Basking in the glory of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in one of the most beautiful chapels in Oxford, it was hard to believe this superlative group of singers and musicians have been together for less than two years.

Oxford Bach Soloists was founded by conductor Tom Hammond-Davies with the mission of performing the complete works of Bach in his home city. And on Christmas Eve it was, of course, the turn of Johan Sebastian’s festive 1734 tour de force – or at least the best-parts of it – parts I to III.

Starting with a roof-raising chorus and ending on an equally joyous reprise, the works stand alone and afford a pleasing symmetry – welcoming us in from the cold with a rousing blast of exaltation and packing us off at the end with the same.

The 14th century chapel of New College, with its beautiful reredos and choir stalls is a sensory oasis from the bustle of Oxford city centre – particularly on a busy Christmas Eve, with its tacky consumerism and last minute scrambling for gifts.

While lacking the overtly ‘festive’ feel of the Carol concerts elsewhere, the performance afforded a more contemplative experience, by turns hypnotic, meditative and thrilling, the music washing over the audience in waves. It was possible to follow the text in the original German through the excellent programme, though a more contemplative experience was afforded by simply letting the music speak for itself.

Stand out performances came from counternor William Purefoy and bass Ben Davies. Tenor Daniel Norman – a former Choral Scholar at this very place – is possessed of a voice so magisterial, and a delivery so crisp, it stirs the heart and tingles the spine.

Elegant Canadian-born, Oxford-based soprano Cecilia Osmond’s soaring solos filled the loft heights of the chapel with exquisite beauty and crystalline clarity.

It was gratifying to see some younger members of the university among the singers and instrumentalists – many with impressive credentials – underscoring the quality of this outfit. A particular delight was the pretty harpsichord, played by Sebastian Gillot – its subtle and evocatively baroque plucked strains emerging in the quieter movements.

Uplifting and a respite from the less spiritual side of Christmas, this wonderful performance provided the best two hours of the festive season. Absolutely perfect in every way.