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Bach: Sacred Cantatas [Box set]

Johann Sebastian Bach , Nikolaus Harnoncourt , Gustav Leonhardt , Concentus Musicus Wien , Leonhardt Consort , Lieuwe Visser , Hanns-Friedrich Kunz , Max van Egmond , Harry van der Kamp , Robert Holl Audio CD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Performer: Lieuwe Visser, Hanns-Friedrich Kunz, Max van Egmond, Harry van der Kamp, Robert Holl
  • Orchestra: Concentus Musicus Wien, Leonhardt Consort
  • Conductor: Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gustav Leonhardt
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (December 20, 1994)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • 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: Teldec
  • ASIN: B000000SKY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,611 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Editorial Reviews

There are certain musical monuments to Western civilization that no music lover should be without, at least in part. These include Haydn's symphonies and string quartets, Mozart's piano concertos, Handel's oratorios, Beethoven's string quartets and piano sonatas, Scarlatti's keyboard sonatas, and this, perhaps the biggest monument of all, the Bach sacred cantatas. About 200 of them survive and at least 100 are lost. All of them consist of a series of arias, choruses, and hymns based on sacred texts. Bach had to compose a new one every week for several years, and what makes the music so amazing is not only its quantity, but its sheer quality. There is literally no such thing as "bad" Bach, and this series of performances not only stands as one of the great achievements in the history of recording, it introduced many listeners to the fascinating sound of "authentic instruments." Is this set too much of a good thing? Nah! --David Hurwitz

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The complete recording of Bach's Sacred Cantatas December 19, 1999
For a long time I was in doubt I should buy this set of CDs. After all, you don't spend hundreds of dollars, for 60 CDs, just out of a moment's thought! But let me tell you: These CDs are worth every cent!
This recording features all known sacred cantatas by Bach (about 200) in the best possible approximation to how they were performed in Bach's time: Baroque instruments, boy/men choirs, and almost all soprano solos are sung by boys, while alto solos are sometimes sung by boys, sometimes by countertenors.
The recordings were made over a number of years. The earlier ones feature mostly the Vienna Boy's Choir, while the later ones mostly are done by the Tölzer Knabenchor and the Knabenchor Hannover. A good number of soloists appear (too many to list here), and they are all at least very good, some are stunningly good! You have to hear the treble Peter Jelosits or the boy alto Panito Iconomou! Or Sebastian Hennig, or Helmut Wittek, and so many more... Listening to these CDs is untroubled enjoyment!
In my collection there are about 20 other recordings of Bach cantatas. Comparing them to the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt set, in only ONE case did another recording win: a tenor cantata sung by Peter Schreier. In ALL OTHER cases the recording reviewed here was superior!
I thought that it would be monotonous to listen to 200 Bach cantatas... Wrong! The genius of Bach, combined with this incredible performance, made me devour the 60 CDs at a stretch, over a full week, without loosing attention!
This is first-class music, by one of the best composers of all time, marvelously performed and perfectly recorded. Buy it. Don't wait as long as I did!
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recording's Greatest Achievement April 13, 2003
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. For it was during the 14 or so years of this recording project (between 1971 and 1985) that three of the greatest musicians of our time, Gustav Leonhardt, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Frans Bruggen forever altered the public's perception of the surviving remnants of Bach's fabled, but rarely heard, "Jahrgaenge", or yearly cycles of church cantatas. For this reason alone, this recording is of profound importance.
Leonhardt, with his consort in Amsterdam, and Harnoncourt, with his Concentus Musicus of Vienna shared the task of recording, with an unmatched team of vocal and instrumental soloists, Bach's roughly 200 surviving "concerti sacri", perhaps a further hundred being lost to us. It was a repertoire more honoured in the history books than experienced in performance. This enterprise changed that state of affairs for ever.
The arguments which are now sometimes made (chiefly by those who are unaware of the extraordinary and revolutionary step which these performances represented), decrying the slightly "raw" (I prefer "vocal") sound of original instruments, or the occasional shakiness of a boy soprano soloist, miss the point of this enterprise, which was to present the music in a new way using Bach's own contemporary resources.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Teldec Set Still Holds Up After 30 Years April 11, 2001
This set of almost 200 cantatas is, without a doubt, a milestone in recording history, and that alone makes it valuable. There are now at least two other competing sets on the market (Helmuth Rilling's complete set--on modern instruments, alas!--and Ton Koopman's period performance set still in the works), but this one, warts and all, still captivates and draws the listener into the world of Bach's cantatas like no other.
I would argue that no one can really claim to know Bach without knowing both his organ works and his cantatas. After all, this is the music that occupied him for most of his professional life. Most of these cantatas were written as part of his duties at Leipzig, and while in the hands of any lesser composer that might have meant uninspired music cranked out week by week out of necessity, Bach rarely, if ever, had an off day. Each cantata is a little world unto itself, a place you can retreat to for 20 minutes and either reflect on their spiritual message (which, be warned, is sometimes grim indeed), or just lose yourself in the beauty and grace of the melodic lines.
Harnoncourt and Leonhardt choose to keep these performances intimate; this is not the Bach of the concert hall; these are direct, personal expressions that work well in the private space of one's living room. Some of the playing sounds a bit shaky by today's standards--apparently some of the soloists were still discovering how to play period instruments that had not been heard in centuries--and the boy soloists seem to strain at their parts sometimes, especially in the earlier recordings, but that only adds to the charm: I much prefer the uncertain readings to letter-perfect performances offered by others.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It was maziing quality of CD.
The quality of CD was like new. Thank you very much for great CDs. It's already my important collection.
Published 1 month ago by Masahiro Yamamoto
5.0 out of 5 stars SImply put: DEFINITIVE!
There's not much that I can possibly add to the review of these performances that hasn't already been stated except to only say that these ARE definitive! Read more
Published on September 18, 2009 by N. Fronczak
5.0 out of 5 stars I love the music, but the cover art is satanic.
I love Bach's cantatas. They are a monument to his protestant faith. Contrasting with the Biblical lyrics in the cantatas is the artwork on the covers of the Cd's, and on the... Read more
Published on February 2, 2009 by manfrengensen
5.0 out of 5 stars Harnoncourt
The big CD collection of Harnoncourt is really to recommend to everybody who is interested in.

It is a wonderful collection, with alle the works of Bach. Read more
Published on September 24, 2005 by Parmis Parham
4.0 out of 5 stars As Close as I can Imagine for Authentic Bach
If you like your Bach with a heavy Bernstein beat, operatic sopranos, and a huge concert hall sound, or in contrast if you would like to hear Bach as his parishoners did, then... Read more
Published on August 1, 2005 by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars recommended
This complete set of Bach sacred cantatas is not only a bargain price, but it contains some of the most profound interpretations these pieces ever had. Read more
Published on December 7, 2002 by Popescu Lucian
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