Before the red-cloaked, bushy-bearded St Nicholas squeezes himself down your chimney, discover the legends behind the 3rd-century bishop who would go on to inspire the Santa Claus myth. The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus reunite for Benjamin Britten’s captivating cantata, recounting Nicholas’s life from birth to death.
As a child one Christmas Eve, Gerald Finzi climbed a local hill and heard the church bells ring out over his beloved Gloucestershire. This inspired his Christmas Scene, imagining Christ’s nativity in an idyllically frozen, picture-postcard English countryside setting. It is performed here in its 1956 chamber orchestra arrangement. From frozen Finland, Jean Sibelius’s Rakastava (The Lover) opens this wintry concert, based on folk stories from Karelia – borderlands between modern Russia and Finland.