The sacred cantatas of J.S. Bach

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

  1. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    The latest volume from the Monteverdis

    NEWS: A NEW BACH CANTATA VOLUME AND OTHER RELEASES

    I am pleased to inform you that SDG 110 (Cantatas for the 19th Sunday after Trinity, recorded in Potsdam, and for the Feast of Reformation, recorded in Wittenberg) is now ready and available to mailing list members from our website.

    It contains two of Bach's best known cantatas, BWV 56, the “Kreutzstab†cantata, sung by Peter Harvey, and “Ein Feste Burg is unser Gottâ€Â, but I hope that the other cantatas – probably some of the least known! - will become new favourites.

    Subscribers to the whole series will not need to place an order for this CD: it will be automatically sent to you first and you should receive by next week.

    Other mailing list members can order SDG 110 volume 10, from tomorrow through our website - as usual and will receive 15% discount by entering the code WMP809. This special offer is valid until Saturday 15th October, 05.

    Just to remind those who are not yet subscribers to the whole series; You can obtain all Bach Cantata Pilgrimage releases at a special 25 % discount and as soon as they become available - visit our website for further details.

    NEW BACH WORK RELEASED SOON

    There are more Bach treats in store from SDG this autumn: first and foremost the world premiere recording of Alles mit Gott, a birthday offering by JS Bach to Prince Wilhelm Ernst of Saxony which was discovered in Weimar last May. It is a lovely piece which has not been heard for almost 300 years, for soprano (sung by Elin Manahan Thomas) and continuo, with a string ritornello performed by members of the English Baroque Soloists.

    It was only by complete coincidence, that the manuscript survived the fire which destroyed a large part of the Anna Amalia library in Weimar last year, as Michael Maul, who discovered the piece, tells in the liner notes. We were thrilled and honoured when the Director of Bach Archive in Leipzig emailed us asking if John Eliot would consider making the first recording of this piece, and extremely lucky to find a sponsor (die Viscount St. Davids Stiftung in conjunction with the AuBACH group of companies) who allowed us to plan and produce this recording in …record time!

    The rest of the CD contains a selection of some of the most beautiful arias and choruses from as yet unreleased volumes of the Cantata Pilgrimage. It is packaged in a digipack with a beautiful landscape by Steve McCurry on the cover.
     
    tones, Aug 16, 2005
    #41
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  2. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Hooray! It's here (yes, indeed, that is it playing in the background).
    [​IMG]

    It has some real goodies:

    BWV90 "Es reisset euch ein schrecklich Ende" (with its wonderful bass and trumpet aria)
    BWV56 "Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen"
    BWV192 "Nun danket alle Gott" (with the famous hymn tune known in English as "Now thank we all our God")
    and last but not least
    BWV80 "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" (one of the towering giants, written to Luther's famous battle hymn).

    I was pleased to find that Gardiner left the trumpets and drums out of BWV80 - eldest son Wilhelm Friedmann shoved them in after Dad had passed on, to jazz the thing up. It really doesn't need them.

    Everything heard so far is nicely done, with nicely judged tempi. A treat for the ears. All the soloists are good. Gardiner has done a great service in introducing so many young new soloists to the cantatas.

    P.S. Finished now. Great!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 21, 2005
    tones, Aug 25, 2005
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  3. tones

    titian

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    tones,
    I think it's time to invite you again here to enjoy this time a Gardiner's day. :D

    Cheers

    Titian

    PS: no floods or landslide at your place?
     
    titian, Aug 25, 2005
    #43
  4. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Sounds good to me, ol' bean!

    No, thankfully, we've escaped the floods completely. How's it down your way? I see that Luzern old town is still doing a passable imitation of Venice. Didn't hear anything about Arth-Goldau, so I assume that all is well bei Dir.
     
    tones, Aug 26, 2005
    #44
  5. tones

    titian

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    Alright over here, I wouldn't say. :rolleyes:

    500 meters from me in direction Arth came down a big landslide from about 1400m down to about 400m. All trees (for about 30 meters wide) were pulled down. What a luck that only 4 houses were touched. The railway line is though still interrupted. Between Goldau and Walchwil there were at least 40-80 mostly small slides (had to stop counting)!

