The sacred cantatas of J.S. Bach

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

  1. tones

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear Tones:
    In reality, the Mass differentiates quite clearly the intimate and the majestic parts. It would be improbable to sing the Qui tolis with a choir, and the choir parts do not really require the expressive subtlety of oppv. So it seems to me that the Mass, and as I said before, the Passions, really need more that one voice per part, and probably Bach himself preferred the oomph in choir parts and did not call for expressive singing, but rather for
    majesty (he liked oomph in organs and harpsichords, that much is certain). So I tend to agree with you even if I am quite content with Jünghaenel's version of the Mass.

    Dear Marc:
    I think you have touched one of the very important questions: with ovpp, in choirs, the singers must not be soloists, and their voices should not be too typical in order to blend well: white voices usually work best. I happen to like 'white voices' in the arias too, but I understand that a more expressive approach might be required.
    McCreesh's Passion is awful. Again, that has nothing to do with the ovpp option: it is simply that McCreesh doesn't seem at ease with Bach and really seems to 'not care' about all the drama. A flat version, really boring.

    NOTE: By 'White Voices' (I don't know if the term exists in the English language) I mean the kind of voice one listens to in Praetorius's 'Qvem Pastores laudavere' by McCreesh. The typical male tenor in a choir is also what I call a white voice. Cantus Cölln (forgive the earlier 'Köln') manages to have voices that blend in choirs (as white voices do) and that work very well as soloists.
    In fact, the advent of less characteristic voices, less operatic if you will, is one of the really good things that the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt revolution brought: I do not like old religious music sung operatically.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Dec 9, 2008
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  2. tones

    Ascherjim

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    I received my 12-CD box set of Ramin's Bach today and quickly sought to determine the particular flavor, and value (to me), of what I had (perhaps rashly) purchased. Subsequent to my ordering of this set (but not beforehand, which one would have supposed) I found the following web site description of the history of these recordings, which I found both fascinating and reassuring. It even gives a brief history of the microphones used in the recordings! To the extent you guys might have been interested in the past in these recordings and already have found this site, then you already know all this. But if not, here it is: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Ramin-Arton.htm.

    I chose to begin my listening with BWV 103, principally because I already have recordings of it by Gardiner and Rilling for comparison purposes. Once again, such a comparison reveals to me why I have chosen in my collection to assemble a reasonably diverse sampling of performances and techniques.

    Listening (as always) through my headphones, the sound of the Ramin is what you might expect from a mono 1951 recording. Not much definition, but a lot of orchestral power and feeling. This was an "all out" performance, i.e., the orchestra, choir and soloists giving their all. The history cited above reveals that they'd usually only had one overall rehearsal together -- and that was just before the actual broadcast performance, the source of all these recordings. There were no re-takes. One does feel, I believe, the historical sense of these East German radio performances.

    The Gardiner performance is, as you would expect, or have heard yourselves, quite well defined, and refined, and to me quite satisfying. Not the power of Ramin, but clearly with appropriate feeling for the music. The Rilling, likewise, is surprisingly (again to me) well refined considering the larger resources of orchestra and choir that he employs. It therefore I find is also a rewarding performance, with good feeling for the music.

    In conclusion, I will definitely return to and savor all three of these performances. Now to explore some more of Ramin's... but I promise I won't bore you further with my subsequent findings.
     
    Ascherjim, Dec 12, 2008
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  3. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Just got a Chrissie card from Monteverdi Productions. This has the very useful feature of a listing of all the issues of the Cantata Pilgrimage, including the ones yet to come. To my surprise, I found that there are only eight volumes left. There are clearly holes in the thing - for example, there is nothing for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity, Part of this is apparently because certain volumes were issued by DG in its 12-CD series, and presumably there are contractural problems there.

