Bach’s Other Vocal Works
Glorious Proprius - Ericson's "Grand Slam"Ehud Shiloni wrote (July 2, 2002):
I want to share with you some great news and give you my initial "report" on some remarkable CD's:
Eric Ericson, the Swedish grand-master of choir conducting, have recorded the four large-scale sacred choral works by JSB in the early 1990's. All were recorded in live concerts, performed at the Berwald Hall in Stockholm, one of those halls with a reputation for "perfect accoustics". The recordings were originally issued by the now defunct Vanguard Classics label, and soon went out-of-print in a bad way: I personally made many futile efforts to get my hands on any of those with no success. Recently I got exciting news, through members of our BRML, that the works were re-issued by the Swedish label Proprius, and having bought them all I can now report my initial impressions.
In short: GO FOR IT! - these are wonderful recordings, a true "Grand Slam".
For those unfamiliar with Ericson's "sound", I would say that you should think of Herreweghe plus one dose of extra panache. [BTW, a stunning CD of the Bach motets is readily available on EMI].
The Eric Ericson Choir is larger than the "typical" HIP forces, and runs 10/8/8/8 for SJP, 11/9/9/9/ for SMP.
The Drottningholm Ensemble ["original instruments"] runs from 25 players for SJP to 34 for the SMP.
The sound is marvelous - the natural great accoustics of the Berwald Hall plus an effective work by the Vanguard technicians, with just a bit of echo which magnifies the "live" experience.
The soloists are generally all good, if not necessarily the very brightest stars of the field [Howard Crook is the Evangelist on SJP, Joseph Cornwell on the SMP, and Monika Groop - not a particular favorite on mine – sings Alto in all four works. Christina Hogman - a Swedish soprano - is a refreshing personal discovery].
The performances are breathtaking. I have to do some more listening , of course, but I can state that they definitely qualify for the "premier league" of the field.
I heard somewhere that coir singing in Sweden is a national past-time, with more people singing in choirs than participating in any kind of sport. Listening to the amazing sound produced by the Ericsons, it is easy to believe that this story is indeed accurate.
One last word about Proprius: I am very thankful for their existence.
I cannot help but compare the positive actions of Proprius to the despicable behaviour of Warner Classics in discontinuing the Koopman Cantatas series. Apparently the brass at Warner do not assign a high value to keeping promises made to others [obviously these people would not be fit to run an insurance company, for instance]. Just to give you a perspective, in their reaction to our petition they claimed to have made the decision "on sound commercial reasons" - while on the very same week Warner wrote-off the small sum of $54 Billion[!!] related to their AOL merger . Some qualification for making "sound commercial decisions". A shame and a disgrace!
Enjoy the Ericsons
Jane Newble wrote (July 2, 2002):
< Ehud Shiloni wrote: For those unfamiliar with Ericson's "sound", I would say that you should think of Herreweghe plus one dose of extra panache. >
That sounds completely irresistible....:o)
Thank you for letting us know - I now know what to use my birthday-money for that I have had sitting here for several months!!
Ehud Shiloni wrote (July 2, 2002):
[To Jane Newble] Warning: These CD's are all pretty much full prices! Perhaps the cautious thing to do is start with just one of the works and see if you like it before you lay out all that money. After all, my taste in music may not be the same as yours......;-)
P.S. I see that these CD's are starting to show up on Amazon etc.
Eric Ericson: Short Biography | Eric Ericson Chamber Choir | Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble | Recordings | General Discussions | Motets – Ericson | BWV 232- Ericson