The sacred cantatas of J.S. Bach

Discussion in 'Classical Music' started by tones, Jun 19, 2003.

  1. tones

    eisenach

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    Just back from holiday in France. Read somewhere whilst I was out there (Diapason?) that Gardiner is creating his own company to issue the Cantata recordings in full from the 2000 pilgrimage year. He has bought the rights from Universal/DG. No mention of a time-scale. One to watch for Gardiner enthusiasts.
     
    eisenach, Aug 26, 2004
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  2. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Hi, Eisenach, there have been persistent rumours of a complete Gardiner release (I haven't looked at the Monteverdi website for some time, but there was a consistent demand that they be released). The ones I've heard I've liked. Mind you, Suzuki is also darned good... And in between, thanks to sales in the shop in the Zürich mainstation, I now have nearly a complete collection of Rilling to go with the complete collection of Leusink. But would I also acquire a complete gardiner? The worrying thing is that I find myself already trying to justify it...
     
    tones, Aug 26, 2004
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  3. tones

    djc

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    djc, Aug 26, 2004
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  4. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Dang, there goes my 2005 bonus...
     
    tones, Aug 26, 2004
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  5. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    I pre-ordered the first two cantata CDs from Monteverdi Productions by e-mail - and got an e-mail response from Isabella de Sabata, a.k.a. Mrs. John Eliot Gardiner. Clearly Monteverdi Productions is a lean organisation!
     
    tones, Aug 30, 2004
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  6. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    So, the first two volumes (oddly, Volumes 1 and 8) have arrived chez Tones. Nice packaging - little hard-backed books with sleeves for the CDs and in between notes of the cantatas and the texts. Interesting choice of covers - photos taken of Afghans by Steve McCurry (one of a series that includes the girl who was on the cover of "National Geographic" a while back, the sort of photos you'd be prepared to kill to be able to take).

    And the music? Excellent! I was expecting only fair quality in both recording and execution, given the scale of the enterprise and the lack of time for rehearsal but the recordings are excellent on both counts. They are crisp and clear, with (to my ears anyway) nicely-judged tempi. The soloists are good and the Monteverdis and the EBS are, as always, great. Oh dear, I really do think I'm going to end up buying the lot...

    P.S. ...and ever since I've been unable to get the bouncy chorale accompaniment of "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" out of my head! (The CDs include BWV99 and 100 ("Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan", II and III (Bach used the text three times in cantatas)).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2005
    tones, Jan 29, 2005
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  7. tones

    Sir Galahad Harmonia Mundi

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    Hi All,

    For info, just purchased (and listened to) two Cantatas,
    BWV 21 "Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis" and
    BWV 42 "Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats"
    by La Chapelle Royale, Collegium Vocale,
    dir. Philippe Herreweghe (Harmonia Mundi).

    Just superb.

    Had a go at the same from my Teldec collection. Like both but will need to listen to the new ones a few more times.

    I'm now listening to BWV 21 from the Hanssler Collection, but can't say I appreciate that good old pre-baroque-fashion style...

    Will try 42 later on
     
    Sir Galahad, Mar 9, 2005
    #27
  8. tones

    pe-zulu

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    Rilling

    Yes he is "preauthentic" but rather paedagogic too, I think, and you can learn a lot about Bachs vocal music from Rilling, given his transparent view, stressing rhytm and counterpoint. And the instrumentalists are excellent and the choir more than adequate. And don't complain
    about the price of the "complete" Hanssler edition, which
    I for the moment (very long moment of course) is fighting my way through too.
     
    pe-zulu, Mar 10, 2005
    #28
  9. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    I've just had a mail from Monteverdi productions - the next Gardiner live cantata volumes will be out in mid-April.

    I agree with Pe-Zulu with regard to Rilling. His may not be the best, but they're a good way to get to know the cantatas at that price. And some of them are very good indeed - one of my favourite listens is Rilling's BWV129 with the three Läubin brothers blowing their brains out in the trumpet parts.
     
    tones, Mar 11, 2005
    #29
  10. tones

    Sir Galahad Harmonia Mundi

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    I guess Rilling is an acquired taste. Actually that's all I ever heard as a kid and teenager, and that's (partly) how I became a Bach fan. Problem is, after years listening to the modern-day baroquoists, it will take time to readjust.

    But I'll keep struggling, and I too am in the process of trying to discover all the goodies in the Hanssler collection. Looks like a lifetime endeavor though. And I'm certainly not complaining about the price ...
     
    Sir Galahad, Mar 11, 2005
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  11. tones

    pe-zulu

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    Aquired taste or not, - the more I listen to Rillings Bach, the more I appreciate his clear, beneficial un-romantic style. Like other great preautentic Bach interpretors e.g. Karl Ristenpart or Helmut Walcha, all offering some sort of advanced practical score-reading. And I can resign myself to the sound of the modern instruments when played like this. But of course Rilling has some serious shortcomings, primarily in the field of the rethorical and expressive element of the music. But surely if you want to learn to know Bach seriously, you have to read about the music, read the scores yourself, try to play his music yourself to the best of your ability, and listen to many different interpretations.
     
    pe-zulu, Mar 12, 2005
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  12. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    I've just put my name down for the whole Gardiner set:

    http://www.monteverdiproductions.co.uk/forthcoming.asp

    There's no hope for some people.

