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Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

Cantata BWV 106
Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit (Actus Tragicus)
Discussions - Part 1

Gardiner cantatas

Benjamin Mullins wrote (February 28, 1999):
[21] For those of you who have heard it, what is your opinion of Gardiner's recording of cantatas BWV 106, BWV 118, & BWV 198? And is there any more news of his year 2000 cantatas project?

Ryan Michero wrote (March 2, 1999):
Simon Crouch wrote:
[21] < For me, the BWV 106 is a letdown - it just comes over as dull and JEG seems not to know what to do with the quiet movement endings. Compare this with, for example, Leonhardt [18] (one of the highpoints of the Teldec complete set), and there's really no competition. >
I love Leonhardt's version of Cantata BWV 106 [18] --spiritually intense and quite moving. However, I have always thought something was missing from it, probably due to my inherent dissatisfaction with Harnoncourt and Leonhardt's performance practices. To the point, I want women to sing the high voices, especially the achingly beautiful cries of "Ja, Komm Herr Jesu", which never fail to move me when sung by the right voice. Recently, I found what is for me the perfect recording of the "Actus Tragicus", and it is by Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan [26]. I suppose the volume on which it is included is as good a place as any to begin my series of reviews of the Suzuki cantata cycle. I know at least one of you (are you listening, Ehud?) has been awaiting these, and, although I have been slacking on the writing end of it, I have been doing some careful listening lately. I'll begin posting soon!

Andrea Klassen wrote (March 5, 1999):
[21] I know this thread has come and gone but here's my two cents (canadian funds). I'm responding because I can't believe all the negative postings about this recording.

Benjamin Mullins wrote:
< For those of you who have heard it, what is your opinion of Gardiner's recording of cantatas BWV 106, BWV 118b, & BWV 198? And is there any more news of his year 2000 cantatas project? >
This is the first Bach recording I ever purchased and it remains one of my favourites. I think the recording is extremely dramatic (especially the ending of the soprano solo in 106) and Gardiner's interpretation of Bach's symbolism can be heard. My only quam with this CD is that the altos sing a significant phrase of their cantus firmus melody very out of tune on the low side (Wie Gott DIR verheissen hat). Gardiner captures the depth of BWV 106. (Snip)

Simon Crouch wrote:
[21] < For me, the BWV 106 is a letdown - it just comes over as dull and JEG seems not to know what to do with the quiet movement endings. Compare this with, for example, Leonhardt [18] (one of the highpoints of the Teldec complete set), and there's really no competition. >
I also find this unbelieveable. I have yet to find another soprano who can pull off the ending of the solo with the alte Bund fugue. Nancy Argenta fades away into nothing and leaves me hanging on this unresolved leading tone that waits for Jesus to come because the Law states that mankind will perish: I find tension unbearable. This cantata offers so much and I can't find another recording which is up to the challenge. Suzuki's [26] is good but too mathematical and I can't remember if Herreweghe has recorded it or not but I'm looking for it, he can do it if noone else can. I haven't heard the Leonardt recording but I have this block regarding that set which I'll get over some day. Anyway, There it is.

 

BWV 106 - Koopman [25]/Gardiner [21]

Steven Langley Guy wrote (August 24, 1999):
Someone wrote:
< I'm curious about the dynamics. I don't know if the choir would have echoed the band's dynamic markings, at least not the loud ones. A six member orchestra is not much of a match for a 16 to 20 voice choir, particularily since five of the six (all six depending on the keyboard being harpsicord or organ) aren't able to play very loud at the best of times. From my experience, recorders have essentially one dynamic because if you blow harder you'll sharp and if you blow too softly you'll flat. Gambas also don't have the most penetrating sound so the choir may not have taken their cue from the parts which they wouldn't have seen anyway. Talk to you later >
There is no solo or tutti marked in either the soprano or ATB parts. One could, perhaps have all parts, including the soprano, sung by the full choir. Not an ideal solution, admittedly, but plausible. I think that BWV 106 is a clear example of where the one-voice-to-a-part chorus would have advantages. I think that 16 to 20 singers here is absolutely out of the question. The French style recorders tuned a tone lower than the German instruments at Chorton pitch (oboes, bassoons, the redesigned flutes and recorders from France at this time were generally considered B flat instruments in Germany where the old high pitch was still common) would only hold against a small number of singers, even though the two recorders are in unison throughout in the movement in question.

