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John Eliot Gardiner & Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists
Easter Cantatas
Cantatas BWV 6 & 66


J.S. Bach: Easter Cantatas


Cantatas BWV 6 [18:48], BWV 66 [29:19]

John Eliot Gardiner

Monteverdi Choir / English Baroque Soloists

Contralto: Bernarda Fink; Counter-tenor: Michael Chance; Tenors: Steve Davisilim, Mark Padmore; Basses: Julian Clarkson, Dietrich Henschel

Archiv Produktion 463580

Apr 1999

CD / TT: 48:16

Recorded at St. John's, London, England.
See: Cantatas BWV 6, 66 - conducted by John Eliot Gardiner
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The Bach Cantata Pilgrimage Begins

Donald Satz
wrote (March 17, 2000):
It was announced some time ago that John Eliot Gardiner and his Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists would be performing all of Bach's surviving church cantatas during the year 2000. DG's initial plans were to record every one of them, but what good are plans if you don't change them. And they did quickly change to recording just 12 CDís. The first disc, Easter Cantatas, is the one under consideration here. But already, the second disc, Funeral Cantatas, is scheduled for U.S. release on April 11. At any rate, 12 is much better than none.

Any Bach recording by Gardiner is pretty much self-recommending; don't you agree? He's been performing Bach for many years, uses a fine chorus and orchestra, and generally selects very good vocal soloists. Also, I usually find Gardiner has his pulse on the rhythm and swagger I most prefer for Bach.

I probably would have located one or two other versions I have for comparison purposes, but a pulled muscle in my chest (recovering nicely with mind-altering pain medication) rules that out. So, I just decided to listen to the music as if it was the only music on Earth. And it's really good. These two cantatas, BWV 6 & BWV 66, are beautiful works not often recorded. Both were written for the 2nd day of Easter, so I figured it must be okay to listen to them consecutively.

BWV 6 is not a "barnstormer" cantata. It's a peaceful and reflective work which fits my current mood perfectly. Gardiner directs it appropriately, eliciting stunning results from the choir and orchestra. Vocal soloists from high to low are Bernarda Fink, Steve Davislim, and Julian Clarkson; all do well. Special mention to David Watkin who provides an incisive cello to the chorale for sopranos.

BWV 66 is more exuberant and a little more immediately accesible. Gardiner does a great job with this cantata also. My only regret is that a particular member of the choir didn't sound up to the challenge in the opening chorus. The vocal soloists here are Michael Chance, Mark Padmore, and Dietrich Henschel.

You might be thinking that two cantatas aren't likely to fill up a disc, and you would be correct. The music clocks in at a little under 50 minutes, but the logistics and the nature of the occasion are mitigating factors.

Adding it all up, these are fine performances of highly worthy Bach compositions. Gardiner is at his best, and that's easily good enough for this listener. The vocal soloists are good but not superlative. Bernarda Fink has a tone I find similar to Barbara Schlick with one major difference - Ms. Fink has a very strong voice in comparison to Ms. Schlick's fragile voice.

I suppose this isn't a general must-buy recording when considering the vocalists and unused disc space. However, it's part of the Bach Cantata Pilgimage, and I'm sure many Bach lovers will place some priority on this series of events. As for me, I'm going to acquire every disc in the series and hope they come out in quick succession. This first recording is most rewarding for its outstanding direction and orchestra. The sound is fine but rather low in decibels; just turn up the volume. The catalog number is 463580-2. The cover art doesn't have much to offer: a black/white photograph of a card rack with a blurry person walking in the background, and it's all framed in white with a little purple. I would have preferred a photograph of Madonna holding the CD in front of Bach's home. You might not be aware of this, but she has become a highly principled person of late with a well-grounded sense of herself. But I don't know what she thinks of Bach. She'd make an interesting list member.

John Eliot Gardiner: Short Biography | Monteverdi Choir | English Baroque Soloists
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Newsletters
Cantatas BWV 106, 118b, 198 | Cantatas BWV 140, 147 | Cantatas BWV 11, 37, 43, 128 | Cantatas BWV 6, 66 | Cantatas BWV 72, 73, 111, 156 | Cantatas BWV 82, 83, 125, 200
Bach Cantata Pilgrimage:
BCP - Vols 1&8 | BCP - Vol. 14 | BCP - Vol. 15 | BCP - Vol. 21 | BCP - Vol. 22 | BCP - Vol. 23 | BCP - Vol. 24 | BCP - Vol. 26 | Bach Cantata Pilgrimage DVD | DVD John Eliot Gardiner in Rehearsal
Other Vocal Works:
BWV 232 - Gardiner | BWV 244 - Gardiner | BWV 245 - Gardiner | BWV 248 - Gardiner | BWV 1127 - Gardiner
Table of recordings by BWV Number

Conductors of Vocal Works: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Singers & Instrumentalists


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