    About a Km on the other side from where I live (just out of Goldau) there was another big landside. No houses were hitten but our football field is under half a meter mud. :(

    However when you listen to music you don't notice anything what's happening around you. :MILD:
     
    titian, Aug 26, 2005
    #45
  6. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Especially at your sort of volume! :boogie: (Is it true that you register on the ETH seismograph? Be truthful - my younger daughter starts geology (Erdwissenschaft) at the ETH in October and the truth shall be revealed!)
     
    tones, Aug 26, 2005
    #46
  7. tones

    Artikulat

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    Artikulat, Oct 4, 2005
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  8. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Me? OK, I confess, I'm a liar, I had hopes, but no expectations. Mind you, the Monteverdi website was asking the fans to vote for it. I suspect that none of the other contestants had such a support base.

    Having said that, the Gardiner SDG cantata recordings are very good, in both quality of recording and performance. I've made room in the cabinet for them all...
     
    tones, Oct 5, 2005
    #48
  9. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    [​IMG]

    I liked this review of the Christmas cantata issue from "The Times":

    Where were you on Christmas Day, 2000? Sir John Eliot Gardiner was in St Bartholomew's church on Fifth Avenue, New York, concluding that year's Bach Cantata Pilgrimage. Rudolph Giuliani, then the city's mayor, was in the audience. So, now, are all of us, participating in the same concert of four Christmas cantatas, packaged together on another excellent disc from Gardiner's own label, Soli Deo Gloria.

    The first SDG release from his pilgrimage recordings was recently picked as the Gramophone Record of the Year. The qualities that singled out that volume equally stamp this latest: music-making of driving vigour and piercing beauty, alive to every one of Bach's moods, with the crackle of excitement possible only in genuinely live performances.

    By December 2000 Gardiner's Monteverdi Choir, the English Baroque Soloists and his changing band of soloists had been travelling for 12 months, defying practical obstacles in pursuit of their extravagant goal: performing all Bach's surviving church cantatas in situ throughout Europe. True, a pre-Reformation Scrooge could point out fleeting weaknesses in balance and vocal tone. But they matter not a jot compared with the dancing syncopations in Cantata No 91, the horns that never stop whooping, the shining light of Katharine Fuge's soprano, the tender mercies of many recitatives, the frightening vigour of Peter Harvey's “hellish serpent†bass aria in No 40, and the genius of J. S. Bach.

    Time and again in these cantatas - the others are 110 and 121 - we are pulled up short by Bach's daring. Here are harmonic progressions that stab the heart, exultant counterpoint and fanciful embroidery; music, Christian theology and ordinary human understanding are fused to a degree rarely found in Western art.

    Gardiner's theatrical instincts find much to feast on in the outer movements; but it's the entire tapestry of these performances that so impresses, as light succeeds darkness, hope conquers fear, and splendid music, unfairly cast in the shade by Bach's Christmas Oratorio, rises in glory. Hang this CD on your Christmas tree. Now.
     
    tones, Dec 21, 2005
    #49
  10. tones

    Tantris La Chouette Hulotte

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    I'm a relative newcomer to the cantatas; I have the Leusink set (who could resist a complete Bach for Euro99?), but I recorded about half the cantatas during the Radio 3 Bach Christmas.

    The two conductors who have stood out for me were Gardiner and Richter, particularly the latter for the reasons that RdS has articulated. To my surprise, Suzuki did not.

    Anyway, still working my way through ....
     
    Tantris, Apr 3, 2006
    #50
  11. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    The latest Gardiner cantatas (Vol.7, for the fourteenth Sunday after Trinity) arrived at the weekend. Again, a great issue. This one has BWV78 with its gorgeous soprano-alto duet Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten, with the continuo (cello, organ, bass) bopping along (only way to describe it really).
     
    tones, Sep 26, 2006
    #51
  12. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    This arrived last night:

    [​IMG]

    I had time to listen to half of it, and was disappointed. I guess I'm simply biased - I don't like the one-voice-per-part idea pioneered by Joshua Rifkin. I don't care how authentic or unauthentic is a proper choir, I want one! This is not to say that there isn't excellent playing and singing in this disc (although some of the solo voices could be better, which immediately lowers the competence of the "choir"). So, I stick to Gardiner, Suzuki and the like.

