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The Boston Globe

Arts

MUSIC REVIEW

Handel and Haydn give us Bach and a whirl beyond

As Boston winter holiday traditions go, the Handel and Haydn Society’s “A Bach Christmas’’ does not have the cachet of “Messiah’’ or “The Nutcracker’’ or Holiday Pops. But what would Christmas be without Bach’s Advent and Christmas cantatas, and in particular his “Christmas Oratorio’’?

The program that American conductor Steven Fox, in his H&H debut, has assembled for this year’s celebration opens with Bach’s Cantata No. 133, “Ich freue mich in dir,’’ and closes with Cantata V from the “Christmas Oratorio.’’ But in between, Fox takes us on a whirlwind sleigh ride that even Santa might envy, with musical stops in Mexico, Bolivia, Russia, and the United States. It’s a stunning tribute not just to Bach but to his influence and that of the Baroque style.

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