Both the text and the musical material of the Alto, Tenor and Bass vocal parts suggest a stronger, if not louder, tone. Leaving solo voices to finish a tutti movement is not an innovation unique in Bach's music. Monteverdi lets two solo tenors gently finish the 'Laudate, pueri, Domine' psalm of the 'Vespro della Beata Vergine' 1610. Praetorius and Schütz also use a similar dramatic technique in various works.

Most of the current recordings of BWV 106 pit a solo soprano against the ATB tutti choir. I think this works fine as long as there is only a small choir, say, 4 to 10 singers.

As I said in an earlier comment, Bach must have had a pretty good say in how these cantatas were performed. We have to make educated guesses about what will and will not work in a given performing situation. BWV 106 has quite a lot of dynamics supplied by the composer but still needs some thinking about much of the score, as in any baroque work.

Ambroz Bajec-Lapajne wrote (August 26, 1999):
After a long time hello again!

I like Gardiner's version [21] best. It was the first CD I bought from him and was totally shocked. Rolfe-Johnson is wonderful and Nancy Argenta finishing the first part is sublime. I just met Nancy Argenta on Monday in Radovljica (near Ljubljana) where she had a recital. She is just as wonderful to talk to as when she sings! I can't wait to come to see her and have some lessons in London.

We in Ljubljana did this cantata with Slovenicum ensemble last season with 16 singers and it was great. It is more difficult to put together all the consonances in 'Es ist der alte Bund' than when one listens to it on the CD. Unfortunatelly the conductor decided that all the sopranos would sing the 'komm, Herr Jesu' part but only one of them finnishing the movement. Nevertheless in was a great experience, as were all the other cantatas we did (BWV 21 and BWV 208).

 

BWV 106 + BWV 198

Adam N. LaSpata wrote (October 14, 1999):
Can anyone recommend a recording of the Actus Tragicus and Trauer Ode? What are some opinions on the JEG recording? Thanks.

Donald Satz wrote (October 14, 1999):
Adam asked for recommendations for recordings of BWV 106 and BWV 198. The only recording I'm aware of that has both these cantatas is the Gardiner on Archiv. That's a fine recording, but I do have reservations about Nancy Argenta. BWV 106 is on Koopman's series, Vol.1, but that has Barbara Schlick and I consider her voice relatively unpleasant to listen to. That leaves me with the American Bach Soloists on Koch [23] and Suzuki on BIS [26] for BWV 106; either one should provide much pleasure.

Jacco Vink wrote (October 14, 1999):
I saw that Cantus Cölln have recorded BWV 106 for Harmonia Mundi French [37]. I am not if it is already available. So it might be worth waiting for. I have myself Suzuki in BWV 106 [26], which I like very much. It is coupled with Aus der Tiefen (BWV 131) and Gott ist mein König (BWV 71). In this discussion group the performance of BWV 106 by Leonhardt [18] was discussed favourably. I do not know it myself.

Ehud Shiloni wrote (October 14, 1999):
If you search the Archives you'll find lots stuff about these two. My own "rating" for BWV 106:

1. [20] Rifkin (One-voice-per-part. Not to everyone's liking).
2. [21] JEG

Others: Koopman [25], Suzuki [26], & Gönnenwein [10].
Leonhardt [18] (which I don’t have) was highly praised by most everybody.

D. D. Wickford wrote (October 15, 1999):
Please don't forget the WONDERFUL recording by Joshua Rifkin and the Bach Ensemble, coupled with BWV 131 (a much more appropriate coupling than the Trauer Ode) on L’Oiseau-Lyre [20].

