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Philippe Herreweghe & Collegium Vocale Gent
Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works
General Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part1

Herreweghe on Arte Channel

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 30, 2000):
All the European members of Bach Recordings List and Bach Cantatas List, please take notice,

Arte Channel will broadcast this week 2 Bach programs with Herreweghe:

Today Monday, January 30, 2000 - 20:00 (Israeli time, about 45 minutes) - A live broadcast from Nant, including Cantata BWV 125, which was discussed in the Cantata list couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, February 2, 2000 22:50 (Israeli time, about 2 hours) - Also from Nant - B Minor Mass.

HRS wrote (January 30, 2000):
[To Aryeh Orob] Thank you for your hint! It was a wonderful performance! Today (30. = Sunday! Time: 19:00) BWV 125. The chorale was little bit too fast.... - But... Don't miss the h-moll mass at February 2nd, 22:50! Herreweghe is great! (Believe me: I have all sacred works with Rilling...)


Herreweghe performance

Greg D'Agostino wrote (August 19, 2000):
For any list members who live in the Northeast U.S., Philippe Herreweghe and the Collegium Vocale Ghent will be performing at the Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood on August 22:

Cantata BWV 105, Herr, gehe Nicht ins Gericht
Cantata BWV 11, Lobet Gott in seinem Reichen
BWV 243, Magnificat in D


Philippe Herreweghe

Vesna wrote (April 8, 2001):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< Yes. There were some discussions about Philippe Herreweghe in the BCML and BRML Those discussions are compiled in the Bach Cantatas Website in the following page:
At the bottom of that page you can find links to other pages about Herreweghe and his recordings of Bach's vocal works. For example, a list of Herreweghe recordings of Bach's cantatas & other vocal works is located in the following page: >
Thank you for the links, Aryeh :) I will read it when I have a time for that.

< But there is no reason not to start a new discussion about your favourite performer (which will also be compiled in due time into that page!). If you want to start one, please put the name of the relevant performer in the subject (title) line of your message. Please do not hide it under irrelevant subject, like 'Introducing Myself'. And I also hope to see you contributing to the weekly cantata discussions. >
OK, OK, I will try, but the problem is that I'm very busy (I'm not professional musician and I doubt that I'll be one day) and it's hard for me to find a time to respond on your all mssgs. But, it's great pleasure to meet you all :)

Jane Newble wrote (April 9, 2001):
Vesna wrote:
< I just came here and dunno if it is heresy to say that Herreweghe IMO is one of the best alive conductor of Bach. Did you already have disscusion about him? >
It's not heresy in my opinion, because I totally agree! :o) I have not even seen him on TV! That must have been wonderful! We did have some discussion on the old list, but not much on here (yet!). I have nearly worn out his 'Wir danken dir, Gott' CD. And some of the others, too. And yes, given the choice between Gardiner and Herreweghe in England.... I'd be spending a lot of money on travelling!!!

A Herreweghe fan,


Philippe Herreweghe

Francis Browne wrote (March 17, 2002):
Virgin Classics CDs of six cantatas and the Lutheran masses have some excellent performances by Herreweghe but are not provided with any texts. Combined texts and translations of the cantatas (BWV 39, 73, 93, 105, 107, 131) are now available on the Bach Canttatas website:



Uri Golomb wrote (June 2, 2002):
Regarding the possibilty of Herrewghe completing his cycle: Herreweghe's own public answer is a definite "no". I have in front of me a fairly recent interview (Goldberg, Summer 2001) where he quite explicitly says that "I don't feel the necessity to commit myself to that kind of undertaking". Unfortunate, but there it is. Anyone who insists on a DIGITAL cycle -- and I agree that there are no good reasons such insistence -- would be stuck with Leusink, at least until Suzuki and Koopman complete theirs (assuming Koopman indeed finds a company for his). I personally quite like some of the cantatas in Leusink's cycle, though by no means all (and I do not have the complete set in any case). Of course, there is the possibility that the Monteverdi Society will find a publisher for Gardiner's Cantata Pilgrimage (which has been recorded in its entirety, though only few of the recordings were released). I know they'd like to release the whole thing. But I have no idea whether, and when, this might happen.

