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John Eliot Gardiner & Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists
Bach Cantata Piglrimage - Vols. 1&8


Bach Cantatas Vol. 1: City of London
For the Feast of St. John the Baptist
For the 1st Sunday after Trinity


CD-1: Cantatas BWV 167 [18:14], BWV 7 [22:26], BWV 30 [32:42]
CD-2: Cantatas BWV 75 [29:15], BWV 39 [21:00], BWV 20 [23:46]

John Eliot Gardiner

Monteverdi Choir / English Baroque Soloists

CD-1: Soprano: Joanne Lunn; Mezzo-soprano: Wilke te Brummelstroete; Tenor: Paul Agnew; Bass: Dietrich Henschel
CD-2: Soprano: Gillian Keith; Mezzo-soprano: Wilke te Brummelstroete; Tenor: Paul Agnew; Bass: Dietrich Henschel

Soli Deo Gloria 101

CD-1: Jun 24, 2000
CD-2: Jun 25, 2000

2-CD / TT: 148:26

Live recordings from the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage: at St. Giles Cripplegate, London, England.
See: John Eliot Gardiner - Bach Cantata Pigrimage - Vols. 1&8
Buy this album at:
2-CD: | |
Music Download: | | | ClassicsOnline


Bach Cantatas Vol. 8: Bremen / Santiago
For the 15th Sunday after Trinity
For the 16th Sunday after Trinity


CD-1: Cantatas BWV 138 [17:03], BWV 99 [16:43], BWV 51 [16:29], BWV 100 [21:02]
CD-2: Cantatas BWV 161 [21:28], BWV 27 [14:21], BWV 8 [18:38], BWV 95 [18:05]

John Eliot Gardiner

Monteverdi Choir / English Baroque Soloists

CD-1: Soprano: Malin Hartelius; Counter-tenor: William Towers; Tenor: James Gilchrist; Bass: Peter Harvey
CD-2: Soprano: Katharine Fuge; Counter-tenor: Robin Tyson; Tenor: Mark Padmore; Bass: Thomas Guthrie

Soli Deo Gloria 104

CD-1: Sep 28, 2000
CD-2: Oct 7, 2000

2-CD / TT: 145:04

Live recordings from the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage:
CD-1: Unser Lieben Frauen, Bremen, Germany.
CD-2: Santo Domingo de Bonaval, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
See: John Eliot Gardiner - Bach Cantata Pigrimage - Vols. 1&8
Buy this album at:
2-CD: | |
Music Download: | | | ClassicsOnline

JEG Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

Francis Browne wrote (December 14, 2004):
Among the January releases on the website are details of the first two volumes to be released of John Eliot Gardiner's Bach Cantata Pilgrimage of 2000. Each volume consists of 2 discs and costs £17. The cantatas are those for the feast of St John the Baptist, and the first, fifteenth and sixteenth Sundays after Trinity. More details available by following these links:

The Gardiner series is by no means just "reissues."

Teri Noel Towe wrote (January 2, 2005):
Eric Bergerud writes: < None of this will happen tomorrow if Gardiner's series really hits the shelves in its entirety. But these will be reissues. >
You are only partially correct when you write that the Gardiner series "will be reissues."

As you know, the entire series was to have appeared on DG Archiv, but the record company reneged on its agreement and terminated the series, in much the same way that Erato pulled out of the Koopman series. JEG and his wife Isabella de Sabata are now issuing the recordings on their own label, SDG. The first two volumes (Nos. 1 and 8) recently were released. Each volume contains 2 CDs, and the Cantatas are organized by Feast Day, and the recordings thus also are grouped by the locale in which they were recorded, during the yearlong Bach Cantata Pilgrimage.

Vol. 1 contains Cantatas for the Feast of St. John the Baptist (BWV 167, BWV 7, BWV 30) and the First Sunday after Trinity (BWV 75, BWV 39, BWV 20)

Vol. 8 contains Cantatas for 15th (BWV 138, BWV 99, BWV 51, BWV 100) and 16th (BWV 161, BWV 27, BWV 8, BWV 95) Sundays after Trinity.

The ensembles are "large." 6 Sopranos, and 4 each of the altos, tenors, and basses. 5 first violins, and 4 seconds, and so forth.

The packaging is a magnificently designed gatefold album. The notes are by JEG derived from the contemporaneous comments that he wrote down as the pilgrimage progressed.

You can find the complete details at the Soli Deo Gloria page at the website that the Gardiners have set up to promote their "in house" recording enterprise, Monteverdi Productions. Here is the URL:

I hope that you and the other subscribers to the List will forgive me, but I only am able to provide an incomplete report at the moment.

Because of a frenetic Yuletide season, I have only been able to listen to one CD, the one containing the Johannis Tag cantatas. (BWV 7 is a particular favorite of mine.) But, so far, I have listened to it three times.

