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Bach Cantatas

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Posted on Jun 15, 2012 3:49:03 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 15, 2012 3:49:26 PM PDT]

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 8:25:28 PM PDT
A chorus is exciting. A chorale is boring. That's how I see it, anyway.
A chorus usually opens the cantata and is full of humph and trumpets. A chorale usually closes the cantata and they all sound the same, hence they bore me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 10:57:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 15, 2012 10:59:17 PM PDT
K. Bowersock says:
What a wonderful thread! Here are a few of my very favorite cantatas:

BWV 145, 170 (contains one of his most beautiful opening solos of course), 43, 67, 158, 1, 140, 167, 63, 45, 82, 133, 115, 102, 24, 76 (outstanding opening trumpet fanfare here), 135, 116, 180, 11, 139, 70 (outstanding opening chorus & soprano aria), 187, 87, 39 (one of his very great opening choruses; wonderful alto aria also), 33, 41, and 129.

Anyone else share in these?

I have been collecting Koopman's survey for about four years now - still working on acquiring the complete set. I'm also picking up some of Gardiner's records along the way. My bedrock however is Richter's set of 75 on Archiv; I could never part with it.

Posted on Jun 16, 2012 10:05:43 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 17, 2012 7:32:52 PM PDT
Mandryka writes, "Harnoncourt's not slick or uncommitted."

If this is in response to my post, I must not have expressed myself well enough, since I don't think that Harnoncourt is slick or uncommitted at all. On the contrary, I think he is fervently committed--a very passionate conductor. But I find his interpretations hit or miss. They can be too quirky, & overly dramatic at times. And he does fall into a rather teutonic way of beating out the rhythm mercilessly, of over emphasizing it, which doesn't always work for me (it may be more apparent in his Mozart choral set). Yet I used to be a big fan of his early Bach choral recordings in the days of the LP (especially his St. Matthew Passion), whatever their flaws. But today I feel that the early music movement has in recent decades surpassed these pioneering efforts, in a number of ways. And I would personally rather listen to Gardiner & Milnes in BWV 19 than Harnoncourt, but that's just my response. (Please don't take it personally, if that is the case, as I always value your views, even if I don't see things as you do, which happens occasionally--but less than you might think.)

Zadok writes, "MRS, I have those 4 volumes, which I like very much. However, no recording has been able to convince me that OVPP is better than the usual choir. Sadly, it seems that the label ATMA has dropped their project to record all of Bach's cantatas, as no new volume has appeared in eons. Mr Wallet, however, is quite pleased."

Yes, I keep waiting for more releases, but they don't come. (This is one instance where Mr.Wallet wouldn't mind taking a beating.) Giordano Bruno seems to think they are deliberately taking their time, to more thoroughly study & prepare than is the norm, but with each passing year that seems less likely (Kuijken is way ahead & he started his project later than Milnes). As for the choir size, from my research, there doesn't seem to have been a "usual choir" in Bach's time, except to say that it was generally much smaller than what the Italians managed (Scarlatti, etc.) Nor did Bach always double (or triple) the voices per part (read John Butt on this subject of the 'Dresden' Mass in B minor)--it varied with each performance, venue & part. I like OVPP most of all for the amazing clarity that it brings to Bach's contrapuntal conceptions--you really hear all the musical lines in sharp relief. And as I said earlier, I find this to be most joyfully realized in the way that Milnes & Montreal Baroque perform the wonderful opening fugal movement of Cantata BWV 19.

Posted on Jun 16, 2012 10:58:06 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 16, 2012 11:03:49 AM PDT
Mandryka says:
No, no, no. This software doesn't let me quote easily, sorry.

It was a response to Larry van de Sande who thinks that recent Bach performances are "ultra-suave and smooth but lacking similar conviction [compared with Prohaska, for example]"

Still I'm interested as always to read your post -- thanks for taking the trouble.

I've been listening to Harnoncourt's first record of the St John Passion today in fact -- with enormous pleasure. I like Equiluz very much.

Posted on Jun 16, 2012 11:17:59 AM PDT
Sorry I misunderstood, as I was the only one who had mentioned Harnoncourt.

Yes, Equiluz was one of the main reasons why I liked those early recordings on LP.