For Sunday-by-Sunday listening, you could also take note of the Karl Richter cycle on Archiv. It is not digital, of course, and it is not complete either -- in fact, it contains less than 100 cantatas -- but it does claim to feature at least one cantata for each Sunday...


Bach cantatas

Chad Romney wrote (September 13, 2002):
What can anyone tell me of this recording?? I cannot find any reviews of it, and while it seems to be a good bargain, I am reluctant to buy it without any information. CDNow

Drew Pierce wrote (September 13, 2002):
[To Chad Romney] Excellent recordings, as Kirk has indicated several times. I actually bought the earlier "Les plus Belles Cantates" 5-CD set that came out as part of the 2000 Bach Edition, and listen to it regularly.

The (newer) set from cdnow, although with less music, has the CD ROM, an excellent bonus. Herreweghe is one of the leading interpreters of Bach's vocal music. Too bad he won't record ALL the cantatas.

Craig Schweickert wrote (September 13, 2002):
[To Chad Romney] I think there's an error in CDNOW's track listing, Chad: BWV 56 is listed twice.

Anyway, the set is a repackaging of three of Herreweghe's Harmonia Mundi recordings from the late 1980s and early 1990s:

- "Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis": BWV 21 & BWV 42, with Barbara Schlick, Gérard Lesne, Howard Crook, Peter Harvey, Peter Kooy (I suspect one of CDNOW's two BWV 56s must be the BWV 42)

- "Trauerode": BWV 78 & BWV 198, with Ingrid Schmithüsen, Charles Brett, Howard Crook, Peter Kooy

- "Cantates pour basse": BWV 56, BWV 82 and BWV 158, with Peter Kooy.

The fourth disk, which I've never seen/heard, is a CD-ROM about Bach and his time.

You'll probably find the recordings discussed under the various BWV numbers on the Bach cantatas website. And they've been acclaimed by several members of this group.

My own take is that they are never less than good and often more. All the hallmarks of Herreweghe's approach are there: refinement; musicality; scholarship; an excellent period orchestra; a fresh-voiced, well-drilled if not especially German-sounding chorus; always bouyant, often relaxed tempos; and a keen ear for orchestral and vocal textures. It's all very beautiful, maybe sometimes a bit too. Some of the soloists, especially the not-always-solidly-on-key Schmithüsen and hooty Brett, are outclassed by singers on other recordings; on the other hand, Kooy is close to ideal (among modern recordings, his version of BWV 82 is surpassed only by Mertens/Kuijken) and Lesne is profoundly moving in BWV 42. Anyway, while you may be able to find slightly better perof some of the works, you probably won't find so many fine performances of so many excellent cantatas bundled at so attractive a price.

And keep your eyes peeled for Herreweghe's most recent Bach cantata disks, where he gets everything right--"Mit Fried und Freud" (BWV 8, BWV 125 & BWV 138) and especially "Wir danken dir, Gott" (BWV 29, BWV 119 & BWV 120)--with Deborah York, Ingeborg Danz, Mark Padmore and the ubiquitous Mr. Kooy. Both have been reissued at mid-price (about C$18/US$12 in Montreal stores) in the last year or so.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (September 13, 2002):
[To Chad Romney] It, and the other box set by Herreweghe, are both among the best cantata recordings I have. I truly wish Herreweghe would do a complete set - I put his work up with Suzuki as probably the best overall cantata performances.


Herreweghe Cantatas

Marten Breuer wrote (September 29, 2002):
Some weeks ago, you discussed the excellent recordings of Bach cantatas by Philippe Herreweghe. I just wanted to inform you that currently, there is a very interesting offer by 2001 of the (otherwise no longer available) 4-CD-box containing the Ascension and Easter oratorios, Advent and Christmas cantatas to the amazing price of 12,99 Euros!!!