If you don't mind modern instruments, and there are some of us who prefer them, the old Scherchen recording of BWV 106 [4] is the ne plus ultra.

 

More on the Actus Tragicus

Steven Langley Guy wrote (October 15, 1999):
Actus Tragicus is certainly one of Bach's finest cantatas. Bach left quite a few piano & forte marks through the work or at least more than normally occur in cantatas. One may deduce that Bach must have had a fairly precise interpretation in mind - or he felt that the singers and musicians needed more printed directions than was usual? As for the tempi in the work, we must make educated guesses - like in Baroque music in general. I think that in the recent past some conductors have tended to play some Baroque music a little too fast (Musica Antiqua's Brandenburgs come to mind) to compensate for the nearly funereal pace of earlier non-HIP performances. Many of us have heard some of the exceedingly slow old-fashioned performances of the Passions and although these recordings may be very moving they do not give the works a decent sense of pace and drama.

On the other hand, recent recordings of Bach seem to reflect a more reasonable approach to tempo and are not so extreme. I've heard faster recordings of BWV 106 and slow recordings too. I honestly cannot say anymore which approach I prefer! I think that if one listen to enough recordings or performances of a work one will eventually have a mental 'picture' of the work that stands outside of the recordings one has heard. Does this make sense? The beauty of the work seems to transcend even recordings of the work and takes on a life of its own.

Back to BWV 106, one must consider the phrasing of the work along with its tempi. Too long and too slow phrases are going to leave the recorder players gasping for breath, also the bows of the two gambas were shorter than modern 'cello bows and this also affects the phrasing. Shorter phrases and quick tempi probably would help out the boys singing the soprano parts in Bach's day and Bach must have considered this when writing the music.

I'd love to see a recording that featured BWV 106 with the motet movement BWV 118, BWV 53 and BWV 131.

Carl Burmeister wrote (October 16, 2000):
I am new to the list so please forgive me if I break some rules of etiquette (such as inserting these comments in an existing thread?).

Steven Langley Guy wrote:
< On the other hand, recent recordings of Bach seem to reflect a more reasonable approach to tempo and are not so extreme. I've heard faster recordings of BWV 106 and slow recordings too. I honestly cannot say anymore which approach I prefer! I think that if one listens to enough recordings or performances of a work one will eventually have a mental 'picture' of the work that stands outside of the recordings one has heard. Does this make sense? The beauty of the work seems to transcend even recordings of the work and takes on a life of its own. >
I have some fairly strong opinions myself on tempi used in the cantatas and Passions. I grew up on a recording of SMP (BWV 244) by Hermann Scherchen and the VPO (I believe). In my memory, it remains the most sublime recording that I have ever heard. Of Course, Huges Ceunod as the Evangelist didn't hurt a bit. The tempi in this recording are all much slower than any recording I have heard since. And in fact I am almost unable to appreciate any other interpretation of Recitative and Chor "Nun ist der Herr zu Ruh gebtacht".

As to our understanding or "at one"-ness with a piece of music, especially Bach, eventually transcending any individual performance, I can personally vouch for having had this experience.

And as to religion, I too am non-religious, even anti-religious at times. I credit Bach for my remaining in the Lutheran church as long as I did. However, I believe passionately in 1. That Music transcends religion, 3. That music is our pipeline to God and 4. That Bach gave us the biggest pipeline of all time.

Donald Satz wrote (October 16, 1999):
[20] Thanks. I had forgotten about them in my previous posting. I like Rifkin's Bach very much as I think he's very expressive and emphasises those aspects of the cantatas I appreciate most. The one-voice-per-part approach not only doesn't bother me, I find it an enjoyable alternative.