While I disagree with some of the tempos JEG adopted in BWV 7, at no point does my disagreement come to close to reaching the level of disapproval. These warm, committed, and superbly played and sung performances are devoid of exaggeration, eccentricity, and excess. It is a pleasure to agree to disagree! I also find the performances of BWV 167 and BWV 30 totally engaging.

I am solidly in the Rifkin camp when it comes to the question of how many players and singers Bach employed for his performances on a week to week basis, and I have been fighting in the trenches for Joshua's cause for nearly 25 years ago. (The first time that the issue was discussed on radio was on one of my WBAI radio broadcasts.) I also have found Joshua's recordings of the Cantatas and of other Bach compositions exceptionally convincing and satisfying.

That reality does not stand in the way of my enjoying and recommending the JEG performances.

So long as the performances are inspiring, I do not give a hoot about the purported "authenticity." I fervently believe that any approach is "acceptable," if the performance is satisfying.

My favorite recording of Cantata BWV 50, for instance, is the very first one, recorded live at the Leeds Festival on October 4, 1928. An English text beginning "Now shall the grace," is used. There must be 300 voices in the Leeds Festival Choir, and the London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Sir Hugh Allen (with George Eskdale and Ernest Hall providing absolutely spine-tingling trumpet playing) is reinforced by a full English concert hall organ continuo realization, complete with 32' tone in the pedal. Such a performance is about as far from one of Bach's own as anyone can ever expect to get, but that 12" 78 RPM side gives goosebumps and quickens my pulse every time I hear it. It definitely is the performance that I would take to the clicheed desert island, if God forbid, I were to be exiled to one.

To me at least, stirring the emotions, setting the foot to tapping, and making the pulse quicken are what the performance of music is about.

If I learned anything from Don Pablo Casals (who befriended and mentored me in my late teens and early 20s, something for which I shall always be grateful), it is:

1. If it sounds bad, it is not good music.

2. If the performance is well played and inspires you, it is good music.

All other considerations, including those of purported "authenticity," are secondary, if they apply at all.

So far, like the Rifkin ones, the Gardiner recordings of the Cantatas definitely fall into category 2. Great music is beautifully played and sung, and the results are most satisfying. I am eagerly looking forward to the installments in the SDG series that will follow as the months go by.

A Happy, Healthy, and Placid 2005 to you, Eric, and to the rest of the subscribers to the List as well.

PS: I have no hesitation in feeling confident that the entire Gardiner series will be released in due course!

It also my understanding that effective international commercial distribution for the series has been found.

Short Review: First two albums from J.E. Gardiner's Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 3, 2005):
Last week I received the first two albums from John Eliot Gardiner's Bach Cantata Pilgrimage. The albums have returned over and over to my CD player since.
The contents of each album, as well as list of vocal soloists, can be found at the page:

The most immediate impression after several rounds of listening to the albums is that Gardiner has improved. In his early recordings of Bach Cantatas I observed some tendency to over-simplification. During the comparative listening I did for the weekly cantata reviews of the first cycle of cantata discussions, I have noticed that many times I missed in Gardiner's renditions details revealed in other performances, HIP and non-HIP alike. Sometimes he even sounded too rush and aggressive, as if the music was not so important to him. Now it seems that Gardiner has come to terms with Bach's music. He is closer to it and understands it better. He has discovered how rich these works are. How many possibilities they give to the interpreter. How many facets they have. How complicated and sophisticated the writing of Bach is. This sophistication, balanced with the right amount of humanity, are the essence of Bach's music and should be brought out to the listeners. Based on the new albums, Gardiner is very successful in achieving this mission.

The simplest factor for comparison is, of course, the tempo. If we take, for example, Cantata BWV 167 'Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe':
we shall notice that of 6 complete recordings Gardiner, together with Leusink, is the second slowest. That means that Gardiner chooses the tempo for each movement according to the mood and atmosphere he feels suit it best.

The choir and orchestra are polished as could be expected from Gardiner, but they are also so lively and enthusiastic. Each voice in the choir is distinct and the vocal and instrumental lines can be easily followed, even in complicated movements as the spectacular opening chorus of Cantata BWV 30 'Freue dich, erlöste Schar', with the three trumpets in unison and the winds and the strings doubling the voices, or the ecstatic fugal section of the chorus 'Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan' that opens the 2nd part of the early Leipzig Cantata BWV 75, or the famous opening chorus of Cantata BWV 39 'Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot', symbolizing either breaking of the bread or feeble footsteps of the hungry people. Gardiner is sensitive and caring in giving each of these so different choruses the right treatment.