Another bargain Herreweghe cantata reissue

Craig Schweickert wrote (October 4, 2002):
Heads up, bargin hunters. This week's new releases rack at my neighbourhood diskmonger's contained a Virgin Veritas x2 twofer of Herreweghe's 1992 and 1993 recordings of six Bach cantatas:

BWV 39 "Brich dem Hungrignen dein Brot"
BWV 93 "Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten"
BWV 107 "Was willst du dich betrüben"
Agnès Mellon, sop
Charles Brett, alt
Howard Crook, ten
Peter Kooy, bass

BWV 131 "Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir"
BWV 73 "Herr, wie du willt so schicks mit mir"
BWV 105 "Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht"
Barbara Schlick, sop
Gérard Lesne, alt
Howard Crook, ten
Peter Kooy, bass

Chorus and Orchestra of the Collegium Vocale

All six recieve solid performances, although I prefer the second disk with Schlick and Lesne and a beautiful, if cool, reading of the sublime 105 (whose solo numbers, especially the soprano aria with obligato oboe, here exquisitely performed by Schlick and Ponseele, would not be out of place in the St. Matthew Passion). The price can't be beat: the set lists for C$13.99/US$9.25 at and my neighbourhood store has it at C$12.99/US$8.60 (I paid C$22 a disk a few years ago). Didn't notice
whether the texts are included; if not, they can be got off the Web. Here's hoping that Herreweghe's excellent two-disk set of the Lutheran Masses follows.

Marten Breuer wrote (October 4, 2002):
[To Craig Schweickert] There is an even better bargain box of 4 CDs that contains not only the six cantatas mentioned by Craig but also the "little" masses BWV 233-236! In Germany, it costs 14,99 Euros compared to 9,99 Euros for the cantatas only, see:

Craig Schweickert wrote (October 4, 2002):
[To Marten Breuer] True enough, Martin, although as far as I know that particular box was never released in North America.


Libretto / Herreweghe

Barry Murray wrote (January 6, 2003):
[To Francine Renee Hall] I am knew to the cantatas.

I have two sets by Herreweghe. One is a 5 CD box on Harmonia Mundi, with the title "The Most Beautiful Cantatas", the other is a 4 CD box on Virgin. This one has two discs of cantatas and two of the masses BWV 233-236. I don't have a comparison, but I am very fond of Herreweghe's interpretations. This might be a way of getting some good performances at good prices.

Francine Renee Hall wrote (January 6, 2003):
[To Barry Murray] Thanks for the Herreweghe suggestion. That reminds me: I have a 5-CD Leipzig Classic cantata set with the SMP conducted by Mauersberger, thanks to Aryeh, who directed me to a recording I couldn't put my finger on a long time ago! The Mauersberger was remastered using 24-bit remastering, so it's quite a gem!

Jane Newble wrote (January 6, 2003):
Barry Murray wrote:
< I don't have a comparison, but I am very fond of Herreweghe's interpretations. This might be a way of getting some good performances at good prices. >
I second that, as I am a Herreweghe fan, anyway. However, if you want some other beautiful and/or interesting interpretations, there is Suzuki, and Koopman, and of course Richter, who was himself a Lutheran and has some very moving recordings. Then there are all the others.... I am always amazed at how different recordings bring out different aspects of Bach's music and I often wonder how it would have sounded in reality 300 years ago!

Andrew White wrote (January 6, 2003):
[To Francine Renee Hall] I wholeheartedly second Barry's recommendation of Herreweghe's recordings of Bach's cantatas.

The five-disc set he referred to -- "Les plus belles Cantates (The most beautiful cantatas)" -- was one of my first cantata purchases. It is wonderfully sublime -- I cannot recommend it highly enough. I have a lot of cantata recordings, but this is the set I turn to most.

Unfortunately, the set is out of print and therefore difficult to find. But, pretty much all the recordings found in the set are available at at budget price. The (out of print) five-disc set consists of the following recordings:

- Alto Cantatas (BWV 170, BWV 54, BWV 35)
- Bass Cantatas (BWV 82, BWV 56, BWV 158)
- Trauerode (BWV 198) + BWV 78
- Mit Fried und Freud (BWV 8)+ BWV 125 and BWV 138
- Ich Habe Viel Bekümmernis (BWV 21) + BWV 42

Three of these recordings (Ich habe..., Bass Cantatas, and Trauerode) are available in a three-disc set (also, confusingly, entitled "Les plus belles cantates") for the ridiculously low price of $8.98. The set also includes a CD-ROM.

Three of the recordings are also available individually (Bass Cantatas, Trauerode, and Mit Fried) for $3.98. So the only recording from the five-disc set that is not available is the one of Alto Cantatas (Scholl).