Ambroz Bajec-Lapajne wrote (October 15, 1999):
[21] This (BWV 106) is the first CD of Gardiner that I've bought (though I have had the Magnificat on tape already) and I was totally enraptured by the interpretation. It was for me a revelation of Bach. I don't consider his tempo fast at all. We have to consider that in Bach's time (especially for him as a very religious person) death was something he considered from a very different perspective as we do today. Hence the faster tempo has an entirely other meaning than a slow one. I always have a feeling listening to Gardiner recordings (and not Bach only!) that this man does the incredible amount of research before he undertakes the studies of scores and later recordings. Therefore I can not accept a fact or notion that the tempi he uses are fast only (or partly) because his singers in Monteverdi Choir can sing like crazy and instrumentalist play respectively. I think JEG is far too clever for such an enterprise.

And I absolutely adore Nancy Argenta and what she does in the end of a choir (Ja, komm, Herr Jesu). Her voice just evaporates into that desperate cry - do come Jesus already!

Wim Huisjes wrote (October 15, 1999):
I don't see your point. These are religious works and should be performed and listened to as such. From which perspective should we listen to it today, whether you are religious or not? Why should it be faster from "today's perspective of death"? Please, elaborate.

As has been mentioned on this list quite a while back: Gardiner makes Argenta sound like an angel. She shouldn't be one in BWV 106. Gardiner has his Reformation theology up side down in this one and therefore, IMO, it is a bad performance, no matter the tempi and regardless of how beautiful it sounds.

[21] If you mean to say it should NOT be performed from Bach's perspective, why should Gardiner bother with HIP? Others do/have done a lot of research also and come up with different tempi. Why should he be the only one who's right?

Of course he doesn't choose fast tempi just bechis choir and orchestra can do it. If that were the case, we'd have a SMP (BWV 244) performance that would take maybe 40 minutes. Advantage would be that it would fit on one CD... Besides, others can do that also.

Donald Satz wrote (October 15, 1999):
Wim Huisjes wrote concerning Bach sacred cantatas: “These are religious works and should be performed and listened to as such.”

Being totally non-religious, I can't possibly listen on a religious level. I listen on a dramatic and/or theatrical level. That does it for me. And, I don't deny that the level upon which a person listens can significantly impact the judgement of a particular performance.

I've heard some folks say that Gardiner is not for them, because his interpretations slight the religious aspects of a sacred work. I understand that, but it is not applicable to my listening, and as a result, I can and do greatly enjoy Gardiner's recordings of Bach sacred works. Works performed in a highly "pious" manner are not likely to get my seal of approval.

Jan Hanford wrote (October 15, 1999):
Nicely said, I completely agree.

Wim Huisjes wrote (October 15, 1999):
OK, you'll have no problems with me. Let me re-phrase the line you quoted: "These are religious works and should be performed as such". Everyone is entitled to listen the way they want.

Luis Villalba wrote (October 15, 1999):
I, being also non-religious, add myself to your views. I don't remember who was the extremely wise man who said God should have existed, just to listen to what Bach composed for him.

Wim Huisjes wrote (October 15, 1999):
A similar (or maybe the same quote is intended), precise quote comes from Klemperer: "If God did not exist, Bach invented him".

To make my view clearer: Bach was making a point, and in understanding his music I think the listener should at least try to have some idea on what that point was, whether you believe it or not. If one considers his cantatas etc. as drama, theatre or whatever: one should at least know what it's about. The same goes for the performer. Judging Klemperer's performance of SMP (BWV 244): I think he got it right, though he didn't necessarily believe it.

Ambroz Bajec-Lapajne wrote (October 17, 1999):
Firstly I have to explain and warn that I have no intentions and it would be utterly improper to start another 'tempi-discussion' so I will really shortly explain what I meant with my previous post.