One of the greatest assets of this series is the variety of soloists. Koopman, Leusink, even Suzuki use relatively a small roster of vocal soloists. In using such variety of soloists, Gardiner not only gave many of our generation fine soloists the opportunity to sing and record Bach, he was also able to choose the right soloists (according to his taste) for each part, as well as giving each singer the time to prepare his/her part. In that way he by-passed the main pitfall of a series, which was recorded in so condense schedule. On the other hand, most probably the choir and the orchestra have become more coherent and clear along the journey. For me it is such a joy hearing first rate soloists as the soprano Malin Hartelius singing Cantata BWV 51 so brilliantly (IMO, she brings more depth to this cantata than Emma Kirkby in Gardiner earlier recording from 1983), or the soprano Joanne Lunn singing with lot of emotion the chaming aria 'Eilt, ihr Stunden, kommt herbei' from Cantata BWV 30, or the bass Dietrich Henschel singing with outmost care for details the sprightly aria 'Gott ist gerecht in seinen Werken' from Cantata BWV 20, or the mezzo-soprano Wilke te Brummelstroete in heart-rending performance of the aria 'Menschen, glaubt doch dieser Gnade' from Cantata BWV 7.

I was amazed at the clarity of the sound and the good balance, knowing that the recordings where made in live concerts and not always optimistic conditions. Than I read in the liner notes (by Gardiner himself) that each of the recorded concerts was preceded by a 'take' of the final rehearsal in the empty church as a safety net against external disturbance during the performance, but the music on these recordings is very much live. Although he is, of course, not objective, I agree with him. As a listener, who was not there, the feeling of participating in an occasion is much considerable.

The packaging is also beautiful with original photos by Steve McCurry of characters from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Does it mean anything? Probably that Bach is a composer, whose music belongs to all nations. Secondly it is so refreshing after endless number of covers with photos of churches and pictures based on the Biblical stories. However, not everyone finds the printing of white letters on black background easy to read. But this is minor fault in otherwise exemplary production.

This is a short review. A more detailed review of the individual cantatas, as well as comparison with other recordings, will be sent to the BCML when the turn of these cantatas to be discussed in the BCML comes.

I hope that the following albums in this series will be as good as the first two. I might sound too enthusiastic, but IMO these albums should belong to every collection of Bach Cantatas.

You can listen to extracts from the albums in ram format (stream audio) at the page:

Peter Bright wrote (January 3, 2005):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks for your enthusiastic review of these discs, Aryeh! Now I am filled with deep anxiety... Can I afford to start off buying another complete cantata series? Absolutely not! Will I? Now that's a far more difficult question, but after your comments how can I resist?

Paul McCain wrote (January 3, 2005):
[To Aryeh Oron] Aryeh, thanks for your very interesting and helpful review.

What advice would you have for a person who does not now presently own a complete recording of the cantatas? I have purchased them in bits and pieces, and have a few of the Koopman collection and was intending to purchase all of Koopman.

I do like Gardiner's work on other Bach pieces and am therefore intrigued by his work.

Should I hold out for Gardiner?

I know ideI would buy both, but...if you had to make a choice, what would you advise?


Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (January 4, 2005):
[To Peter Bright] In my own collecting habits I have come to the conclusion that beyond the money, there is the reality of how much one can listen to and I don't mean a single time. I have endless CDs I have listened to once and some never. This is irrational and indecent. I need my time to listen to all the treasures I already have. Obviously one can buy every Bach recording ever put out and of course most of us have other interests as well. I listen to many types of opera and symphonies and chamber music, etc. I suspect that we all listen to more than Bach and how much can one listen?

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 4, 2005):
[To Paul McCain] I would not recommend to anybody following my footsteps, since I am trying to put my hands on every cantata recording which has ever been released.

However, based on my experience of listening to the immensely rich world of the cantatas for many years through many recordings (1999-2003, the years of the 1st round of cantata discussions, being the most intensive), I can tell that no single conductor can cover every aspect of the possibilities these works have to offer.
Partial list of cantata conductors: C. Coin, W. Ehmann, J.E. Gardiner, W. Gönnenwein, P. Herreweghe, T. Koopman, P.J. Leusink, F. Prohaska, K. Richter, H. Rilling, H. Scherchen, M. Suzuki, H. Thamm, J. Thomas/ABS, F. Werner, etc.
Each one of them has a personal view, each one of them has his moments of revelation, and each one of them can unfold details not revealed by others.

So, you have to develop your own taste, based on listening to bits and pieces from various recordings, reading the cantata discussions in the BCML and the BCW, etc. Go ahead! A fascinating journey is awaiting you.

J. E. Gardiner's Cantata Series (on Soli Deo Gloria)

Drew Point wrote (February 9, 2005):
After hearing the interesting interview with Gardiner on the BBC Radio Four:

-- I listened again to the full track sound samples at Monteverdi Productions website:

I have appreciated Gardiner's approach to Bach for many years -- my favorite music DVD is the concert from the 2000 Pilgrimage -- and I was very impressed with the quality of the samples. The aria (no. 5) from BWV 30 is simply stunning, as is the chorus (no. 1) from BWV 27.