Berkshire also has other Herreweghe cantata recordings, including those for holidays: Christmas, Easter Oratorio, and Ascension Oratorio.

Hope this helps,

Barry Murray wrote (January 6, 2003):
[To Andrew White] I bought the 5 CD set from MDT:
I don't think it was bargain price, but well worth the cost.

Francine Renee Hall wrote (January 7, 2003):
[To Andrew White] Thank you so much for the info. I've saved it so I can print it out and use it next time I hit Tower!

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 7, 2003):
The information about all Herreweghe's recordings of Bach Cantatas & Bach's Other Vocal Works can be seen at the following pages of the Bach Cantatas Website:
Other Vocal Works:
w/ Leonhardt:

Although Herreweghe once declared that he has no intention of entering into a project of recording the complete Bach Cantatas, it does not mean that we do not desreve more recordings of Cantatas from him. Some of his renditions are among my favourites. His intimate and delicate approach manages to bring the drama from within. In some cases, as in the opening chorus of BWV 107, this approach makes wonders; others not so. He usually use first rate soloists; he knows the secret of emphatic accompaniment; he knows how to direct both choir and orchestra; his renditions of the choral movemvents are so transparant, that it is easy to follow the different lines. So far he has not done a recording of Bach Cantatas which is less than good. I would like to see Harmonia Mundi putting more effort in encouraging him to record more of our favourite musical food, instead of reissuing the same recordings over and over and over again...

Francine Renee Hall wrote (January 7, 2003):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks Aryeh!

Well, January being the month after all the holiday shopping, and as this is the month when I finally get an eye exam and new glasses (after decades of neglect), I'm kind of poor right now. However, I take your comments with great respect, and in February you can rest assured that I will definitely seek out Herreweghe! Your great description (plus other kind reinforcements from the Cantata group) has alerted me and is now top priority!

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (January 9, 2003):
[To Francine Renee Hall] I don't think you need to worry too much about money: my first Herreweghe disc is of BWV 21 and BWV 42, and I'm not sure, but I think the performance itself has helped make BWV 21 my favourite cantata, perhaps even work by Bach that there is. (Of course, the scoring helps too, yes the drama is the biggest factor.) The good news is that this disc is part of HM's budget Musique D'Abord series!

Francine Renee Hall wrote (January 7, 2003):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] deja vu! Anyway, I want to thank you for your persuasive argument to get the Herreweghe you suggested because it is less than $7.00 ! I'll be heading to Tower to check H out and purchase one or two. But, sigh, I won't be able to make a big Herreweghe splurge until February (and I am not a very patient person either)!!

Thanks again and warmest wishes,

Francine Renee Hall wrote (January 10, 2003):
[To Aryeh Oron] Just a quickie note that I dutifully bought Herreweghe, in fact, the only one Tower had in stock, the BWV 21 and 42 (but it was only $7.99). Is 21 and 42 Herreweghe's 'favorites' from his now out of print boxed set? I'm looking forward to giving these a good listen.

Thank you Bach Cantata lovers for telling me about this,

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 10, 2003):
[To Francine Renee Hall] Why won't you try to order the Herreweghe's Bach Cantatas from Berkshire:

They have most of them in ridiculous prices, including some of the OUP sets, and their service is excellent.

Press the link 'Search'
Then the link 'Advanced Search'
Then enter 'Herreweghe Bach' into the search box and choose the option of 'All the words',
Press 'Get It' and you will get them all!

Good luck and enjoy,


New cantatas recording from Herreweghe

Piotr Jaworski wrote (February 12, 2003):
Without entering to our own "Bach Recordings Almost Self-propelled Parnassus" which seems to be extensively occupied these days ;-) I'd like to inform the silent readers mainly about the forthcoming recording from Harmonia Mundi:
Philippe Herreweghe conducts another set of cantatas - BWV 2, BWV 20 and BWV 176; with Johanette Zomer, Ingeborg Danz, Jan Kobow and Peter Kooy (HMC 901791).

Already issued or to be issued soon. I especially look forward to Kobow performance - I still have in memory his terrific role in SMP (BWV 244) as presented live in Warsaw some time ago (also under PhH).