< I don't see your point. These are religious works and should be performed and listened to as such. From which perspective should we listen to it today, whether you are religious or not? Why should it be faster from "today's perspective of death"? Please elaborate. >
The conception of death in the Bach times (as indeed before and later) was a different one that we have nowadays. Today death is perceived as something that people fear and a death experience is for those close to the deceased something extremely sad. In those days death was a salvation from this (unperfect, sinful) world and the beginning of an eternal life in heaven - under a condition of course that you reached it. I do not mean people died gladly, or that they didn't mourn over the deceased. This is what I meant by the saying that since Bach was a very religious person he felt this perhaps even stronger than others (bearing in mind that he was an artist too) did. His funeral music is therefore written in somewhat different motion as we are used today. And if we consider this hypothesis of mine, perhaps we see that the funeral music needs not to be as dark and sad in order to translate it to the cultural language of today. Listen to Purcell Funeral sentences and you will notice the very similar feeling. I hope I haven't been too philosophical, and I might add that I have not been raised in any religion and am an agnostic.

< As has been mentioned on this list quite a while back : Gardiner makes Argenta sound like an angel. She shouldn't be one in BWV 106. Gardiner has his Reformation theology up side down in this one and therefore, IMO, it is a bad performance, no matter the tempi and regardless of how beautiful it sounds. >
I'm not saying that she sings as an angel - for me she is the desperate cry (in the night, if you will) for God.

< If you mean to say it should NOT be performed from Bach's perspective, why should Gardiner bother with HIP? >
Quite 'au contraire' my friend - his interpretation absolutely fits my hypothesis on Bach perception of death.

< Others do/have done a lot of research also and come up with different tempi. Why should he be the only one who's right? >
My, my, you are a militant chap. I never claimed his is the only right one. I personally believe that music is a matter of taste. However, Early Music is a subject to heavy disputes simply because we have so little knowledge of the performance practice. There is enough of so called HIP, so that you have the ability to choose the one you like most. JEG just has that something for me that he persuades me with his interpretation as well as answers my questions rather sufficiently.

Wim Huisjes wrote (October 17, 1999):
Thanks for the clarification. I understand what you mean now, though I don't necessarily agree. I'm still having trouble with the concept of "today's perception of death". IMO today there is no such generally accepted concept. At most, any perception of death is more individually determined than in Bach's time and the society he was part of. One extreme: for some, little has changed. Another extreme: for others Bach's perception may seem as coming from another planet. So, on your conclusion we agree: what we prefer in performances is determined very much individually.

As others do: I also hope Gardiner will record more cantatas. My comment was focused on his performance of BWV 106 [21].

Luc Oldhoff wrote (November 25, 1999):
I am new to this forum, but not new to Bach! So far I have quite enjoyed the reading the discussions going back and forth.

I have a few of Bach's cantatas and one of my very favourite movements is the short but very moving Sonatina in cantata BWV 106. The recording I have is from Das Kantatenwerk by Leonhardt/Harnoncourt [18]. There is a haunting quality to the recording that I find absolutely irresistible. Does anyone agree?

Are there any worthwhile Bach - mp3's to be had out there? Before investing in a new CD, listening to a mp3 sample can be a worthwhile exercise.

Jane Newble wrote (November 26, 1999):
It sounds as if I shall now have to get this one as well! I love that Sonatina, but I only have Suzuki [26] and Koopman [25]. Not that I should complain about them, they are wonderful. And to me these recordings sound haunting too. Sometimes I think I love a particular recording, and then hear it performed by someone else and love it just as much in a different way. So I have come to the conclusion that Bach can be interpreted in many ways, and that it is Bach behind the recording that speaks to me.

I have been thinking that I ought to at least get all the cantatas by Leonhardt/Harnoncourt [18]. And I wonder what the Rilling BWV 106 [16] is like?

 

Suzuki - Vol. 2

Ryan Michero wrote (December 20, 1999):
[26] If Vol.1 was a bit tentative, Vol. 2 is where Suzuki and the BCJ really hit their stride. It includes great performances of two "favourite" cantatas (BWV 106 and BWV 131, the latter a particular favourite of Suzuki) and one lesser-known piece (BWV 71). This is an essential volume!