    Of course, folk who like the Rifkin approach will like this very much.
     
    tones, Nov 16, 2006
    #52
  13. tones

    horace

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    Hi

    This is a great thread. I have the Rilling set (as part of a budget version of the Hanssler edition, released in Europe a couple of years ago). I'm very pleased with what I have heard so far.

    What do you think of the Leusink set on Brilliant Classics? Their complete Bach edition can be had for silly money and I have been tempted, even though I know I don't need it.
    How does Leusink compare to Rilling?

    Cheers

    Martin
     
    horace, Nov 16, 2006
    #53
  14. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Hello, Martin. In my opinion, for the price of the Leusink set, you simply can't go wrong. It has its weaknesses, but it also includes some excellent performances. In general, the performances are not as refined as those of Rilling, which is operating with the more secure intonation of modern instruments and Rilling's generally very good Gächinger Kantorei. In addition, Rilling has some excellent solo singers, such as Arleen Augér. In some cantatas, Rilling really excels - I've yet to heart a more thrilling version of BWV129 than Rilling's, with the three trumpeting Läubin brothers blowing up a storm.

    However, if you like authentic instruments, Leusink's the one to go for. And Ruth Holton's almost boyish soprano must be as close as one can get these days to the adolescents that Bach would have used for the top two lines (as Gardiner has pointed out, the soprano and alto lines were written for voices that no longer exist).

    Having both sets, I like having them both and comparing and contrasting - and Rilling doesn't always come out on top.
     
    tones, Nov 16, 2006
    #54
  15. tones

    pe-zulu

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    Owning both the Leusink and the Rilling set - though I haven´t managed to transverse all of them yet - I must strongly agree with Tones in this matter. But if I had to choose between Leusink and Rilling, I would go for the Leusink set. Not because I don´t appreciate Rilling, but the unaffected spirit of Leusinks set is in my opinion unsurpassed. So whatever you own of recordings of Bach Cantates, the Leusink set is worth considering too.
     
    pe-zulu, Nov 16, 2006
    #55
  16. tones

    horace

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    Well, that's two votes for Leusink. I shall investigate further....

    Cheers

    Martin
     
    horace, Nov 16, 2006
    #56
  17. tones

    eisenach

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    eisenach, Feb 11, 2007
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  18. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Two new goodies chez Tones, the latest Gardiner SDG release (Easter cantatas), and this:

    [​IMG]

    I got the paperback (still expensive at over $50 - got it from Amazon.com, the US exchange rate being particularly friendly at the moment). Unfortunately, it'll have to go back as the Amazon supplier skimped on the packaging and the book arrived damaged. However, it does look good, the sort of thing the true cantater ought to have.

    The Gardiner release includes two of the greats, BWV4 and BWV31. The first chorus of BWV31 is taken at blinding speed, rather too fast in my estimation - I'm not sure how they managed it, but they did. Anyway, again, a great effort from Gardiner - and I do like Gardiner's thoughtful essays on the cantatas in the booklet.
     
    tones, Feb 25, 2007
    #58
  19. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    tones, Mar 7, 2007
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  20. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Just noticed that Fritz Werner's old set is back:

    http://www.amazon.de/Kantaten-Vol-1...6410939?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1173296223&sr=1-3

    This is the first of 2 volumes - 28 Euro isn't bad for 10 CDs. I came to know and love the cantatas through Werner's recordings, released by Erato as a series entitled "Les grands cantates de J.S. Bach" and made available in Oz by the World Record Club. I still have those old vinyls. However, time has not been kind to them - Werner's interpretations now seem quite quaint and the recording quality is often poor. You sometimes get the impression that all the strings are coming out of one speaker and the soloist out of the other, a sort of dual mono, rather than stereo.

    However, there are some gems - Werner's BWV140 comes off very well. Moreover, he did have access to Erato's star soloists, most prominently Maurice André, who plays the clarino trumpet with a glorious burnished tone, stunning skill and rock-solid security that natural trumpeters (and, come to think of it, other clarino trumpeters) could only dream about.

    So, all in all, an interesting historical document, like Karl Richter's cantatas, but things have definitely moved on.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2007
    tones, Mar 7, 2007
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