I'm going to pick up from the store Hantai's first part of WTK (altogether with new Scarlatti) on Thursday or Friday - I wonder if anyone can share his/her comments on that recording (?) I must say that after listening this night (1 am!!!) to Angela Hewitt's brilliant interpretation of JSB two piano concertos (broadcasted by BBC3) I feel a good appetite for Bach again .....


Thank you!

Francine Renee Hall wrote (March 17, 2003):
Dear Aryeh, Hugo and Bach lovers,

Well, I received a stack of nine Herreweghe cantatas in the mail today, including a boxed set of three called 'Famous Cantatas'. Berkshire is incredible! All for $32.91 !!! They're wrapped and new. Incredible! As I write this I'm playing Cantata 21. I notice Bach's love of the oboe. The duets are heavenly. The chorus gives a gentle and royal punch where needed, and the arias are warm and thoughtful to the text. I was curious, though, if Herreweghe's cantatas have been reviewed thoroughly by members of the Bach Cantata group.

My heart pounding with excitement,
thank you!
(and armed with the helpful Oxford Composer Companion for cantata reference)

Aryeh Oron wrote (March 18, 2003):
[To Francine Renee Hall] I am sending this message to the BCML because you have intended to send your original message to this list.

Enjoy your new Herreweghe CD's.
Most, if not all, the cantatas recorded by Herreweghe have already been discussed in the BCML. If you want to read a review about a certain cantata go to the page of Index to Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: and press the link of the relevant cantata.


Reissues & Upcoming Releases

Peter Bright wrote (March 18, 2003):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks Aryeh. The new Herreweghe CD (cantatas 2, 20 and 176) has received some great reviews in the British Press - it seems that this will be another
excellent addition to his selective survey. [snip]


Herreweghe (and other live Bach perfs this past week)

Matthew Westphal wrote (April 21, 2003):
Jim says:
>>> (I've been listening to Herreweghe's Easter Oratorio (BWV 249) and Cantata BWV 66 this weekend. Wow, that a good recording. Herreweghe is my cantata main-man.) <<<
Bernard says:
>>> > Last Thursday, 17/4/2003, I saw the SJP (BWV 245) "live" by Philippe Herreweghe in Antwerp, with Sybilla Rubens, Ingeborg Danz, Jan Kobow, Christoph Prégardien, Sebastian Noack, Thomas Brauer, a 100% German cast. I don't want to be patriotic, but I really think he's the very best. Best choir, best orchestra (with Marcel Ponseele, oboe), best soloists. Stunning live performance, as perfect as his CD recording. <<<
I can't disagree - from what I've heard of his work, Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale are the best Bach performers of their kind out there. I never cease to be amazed by the warmth and clarity that choir produces. (Same for the extraordinary Ponseele.)

McCreesh and co. were in NYC Friday night for the St. John Passion. I found it rather disappointing. Alice Tully Hall may not have been the best venue for it (though other Baroque orchestras, like Savall's Concert des Nations and McGegan's Philharmonia Baroque, have sounded terrific there). But people seemed a bit tired and out of sorts -- maybe not surprising, as theitour schedule last week was pretty insane: Monday in Cuenca (doing the Victoria Requiem -- and several dates in Spain in the days before that), Tuesday in Cherbourg, Wednesday in London, Thursday flying across the Atlantic, Friday in NYC, Saturday in Ann Arbor, Sunday in NYC. And I thought James Gilchrist, gorgeous sweet voice though he has, wasn't the best Evangelist. The storytelling wasn't very involving, and I could really tell that German was a foreign language to him. It wasn't bad as such, but it wasn't very moving -- not nearly as good as the St. Matthew recording or as the St. John I heard McCreesh and co. do three years ago at a festival in France. Perhaps surprisingly (considering their schedule), they were much better on Sunday in the Magnificat and Easter Oratorio -- and the acoustics in St. Ignatius Loyola (all that marble!) made the violins in particular sound beautiful.

What other Bach performances have List members heard/ar they hearing over Holy Week and Easter week?