BWV 106 - "Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit"
Another inspired performance! The opening Sonatina is taken slower than normal, but I find it incredibly moving. This is as fine an evocation of heavenly peace as I have ever heard. The recorders and violas da gamba sound simply beautiful together (this is the early Weimar version, sans obo). Suzuki brings drama to the following multi-sectioned movement, making perfect sense of the changes in text and music. There is lovely singing and playing throughout, and the trailing off of the soprano at the end is handled beautifully. Aki Yanagisawa's young, boyish voice is perfect for the final cries of "Ja, komm, Herr Jesu". The ending nearly stops my heart whenever I hear it. The third movement is hardly less involving. Mera deserves special mention for his wonderful singing in the section beginning "In deine Hände". The final chorus begins peacefully with a beautiful Bachian melody on the recorders. The choir, in open harmony, sounds delectably serene. A happily sung fugue brings the work to a bright, hopeful end.

 

Cantus Cölln

Johan van Veen wrote (February 29, 2000):
[37] Some time ago there was a discussion on the performance practice of Bach's cantatas in which every part is sung by only one singer. A new recording has just been released with four cantatas performed this way, by the German ensemble Cantus Cölln. I would like to give my impressions. First the details.

Four cantatas are performed (in this order):
1) Christ lag in Todesbanden (BWV 4)
2) Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit (BWV 106)
3) Der Herr denket an uns (BWV 196)
4) Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (BWV 12)

The ensemble Cantus Cölln consists of:
Johanna Koslowsky (Soprano), Elisabeth Popien (Contralto), Gerd Türk, Wilfried Jochens (tenor), Stephan Schreckenberger (bass), Karin van Heerden, Beate Knobloch (recorder), Uwe Hartwich (trumpet), Katharina Arfken (oboe), Andrea Keller, Werner Ehrhardt (violin), Antje Sabinski, Claudia Steeb (viola), Werner Matzke (cello), Jean-Michel Forest (violin), Lorenzo Alpert (bassoon), Carsten Lohff (organ)
Director is Konrad Junghänel.

The performances are excellent from a technical point of view. All players belong to the very best on the early music scenes. The string players for example are all members of Concerto Koln, one of the best orchestras in baroque and classical music.

One of the preconditions for a successful on-to-a-part performance is that the voices blend. You just can't put some solo singers together and hope they will do their best to sound like an ensemble. But although these singers all have solo careers, they work together very closely in this ensemble, and have done so for years. That definitely pays off. The Choruses and chorales as well as the duets sound great. They all use hardly any vibrato, and in particular in some Choruses where the harmonies are very important, that has a very striking (positive) effect on the emotional impact of the performance.

The program contains four early cantatas, all composed around or before 1714. I don't know what view Konrad Junghänel holds on the point of one-to-a-part performances (the booklet doesn't give any information about that), but in general the performance of early cantatas in this manner doesn't meet as much opposition as does such a performance practice in the Leipzig cantatas.

What about the interpretation? My feelings about that are somewhat mixed. I feel that the emotional content of some of the cantatas isn't fully exploited.

Cantata BWV 106, also known as 'Actus Tragicus' and one of the most brilliant cantatas Bach has ever composed, is also done quite well. The contrast in the Chorus 'Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit' comes across well. On the whole the tempo in this cantata is a little too fast, but otherwise the singers and players are convincing in their expression of the character of this piece. The pitch used isn't mentioned, but I assume it must be the high pitch, which is thought to be used by Bach in the early cantatas. The consequence is that in the duet 'Heute wirst du mit mir im Paradies sein' the bass part is sung by a tenor (Wilfried Jochens). I can't quite figure out how the Alto part is sung: it sounds like Soprano and Alto are singing in unison.

As far as the instrumental aspect of this CD is concerned, the players may be technically better than for example those on the Teldec recording. But they are far less colourful. What I am missing is the characterisation of the content of the text by the instruments. They are too often just accompanying the singers.

On the whole, an interesting recording, and - with all the reservations I have - one of the best of its kind.