Posted on Jun 16, 2012 11:40:06 AM PDT
MRS, you got me curious, so I found this article, which I assume dates back to May 2011 :
I have yet to see them release this fifth album... and at that rate, it will take 100 years to release all the cantatas...

Posted on Jun 16, 2012 7:21:52 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 16, 2012 10:58:33 PM PDT
Zadok--Thanks so much for the update! As far as I can tell the Atma notice appears to be from June 8, 2010 (?) I gather they performed & recorded their 5th volume of Bach cantatas in late June of 2010. So, it sounds like Atma is going to be releasing more discs. However, at this rate they're not going to be the first ensemble to finish a complete OVPP Bach Cantata cycle, as was their initial claim, but you've given me hope...

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 16, 2012 10:00:56 PM PDT
A couple of excellent, off-the-beaten-track recordings of the St. John Passion:

Kenneth Slowik's HIP version on the Smithsonian label: St John Passion. Excellent soloists, and the set includes alternative arias and choruses from the 1725 version.

Wolfgang Gonnenwein's modern instrument version: Bach: St. John Passion. A lineup of soloists - including Crass, Moll, Fassbaender, and Equiluz - that is hard to better.

Rilling's on Hanssler Bach: St. John Passion, BWV 245 is also excellent.


Posted on Jun 18, 2012 6:30:12 PM PDT
M. Mitchell says:
I am very new to Bach Cantatas, but found this great deal on Amazon and downloaded it immediately (Mainly for the Teresa Stich-Randall selections). It is less than $9.00 and is hours of music. Cantata No. 51: Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen! (Trinity), BWV51 iii. Aria (Soprano): Höchster, mache deine Güte I can't find the link to the whole album, but you can get there from the single track page.

Thank you all for an interesting thread to read! The mere number of the Cantatas is very daunting- it's nice to have insight into a few of them instead of diving headfirst into any of them.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 6:35:26 PM PDT
KenOC says:
Looks good. Lots of Woldike and Prohaska in this set.

Posted on Jun 18, 2012 9:04:23 PM PDT
Here's your link : Bach: Cantatas - enjoy !

Posted on Jun 18, 2012 9:06:00 PM PDT
As long as I am here - the CD that got me hooked on Bach and his cantatas : Bach: Magnificat - Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen.

Posted on Jun 19, 2012 4:42:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 19, 2012 4:53:59 AM PDT
Both the recordings listed, the Bach Guild collection (many in mono and recorded in the 1950s) and the Emma Kirkby/Gardiner collaboration, are in my list of greatest Bach cantata recordings.

So is this one recently reinvented by Novalis. Formerly released by Hannsler Classics and part of Helmuth Rilling's set of all the cantatas, it features (60-year-old) Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Arlene Auger in cantatas BWV 51, 56, 140 and 145. Rilling is a middle man between the 1950s authenticity and the period performance movement that swept music beginning in the middle 1960s. I find these moderated performances the best balance of scholarship, blood and lightning.

Another one not included in the Bach Guild download, and perhaps the greatest rendering ever of the death-weary BWV 78, is this historic rendering from Prohaska and Alfred Deller of cantatas 78 and 106. I read a review of a new version of these last year that referred to this difficult-to-find recording. Deller was probably the first countertenor of fame in classical circles.

Posted on Jun 19, 2012 3:05:26 PM PDT
Cantata sets, for those interested :
J. S. Bach: The Complete Cantatas Box - Rilling
Complete Cantatas - Koopman
Bach: The Sacred Cantatas [Box Set] - Harnoncourt
Bach: Cantatas Volumes 1-5 (75 Cantatas for Sundays and Feast Days of the Church Year)

Posted on Jun 20, 2012 7:39:24 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 20, 2012 9:32:19 PM PDT
I thought this performance was very beautiful (by Damien Guillon & Le Banquet Céleste):

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2012 10:55:03 AM PDT
Mandryka says:
Here's Widerstehe doch der Sünde, BWV 54 with Glenn Gould and Russell Oberlin.

I think it's very good, though I prefer the Deller record, which is here
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  33
Total posts:  117
Initial post:  Mar 11, 2009
Latest post:  Jul 20, 2012

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