Pete Blue Wrote (April 22, 2003):
Matthew Westphal wrote:
< McCreesh and co. were much better on Sunday in the Magnificat and Easter Oratorio -- and the acoustics in St. Ignatius Loyola (all that marble!) made the violins in particular sound beautiful. What other Bach performances have List members heard/ar they hearing over Holy Week and Easter week? >
I missed McCreesh's SJP but I was at the Sunday NYC concert. I think a big Catholic domed church like St. Ignatius Loyola is fine for a capella homogeneous groups like the Hilliard, but was a poor venue for Bach's quick-moving, multi-timbred polyphony (the chorus was 2VPP or more, I believe; there were 10 vocalists and about 20 instrumentalists). The ensemble was a muddle, the soloists often inaudible (unless maybe from the choir loft), especially at McCreesh's breakneck tempos in the Magnificat (they were better, in fact near perfect, in the Easter Oratorio), and any clarity was vitiated by the church's ten-story dome and five-second echo, even with a full house. The biggest applause deservedly went to flutist Katy Bircher and especially reknowned oboist Katharina Spreckelsen. The countertenor Robin Tyson was terrific in "Saget saget mir geschwinde" although his low notes were sometimes lost in the mud.

A much more satisfying concert IMO (and at one-third the ticket price) was Bradley Brookshire's well-attended Bach harpsichord recital at acoustically live Merkin Concert Hall three weeks earlier. It consisted mostly of the English Suites 1, 2 and 3. Every note was clear and attractive, a tribute to the appropriate venue and Brookshire's rich-sounding single-manual (with a couple of stops for variety, well used) instrument. Brookshire played the midtempo and slowtempo movements much more freely than I am accustomed to or usually like, but I thought he made them coherent and convincing by the way he (as jazz players say) "leaned into the changes". He pointed the listener toward the underlying harmony, even with his body language, so there was nothing arbitrary-sounding about his phrasing. The fast movements were appropriately virtuosic. Altogether a very enjoyable afternoon, and the audience agreed.

The only quibble I have is, not that Brookshire played with the music in front of him, but that he turned pages while playing, which I found distracting. Why couldn't he have xeroxed the pages of each movement and then taped them together accordion-style so he wouldn't have to turn a page (at least once even turn back to a previous page) in the middle?

Nick Ford wrote (April 22, 2003):
Matthew Westphal asks.....
< What other Bach performances have List members heard/ar they hearing over Holy Week and Easter week? >
I thought long about whether I should contribute again to this group, fearing I had nothing relevant or of interest to say, knowing that I haven't heard most of the of the recordings being discussed (I must listen to Herreweghe !) - perhaps this will be my last.

The music of Bach surrounded me from my earliest years, my mother

< Why is it that it is principally men - American men - who are so anti when it comes to HIP, countertenors and period instruments?) >
Being the staunchest advocate in the family. My first really meaningful experience of Bach was from the Jacques 1946 recording of Mattheus Passion with Kathleen Ferrier. At that time the purist/authenticist movement was gaining sway. It was undoubtedly exciting with new (old) ways of performing with rediscovered instruments. I began to have doubts when being taught by a then eminent keyboard player to phrase baroque keyboard phrases as a string player would bow them. This trick having been mastered I was told immediately to forget it ???

Over the next decades the grip got firmer. My latest SMP is the Gardiner version, parts of which I find electric, technically brilliant, and even moving. His control over his vocal resources I find superb.

However, the climactic moment for me of the old, undoubtedly "hammy" Jacques recording is the "Warlich" after the renting of the veil. This moment shines for me like a beacon of affirmation of Bach's faith. In the Gardiner version, this is simply thrown away. Perhaps just a different emphasis from a different age ?

As for the original question, and the reason for my posting, I watched a performance of the SJP last night on TV. A "staged" performance by the English National Opera, accompanied by the ENO et al. (I can hear the outraged cries already !!) It was a wonderfully emotional performance full of the real "passion" that we are told we cannot doubt was felt by the composer about the subject. It reminded me of a similar performance on German TV on the eve of JSB's 250th when I was lucky enough to celebrate that event in Leipzig, and it moved me much more than all performances I have taken part in.

Why should his sublime music be shackled by the limitations of his age and his contemporaries. After all we know that Leonardo's flying machines actually work !

A quote this week from a friend living in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England,
"Went to Hans Peter Blockwitz's Master classes on Bach arias this week – joyful (he took one singer through 'Ich Habe Genug' (BWV 82) ) He said 'Don't mistake this Baroque stuff for dry academic material – I see this as very >emotional music. Those damn scratchy early string players have a lot to answer for.'"