M. Saramago wrote (February 29, 2000):
[37] Hi Johan. Thanks for your impressions on that cantata CD. Could you tell us the label and if possible the catalogue number?

Johan van Veen wrote (March 1, 2000):
[37] Sorry I forgot that. It is on Harmonia Mundi France - HMC 901694; playing time: 70'23".

Frank Fogliati wrote (March 19, 2000):
[37] Just heard a HIP BWV 106 on the radio. Got absolutely lost in that exquisite viol sound - warm yet dark, and beautifully mellow and sweet. I was after some opinions as to the other pieces on this CD. There is so much great music available, but it's always a financial reason that stops me buying everything I like. Is the entire CD this enjoyable?

Matthew Westphal wrote (March 19, 2000):
[37] Oh God YES YES YES!!! The entire CD is a marvel! Buy it at once!

I just finished writing a review of it for Amazon.com; I also prepared a longer one I'll post here shortly.

Peter Bright wrote (March 21, 2000):
[37] I also have just picked it up - the performances really are very beautiful indeed.

Matthew Westphal wrote (March 19, 2000):
[37] Here are some more impressions. (This is the long version of what I whittled down to make a review for Amazon.com: Amazon.co.uk

The one-singer-per-part theory seems to have made the most headway in the early cantatas -- probably because the arguments over the interpretation of the Entwurff don't apply.

"Actus Tragicus" has always seemed a misnomer to me for BWV 106. Yes, it's a funeral piece -- but I think the word "tragic" in the context of classical music inevitably brings to mind a Tchaikovsky-"Pathetique"-like quality that just doesn't fit with this cantata. Bach's writing is too lively, too much in a major key, too lightly scored. Some conductors (even HIP ones like Gardiner [21]) seem to impose this "tragic" feeling on the music. Junghänel doesn't - this performance is much the most fleet and lively I've heard - and frankly, matches the Lutheran text (which doesn't view death with dread at all) quite well.

I haven't yet praised Wilfried Jochens' singing, at once vigorous and sensitive, or that of the ladies, who are outstanding. Soprano Johanna Koslowsky can float an ethereal chorale melody, toss off virtuoso runs and take your breath away with a descending figure trailing off into silence (the end of "Es ist der alte Bund" from the Actus Tragicus). All done with equal skill, and all in a tone so pure she could almost pass for a boy Soprano. Alto Elisabeth Popien is every bit as good.

With Herreweghe and Jacobs already on Harmonia Mundi's roster and with some expressed reluctance on Junghänel's part to bring the one-on-a-part approach to some of the larger Leipzig works), I don't know how many more cantata recordings we'll get from Cantus Cölln. But I hope they at least do some more early works like Aus der Tiefe and Gott ist mein König.

Harry Steinman wrote (March 20, 2000):
[37] Matthew and Frank F: Well, Matthew’s ecstatic rave of a previous email (his exact words, he may recall, were, "Oh God YES YES YES!!!") and review and Frank's comments pushed me over the edge: I just ordered the HM Actus Tragicus, and now I can't wa. Frank, hanks for a good tip, and Matthew, thanks for an excellent review (and for your unrestrained passion).

Frank Fogliati wrote (March 21, 2000):
[37] Harry, I listened to my radio recording of this on the way to work this morning.

The Soprano and viols sent shivers down my spine! I hope you love it as much as it I do. It's truly sublime (and probably dangerous to get 'lost in' when driving in slippery conditions as I was!) Enjoy.

Harry Steinman wrote (March 22, 2000):
[37] Hey, a quick note to Matthew and Frank and All. Thanks for the recommendation of the Cantus Cölln recording that included the Actus Tragicus (Harmonia Mundi 901694) as well as BWV 4, 12, and 196. This is WONDERFUL singing and instrumentation. Everything is so crisp and clean...the soprano is wonderful (as are the other singers). This ensemble has quite a distinctive and pleasing sound. I HIGHLY recommend this recording to any and everyone.

 

Continue on Part 2

Cantata BWV 106: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

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