It was also pleasing to learn that Volume 1 of this series is Gramophone's "Disc of the Month" for the March issue. For more info on Gardiner's series (with color photos and track details), see the following link:

Bachian cheer,

Olle Hedström wrote (February 9, 2005):
[To Drew Point] I just received the two first issues from Gardiner's new label SDG with cantatas from the Pilgrimage 2000.

There are 14 cantatas on 4 CDs included in two beautifully made covers I agree with you totally.

These are the best performances I have ever encoundered on disc so far regarding Bach Cantatas, and I possess a lot. B U Y T H E M !

I even find myself enjoying listening to the recitatives. Can you imagine ? I have some of Gardiner's earlier issues of cantatas, made before the pilgrimage, but this is something new. These recording are emotionally overwhelming, and with sonics I have never heard before.

Purchase them and judge for yourselves. I am convinced you won't be disappointed. See also Aryeh's review at the SDG/Montiverdi Productiuons website:

I look forward to your experiences regarding these CDs. I only hope that the rest of the upcoming releases will equal this high standard, but I see no reason why they shouldn't.


Martin Bendler wrote (February 9, 2005):
[To Olle Hedström] I can also agree with that! I have the recordings since December and since then I´m hearing them over and over again and it never becomes boringly. Any time I hear it I discover another great moment of the performance.

The soloists, the orchestra and the choir are so momentumful. I have many other recordings from Herreweghe, Koopman and Suzuki. But the new Gardiner-Recordings are the only one with this extrodinary atmosphere of Tension.

And I also agree that the recitatives are really enjoyable. I especially like the 6-stop Jennigs organ which they used for the basso continuo during the whole BCP-Project and since then in all concerts I attended (Beethovens Missa Solemnis, Bachs SJP and the B-Minor-Mass). It has a very interesting sound, much more than the organs used by the other performers.

Hopefully all the CDs will sell very well and all the recordings will be released.

I can´t wait for the next set and the performance of the St. Matthew Passion in spring!!

Gardiner's CD's

Bob Henderson wrote (March 9, 2005):
John Eliot Gardiner's four CD set came yesterday. (Six days from London, a record for a transatlantic order). The cost: about $23. per CD including postage. I believe these are not yet available in the US.

I collect Suzuki and I have a smattering of others. But make more space on the shelf and in the wallet. These represent Gardner at his best: lithe, supple, dramatic and highly musical. There is a certain freshness: the effect of live recording? No retakes it says in the booklet. I have not had time to listen extensively but Mark Padmore among the changing soloists appears to stand out. What a challenge for all: a different group each week. A different city and venue. Not the least for the sound engineers.

Could the group cohesion engendered on the project contribute to the integrity of the performance?. Sure sounds like it! I am now collecting two sets.

Jason Marmaras wrote (April 8, 2005):
[To Bob Henderson] I just picked up the 8th Volume of the Cantata pilgrimage (BWV 138, BWV 99, BWV 51, BWV 100; BWV 161, BWV 27, BWV 8, BWV 95). I was quite shocked by the first disc; I heard BWV 138 for the first time with utmost interest (if interest could ever be the word for it), and I found the tempos, articulation and sound of everyone extremely pleasing! it was EUR 25 for two CD's, and perhaps it's better than the 'many-take' recordings (EUR 21 per CD!), though I don't have one, and I badly wanted the one with BWV 140!...

One thing I didn't like was Gilchrist's singing of "Erschuettre dich" (tenor aria from BWV 99), which struck me as horrible in contrast to everything else he does on the first CD. I also -surprisingly- found Padmore's "Mein Verlangen ist den Heiland zu umfangen" quite strange and heavy compared to Paul Agnew (with Koopman) - although, come to think about it, he is rather closer to the Affekt being heavy, I guess. Perhaps I finally don't like Padmore's colour that much after all, who knows?

Nontheless, I highly recommend this pair, for the low price, the multitude of (8!) cantatas and, most of all, the expressive drive I feel SirJEG gives his excellent forces!!

Gardiner wins award for Bach Cantatas

Charles Francis wrote (September 30, 2005):
The winner of the 2005 Classic FM Gramophone Record of the Year has been named as the first set in Sir John Eliot Gardiner's cycle of Bach's Cantatas.

I was delighted to see Terry Waite looking so well !

Teri Noel Towe wrote (September 30, 2005):
Gardiner's Bach pilgrimage ends in Gramophone glory

With thanks to Michael F. R.:
Click here: Guardian Unlimited | Arts news | Gardiner's Bach pilgrimage ends in Gramophone glory

Eric Bergerud wrote (September 30, 2005):
[To Charles Francis] OK good news for Gardiner and cantatas. But M. Tilson Thomas as "artist of the year"???? It must have been a miserable year.

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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