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Bach: The Sacred Cantatas [Complete, Nos 1-199] Box set

31 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, January 15, 2008
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$168.01 $166.36
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Frequently Bought Together

Bach: The Sacred Cantatas [Complete, Nos 1-199] + The Cantatas of J. S. Bach: With Their Librettos in German-English Parallel Text
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Editorial Reviews

Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt were at the forefront of the early music movement that swept classical music in the '70s and '80s, performing pieces from the canon with period instruments in order to re-create the original intent of the composer as closely as possible. And their most enduring legacy is right here, the complete survey of Bach's sacred cantatas that they began in 1971 and completed in 1988. This body of work has served as a beacon for younger musicians seeking a fuller understanding of Bach's work, and will forever be regarded as one of the pioneering projects in the history of recording classical music. 60 CDs in all. "Brilliant"- New York Times.

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Product Details

  • Conductor: Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gustav Leonhardt
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (January 15, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 60
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B000RZOR2U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,905 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Peter G. Watchorn on November 8, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I first wrote this review in 2003 for the previous incarnation of this set. I see that it is now down to under $250 in its new compact format. When I acquired the original LP sets (with scores) between 1971 & 1989 the cost was over $1,300. It is still the greatest and most powerful recording in existence of these works, for, with its various blemishes, it contains the most eloquent musicianship of the pioneers of the Early Music revival from Vienna and Amsterdam. The blemishes are important too, as they eloquently document the rapid development of skills necessary to realise one of the leading musical ideas of our time: attempting to get as close as possible to the actual sounds the composers heard when they wrote their music. As a next-generation member of this fraternity (I am a professional harpsichordist, organist and co-director of several ensembles specializing in Bach's music, and have worked with many of the people on these recordings. I have also written a major biography of one of the members of the generation before Leonhardt & Harnoncourt, the Viennese harpsichordist Isolde Ahlgrimm), I can only reiterate even more strongly what I wrote five years ago and urge lovers of Bach to acquire this set immediately. Here is my original review:

Had this set not been made, then the history of performance practice in the last quarter of the 20th century and beyond would have proceeded very differently. Had this set not been made we would not have many of the current leading figures in the field of early music performance, nearly all of whom were in some way connected with the performance revolution which found its most profound expression in these recordings.
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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful By N. Chevalier on February 4, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Like Peter Watchorn, I also reviewed this same set in its $550.00 incarnation, and bought, over a period of several years, all 10 of the six-CD volumes. Each purchase only confirmed for me what I initially believed: that the apparent roughness of these performances actually enhanced rather than diminished the value of the music. Bach's cantatas are not musical bonbons, but serious works of religious art. Serious, of course, doesn't mean stuffy or boring, and every cantata in this set offers at least one movement--and frequently several--of profound, exquisite beauty. There is the full range of human experience here: joy, sorrow, terror, despair, and--perhaps most often--deep, mature, boundless love.

I'll avoid commenting on the performances again--see my review of the old box set for details--and what others say on this site pretty much matches my own view of this set. But I will comment on the price, which is both a delight (for those contemplating getting a set of Bach's cantatas) and a frustration (for people like me who paid twice as much to own the same music). Bach's cantatas are not nearly as well-known as they should be--now there's no reason everyone can't own their own set of first-rate recordings.

One more piece of advice: Since this set is so reasonably priced, I'd highly recommend that you take some of the cash you have saved and invest in Alfred Durr's The Cantatas of JS Bach, now in paperback from Oxford University Press. Durr wrote many of the notes for the original Telefunken vinyl recordings, but this book offers the complete German texts and a parallel English translation that is superb (better than the often-ridiculous translations supplied with the Teldec CDs, by the way).
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Plotkin on October 28, 2008
Format: Audio CD
This is the landmark 60-CD set of the complete Bach sacred cantatas recorded by period instrument pioneers Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt with their respective original instrument ensembles Concentus Musicus Wein and the Leonhardt Consort between the early '70's and the late 80's for Teldec. I bought this in its previous incarnation, the most expensive single recorded music purchase I ever made at $400, it takes up what seems like three feet of space on my shelf, and I have never regretted it, out-of-tune boy sopranos, scratchy violas, an oboe d'amore player who seems to be learning his instrument over the course of several discs, and all. This is not period Bach delivered with the swing and polish of John Eliot Gardiner, this is raw, immediate, intimate and from the gut. And it just got hundreds of dollars cheaper. I don't know if this means a reduction in the copious annotation (hundreds of pages of commentary and translation) that accompanied my older edition, which would be a pity, because this set was both a labor of scholarship and a labor of love. But there is music enough here to last a lifetime, the very heart of Bach's oeuvre.

The aforementioned occasional failures of intonation and the deliberately scaled-down instrumentation and choral forces only serve to heighten the sense of direct communion with God; this is honest, not pious, and the rawness of the peformances convey a sense of fear, trembling, awe, and humility in the face of the Almighty. Other recordings may be smoother, but none are as powerful and direct.
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Bach: The Sacred Cantatas [Complete, Nos 1-199]
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