9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Here's the Good News...,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Cantatas Vol. 34 (BWV 1, 126, 127) [Hybrid SACD] / Bach Collegium Japan * Suzuki (Audio CD)
If you already own a complete Bach cantata set, or even a raft of separate cantata CDs by various ensembles, you definitely won't need to replace all those disks with the complete Bach Collegium Japan. I offer this rash assertion, I confess, on the basis of hearing two CDs only, numbers 34 and 31 of the series. There's nothing unpleasant about either performance, but they are not as exciting as the Gardiner Bach Pilgrimage performances, nor as polished as the disks by Ton Koopman, nor as insightful as the original complete cantatas by Leonhardt and Harnoncourt, nor as lively as the performances by the Netherlands Bach Collegium, under Pieter Jan Leusink, in the Brilliant Classics complete Bach Edition.
What's good about the BCJ effort? The orchestra is outstanding, especially the double reeds. Tenor Gerd Turk is surely one of the best Bach voices of our times, bass Peter Kooij is excellent, and male alto Robin Blaze has a cultivated technique if not much emotional depth. The recording quality on these SACD disks is better than the norm of the previous complete cantata editions.
What's not so good? On this disk, #34, the soprano Carolyn Sampson doesn't satisfy my expectations in terms of pitch, and I don't find her phrasing very expressive. Conductor Masaaki Suzuki handles the martial and triumphant arias with effective marcato, but fails to yield his baton to the passages calling for serenity - what Schweitzer called Bach's "rhythm of blessedness." Thus the mood tends to remain much the same throughout. The weakest weakness, as is often so, is the chorus. It's devilishly hard to reproduce the sound of a chorus on digital CDs, and even the SACD technology doesn't prevent the typical "car radio" distortion. However, the chorus seems to have been coached to attack every 'big' note with a ragged emphasis that annoys me considerably. German vowels, forgive me for saying so, are not easily mastered; in this case, the rendering of most vowels as AA, II, UU, EE, or OO distorted both the text and the tuning.
Even so, in the balance these are worthy performances, though somehow not quite as fine, to my ears, as some of the others. A really earnest fan of Bach's cantatas would do well to select a few of her/his favorites and hear the BCJ performances thereof. Perhaps you'll hear virtues that I missed.
Tracked by 1 customer
Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 18, 2008 9:17:41 PM PST
James E. Egolf says:
I would not be able to discern German vowels. This review is very useful to those who have technical knowledge of music and know German.
Posted on Feb 18, 2009 12:47:04 PM PST
This review is just as useful to those that don't.
Posted on Mar 21, 2012 2:45:04 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 21, 2012 2:48:44 PM PDT
Mr. Bruno, as it is usually the case with SACD from BIS, 24bit FLAC downloads are available through eclassical.com
Which would you expect to sound better? (nor about this specific release, but as a general question)
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2012 5:35:47 PM PDT
In general? probably the 24bit FLAC. But there are so many other variables on both ends ....
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2012 6:02:08 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 21, 2012 7:22:32 PM PDT
I see. In fact, I asked you this question because I was thinking about this release from the New York Polyphony, available on either SACD and 24bit FLAC:
By the way, have you heard this ensemble?
From the video I watched, they seem to be good:
Posted on Mar 22, 2012 4:30:46 PM PDT
By the way, since this is a review of a Bach recording, I'd like to bring to your attention, in case you don't know it already, that there is a great 27-disc box set of Herreweghe's recordings of Bach from Harmonia Mundi (9 sets of CD-books). Unfortunately, it's not listed here on Amazon (it may never be), but it can be found on the UK counterpart or other suppliers.
Posted on Apr 13, 2012 8:31:57 AM PDT
Mr. Bruno, where have you been? Are you really done with amazonia reviews? If so, I would like to thank you for all your careful reviews. I've learned a lot from them in the past 2 years in which I've been enjoying and collecting sacred vocal music.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 13, 2012 8:38:45 AM PDT
Thanks, Couperin. I'm still getting comments forwarding to an e-mail address, but I've resolved to write no more reviews. There's too much acrimony polluting the Amazon. But here's a hot tip on Bach cantatas:
JS Bach Easter and Ascension Oratorios
Posted on Apr 13, 2012 2:50:44 PM PDT
Well, my CD player is malfunctioning and GB isn't writing reviews. At least Summer is nigh, and it's expected to be a hot one. I'll spend more time listening to cicadas and crickets.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›