    This is the Ninth Sunday DG release:
    [​IMG]

    Some great stuff, including the best version of BWV105 I've ever heard. It has the famous soprano aria Wie zittern und wanken, and a marvellous rollicking version of the tenor aria Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum Freunde machen.
     
    tones, Dec 14, 2008
  4. tones

    Ascherjim

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    If anyone's interested, Presto Classical has just announced (December 15) a special one-month sale of Herreweghe's CD with sacred cantatas BWV 95, 27, 84, and 161 at half-price!

    http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/hmgold.php
     
    Ascherjim, Dec 15, 2008
  5. tones

    Marc

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    Marc, Feb 5, 2009
  6. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    [​IMG]

    How does Steve McCurry do that? He almost seems to be able to see into their very souls.

    Inside, masterpieces of a different kind. Gardiner and his merry (wo)men have kept up a remarkably high standard of music-making throughout this series. Sadly, there aren't that many releases left. One will come within the next week, and after that, there are about seven. This asumes that Gardiner will not be able to get the ones already released by DG. If that's so, it would be a pity; I'd buy them again, just to have them all as a uniform set.
     
    tones, Jun 9, 2009
  7. tones

    sydneyboy

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    I'm unsure as to how to get in on this. I found the site by accident and am also a Bach slave. I'm currently matching up the cantatas for each Sunday. Today is the 14th in Ordinary time and I've played nos.17 (Leonhardt), 25 and 78 (Suzuki-my set of choice). I'm very new to all this but having a whole lot of Bach fans to talk to seems like a nice idea. Sunday 5 July 2009
     
    sydneyboy, Jul 5, 2009
  8. tones

    sydneyboy

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    Ovpp

    Re OVPP-if you're all not quite over the argument yet-I like to have a bob each way. I have some of the Rifkins and am not keen on them. I keep them for the sake of reference and to keep an open mind. But I was in England last November and bought the Butt "St Matthew" and found that I liked it very much. I should add that I'm not a fan of McCreesh in this area either. The Butt I thought was interesting and at times very moving-my own love, however, is the Suzuki.
     
    sydneyboy, Jul 5, 2009
  9. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    G'day! (I have an Australian passport, am married to a Melbourne girl and have two Melbourne-born daughters). How do you join in? You have done so - welcome! I started this thread, because I have this addiction to Bach cantatas, which started with Werner's BWV140, heard one Saturday afternoon in about 1973 in Melbourne while working under the car. There are a lot of Bach fans here, but sometimes it gets a bit quiet.

    I can well understand your choice of Suzuki. Having already acquired the complete Rilling and Leusink sets, and not a few Suzukis, I agonised over Gardiner v. Suzuki, when the SDG stuff first appeared, finally going with Gardiner (the lower price had something to do with that). It's a decision that I haven't regretted, but I do still buy the occasional Suzuki.
     
    tones, Jul 5, 2009
  10. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    On the subject of cantatas, I've just acquired this:

    [​IMG]

    I was never impressed by what I heard of Koopman's CD releases, but this seems quite good so far. Interesting to see some of what I think of as "Gardiner's" players in the orchestra!

    I bought the Region 1 DVD, because it seems to be a lot more common than the Region 2 (and cheaper!).
     
    tones, Jul 5, 2009
  11. tones

    sydneyboy

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    G'day

    Thanks for the welcome. A question about the Brilliant Classics series. They're so amazingly cheap I had a few reservations (this from someone who buys Naxos without a qualm). How do they stack up against the Gardiner's ( which, while I don't dislike them neither do they excite me) or the Suzuki's. This question is for all who may want to answer. I saw some of the Brilliants at a cd shop on Bondi Beach a while back for A$10 a box. Didn't buy 'em-bad move?
     
    sydneyboy, Jul 8, 2009
  12. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    How big a box? Not the whole set box, I guess. Assuming the box contains at least 4 CDs, $AU10 is a bargain. I bought the entire set at some ridiculously low price from a German on-line retailer.. They simply aren't as polished as the Gardiners or the Suzukis, the soloists (instrumental and vocal) choir and orchestra sometimes let the side down, but there are some excellent performances in there. The main soprano is the Monteverdi Choir's Ruth Holton, whose voice has a boyish quality, and may be the closest approach to what the original would have sounded like. (As Gardiner pointed out on one of his DVDs, the voices that performed the originals no longer exist, as boys' voices broke much later in those days).
     
    tones, Jul 8, 2009
  13. tones

    sydneyboy

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    15 Sunday in Ordinary time.

