Classics label) could rival Jacobs in this department.
The singers, especially Dorothea Roeschmann (who has been gaining in popularity over recent years) are top-notch. The orchestra and chorus are also first rate. This is a very "extroverted" rendition, which is very apropos for the subject matter. Forget what the first reviewer said. I find the Naxos recording far too mannered, and I, for one, am a little bored of classical conductors rendering such famous works as if the were on their "tiptoes." I appreciate Jacobs for breathing some life into classical music! I suspect there will be more releases of the Christmas Oratorio soon, but I also suspect I will keep returning to the Jacobs records for a long time.
Buy this one, and turn your speakers up full blast!