    Like Pe-Zulu above, I still get great pleasure from the Rilling series. The modern instruments don't bother me, but some of the solo singers let the side down, with voices that grate on me, I find. However, there are some great treasures in there.
     
    tones, May 9, 2005
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  13. tones

    pe-zulu

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    Yes, even the first soprano in Rillings Cantate-integral appearing in Cantate nr.1, the danish soprano Inga Nielsen, constitutes an insult to ones ears. But many others of the vocalists are splendid.

    As to Gardiners Cantate-pilgrimage, I understand that three volumes a two CDs have been released by now. But volume three has got something like number 37. Do they intend to release the complete pilgrimage, all 200 or so Cantatas?
     
    pe-zulu, May 9, 2005
    #33
  14. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Yes. I believe 198 were recorded and will be released. The odd numbering releases have something to do with contractural arrangements with DG (according to Isabella Gardiner on the website).

    At least one often omitted (e.g., by Harnoncourt) because of the missing two first movements, BWV190, will be included, I'm pleased to say. Reconstructions or not, this is a wonderful cantata, especially the last chorale. This was the last cantata performed in the Pilgrimage (in New York) and that final movement is captured on the Cantata DVD - stands your hair on end. Both Rilling and Suzuki include it in their editions, and it sounds wonderful.

    Hopefully BWV11 (Lobet Gott in seinem Reichen) will also be included. Some editions (such as Leusink's) omit it because it's also called the Ascension Oratorio, and therefore not regarded as a cantata. Which is a pity because it's one of the greats, up there with 4,31,51,80,82,140,147 (etc., etc.)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2005
    tones, May 10, 2005
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  15. tones

    pe-zulu

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    This will amount to almost 1000 Euro in the course of time. Perhaps a little too much for me. But I should very much like to aquire a HIP version of the Cantatas to counterbalance Rilling.
    Harnoncourt and Koopmann are not to my taste in this matter.
    Leusink is rather cheap. Do you still think it is worth to have?
    Suzuki will probably be the most expensive and despite his virtues, I think he often is too objective and cool
    for Bachs sacral music (I own his Matthæuspassion and Johannespassion).

    Regards,
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2005
    pe-zulu, May 11, 2005
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  16. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    I personally would say yes to Leusink. The set is amazingly good value, even though the performances are a mixed bag - Leusink was nearly as ambitious as Gardiner, recording the lot in about 15 months. The quality is very variable, ranging from excellent to very ordinary, but as an inexpensive way of getting to know the cantatas it can't be bettered.

    I personally am not enthusiastic about Harnoncourt's cantatas, recorded when historical instruments were in their infancy and some of them sound as if they were recorded in Nicky's garden shed. However, some love them (e.g., occasional visitor Eisenach, who has the lot). I also haven't been impressed by the Koopmans I've heard.

    In the end, I personally come down to Gardiner and Suzuki. The Suzuki cantatas I've heard (I have about 12 of the CDs) are generally excellent - good playing, good singing. In the end (and only in my opinion), Gardiner shades Suzuki for overall presentation. The Gardiner live set heard so far seems to indicate that Gardiner has come a long way in his Bach interpretation - much more thoughtful, so that a better approach to the more reflective material comes with the typical Gardiner bounce in the festive numbers. The notes on the individual volumes (and Gardiner's commentary on the cantatas DVD) seems to indicate that the pilgrimage had a profound effect on him and his approach to Bach. In addition, ordering the lot means a substantial discount, so I'll end up paying about EUR800 - a lot of money, but that's the sort of money some folk spend on bits of wire to join up their equipment! Moreover, unlike bits of wire, I think they will be a source of lasting pleasure.
     
    tones, May 12, 2005
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  17. tones

    pe-zulu

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    Tones, thanks, I think my solution will be to aquire Leusink now, and later aquire supplementary single Suzuki-
    and Gardiner CDs of preferred Cantatas.
    Regards,
     
    pe-zulu, May 12, 2005
    #37
  18. tones

    eisenach

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    I've been listening to the Pentecost Cantatas: what a gem the treble aria in bwv68 is. Mein gläubiges Herze. It's in 208 as well (The Hunt), but (last night anyway) seemed much more arresting in 68. A definite stop-what-you're-doing moment. The soloist was Peter Jelosits
    Magic!
     
    eisenach, May 19, 2005
    #38
  19. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    It's good when boy sopranos can make further waves in the music world. I think of Roy Goodman, who was the boy soloist in the famous King's College recording of Allegri's Miserere, and who's now leading the Hanover Band.

    And I'll go and listen to BWV68 at the weekend! Thanks for the hint, Eisenach.
     
    tones, May 19, 2005
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  20. tones

    pe-zulu

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    Leusink

    Still far from having traversed the Rilling Cantata-set yet, I just received the Leusink Cantata-set from JPC yesterday. Sixty CDs, just another long journey. But the natural and unaffected style of the first three cantatas, I listened to, really appealed to me, and I look forward to many months rewarding listening.

    Regards,
     
    pe-zulu, Jul 30, 2005
    #40
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