    G'day, greetings and salutations,
    If I have it right today is the 15th Sunday after TRINITY and the cantatas for today are 138, 99,51(nice and short) and 100. Gllomy and wet in Sydney today -a great afternoon for Bach and then after that some more Bach. Enjoy your day
     
    sydneyboy, Jul 12, 2009
  14. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Here's the current list of SDG cantatas. Sad to see that BWV11 is missing - but then it's sometimes classified as an "oratorio", in spite if its numbering in the cantata series.
     

    Attached Files:

    tones, Jul 21, 2009
  15. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    [​IMG]

    A gorgeous CD. Bernarda Fink sang superbly in the Gardiner DVD of the "Christmas Oratorio", and here she does so again, giving a superb rendition of three of the Bach solo cantatas (strictly speaking, BWV169 isn't a solo cantata, as it has a chorale at the end, but anyway...). The singing is wonderful, the Freiburger Barockorchester provides an excellent accompaniment and the whole thing is very nicely recorded. Highly recommended.
     
    tones, Sep 6, 2009
  16. tones

    10strat

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    hi tones, Sunnyside_up and everyone else in this forum discussion. I'm new here and so pleased to find such a great discussion about Bach and the sacred cantatas of Bach. I have been a fan of the SDG series since it's first release of Volume 1 in the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage series. Wasn't at all suprised when it won disc of the year at the Gramophone awards.

    Highlights for me from the series so far is that wonderful opening chorus from BWV34 O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe (SDG121 - Vol 26) and the wonderful BWV 668 Vor deinen Thron tret’ ich hiermit, the so-called Deathbed Chorale on SDG159.

    I have also just received a copy of their new releases - the Brandenburg Concertos and the Bach Cantatas compilation 'Eternal Fire'. What joy to hear such great music and the genius of Bach. Love it.
     
    10strat, Oct 8, 2009
  17. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Hello! Another cantater is always welcome. I've just got the new set, with the Advent cantatas, including a version of BWV 147 Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben that knocks spots off any other version I have - the famous chorales are perfectly done, not too fast and not too slow.Also a great performance of BWV 70 Wachet! Betet!

    Rumour has it that Gardiner is negotiating with DG for the rights to release the ones already released on the Archiv set (about 4 of these were recorded on the Pilgrimage, the others are studio recordings going back to the early 1990s). I hope it comes off; I'd love to have the whole set in SDG form.
     
    tones, Nov 2, 2009
  18. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Almost there...

    A recent note from SDG:

    "It is hard to believe that it is now 10 years since the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage: it was such a momentous year in our lives, which seems so distant in time and yet still so vivid in our memories. Partly this is because of the CDs, as music brings back memories of the many adventures and the memorable concerts and events of that year....

    It seems appropriate that we shall be issuing all the remaining 8 CDs (four volumes) recorded by us in 2000 during this anniversary year, and the first volume is just about to arrive! It contains the cantatas for the second and third Sundays after Trinity."

    I remain hopeful that JEG will get the right to release the Pilgrimage recordings released by Archiv (about half of the twelve CDs), so that the set can be complete.
     
    tones, Feb 17, 2010
  19. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    A bit of good news from JEG:

    Also, I can announce that we have finally managed to get dates with the Monteverdi Choir and EBS to record the missing Ascension Cantatas next summer

    Excellent! The Ascension Cantatas are marvellous, especially BWV11 Lobet Gott in seinem Reichen. I'll be there...
     
    tones, May 19, 2010
  20. tones

    Marc

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    Tones??

    Mmm, somehow that name sounds familiair!

    ;)

    Welcome back!
     
    Marc, May 20, 2010
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