"I became a musician because of Bach,” says György Vashegyi, whom Helmuth Rilling initiated into the musical secrets of the past, and within this the work of Johann Sebastian Bach. Later, John Eliot Gardiner imbued him with the intellectual ammunition he needed to represent the historically informed method of instrumental performance in Hungary, which he has now done with undiminished energy for almost a quarter of a century. Vashegyi formed the Purcell Choir in 1990, and the Orfeo Orchestra one year later. He has maintained close ties to the Palace of Arts from its very beginnings, the ensembles he leads making regular appearances at the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall ever since performing at the gala opening of the Festival Theatre. On that occasion, they performed an opera by Monteverdi, but Bach's oeuvre enjoys a special place in a repertoire embracing 250 years of music, and they have performed the Christmas Oratorio on numerous occasions. Vashegyi himself translates the sung text into Hungarian, because - as he puts it - it is not a literary translation that is needed, but a literal one. "This is important,” he adds, "because Baroque music puts words to music, and the flavour of the words must be felt when singing them.”
This large-scale Bach composition, written exactly 280 years ago, is more accurately a series of six cantatas, leading us from the birth of Jesus, through the adoration of the shepherds, to the visit of the Magi (for Epiphany). The biblical story is projected before us through Bach's melodies and harmonies, interpreted by musicians and soloists who will surely make us feel a true part of the celebration.