I wouldn't put it quite like that, I think I am very lucky to have the choice of listening to Bach in such a variety of ways, all valid from their own perspective. It proves (if that were needed) the eternal genius of his music. But I am glad that the stranglehold of the purists is breaking – as even Raymond Leppard (who after all was a founder member in the UK) put it:-

"The rewards of performance are to be found in constant revision and reinterpretation to keep pace with the present as much as to keep faith with the past. The rewards of the listener are in the new aspects of the music's vitality that these changes continually reveal."

I will keep on listening and loving......

Francine Renee Hall wrote (April 22, 2003):
I listened in. Does that count? I received a gift of two CDs: 1) Von Otter and MAK, Archiv, "Lamenti" and 2) Kathleen Battle and Wynston Marsalis, Sony, "Baroque Duets". Both were wonderful and both defy or should defy HIP and non-HIP shoe-boxing (!) The Otter work gave me unbearable longing, which music like Monteverdi does. And the Battle / Marsalis CD gave me heavenly joy, as Bach and Händel will do.

Gene Hanson wrote (April 22, 2003):
Matthew Westphal wrote:
< Alice Tully Hall may not have been the best venue for it (though other Baroque orchestras, like Savall's Concert des Nations and McGegan's Philharmonia Baroque, have sounded terrific there). >
At least the accoustics are better than St. Patricks's Cathedral, where everything gets reverberated to death.

Johan van Veen wrote (April 22, 2003):
Matthew Westphal wrote:
< I can't disagree - from what I've heard of his work, Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale are the best Bach performers of their kind out . I never cease to be amazed by the warmth and clarity that choir produces. (Same for the extraordinary Ponseele.) >

I basically agree as far as the quality of the choir is concerned. But since some time I'm not so positive about Herreweghe's interpretation and his choice of soloists.

Maybe it is his extensive preoccupation with 19th century music these days but his performances lack the sharp edges which were characteristic for his earlier recordings. His interpretations are a little too smooth in my view - the same problem I have with the Bach Collegium Japan. Herreweghe uses too much legato lately. I can't always agree with his choice of soloists either. I can't understand how he could choose someone like Ian Bostridge for Bach - he should stay away from baroque music altogether. I believe Herreweghe's first recordings of the SMP (BWV 244) and B-minor Mass (BWV 232) are far better than the second one's.

< What other Bach performances have List members heard/ar they hearing over
Holy Week and Easter week? >
Well, not the week, but about ten days before Easter I went to the traditional SMP (BWV 244) performance by the Netherlands Bach Society, directed this time by Marcus Creed. It was pretty close to a disaster: synchronisation and intonation problems in the orchestra, soloists of whom nobody was better than average and some below average, boring chorale singing etc. Even if I don't like a performance as a whole mostly there is at least something I like. This time there was nothing I really enjoyed. I was just glad when it was over.



Dick Wursten wrote (June 26, 2003):
I read an interview with Ph. Herreweghe in 'Muziek & Woord' (Flemish Magazine) in which some remarkable lines about Bach and about the time in which he started with the Collegium Vocale (in Gent, later on he became famous in Paris). I thought it might interest you. One quote is about Bach and the other over the early days of HIP and the 'new generation' .

"I am occupying myself with Bach for more than 30 years now, but how the Hohe Messe (BWV 232) really should sound, I absolutely don't know. Even after 200 performances. It stays a puzzle and it still is a matter of searching and trying and sometimes that is a little discouraging: The more you played this music, the better you become aware that it is 'ongrijpbaar'." (you can get it, lay your hands on it ?? don't know a correct translation).

A new generation of performers ??
"There are very good instrumentalists. But ensembles which are really new and convincing, I haven't heard yet. Sometimes I read interesting comments in d-booklets, f.i. about OVPP, but when I hear the result, i am not convinced. But alright: Now I hear myself saying this, I realize I sound exactly as the established tradition spoke about us 30 years ago. Economically (Commercially) it has become a lot more difficult to found a new ensemble like the Collegium Vocale nowadays. When we started way back, we payed ourselves to perfrom a SMP and we rehearsed for one whole year and Ton Koopman 12 times came from Holland to Gent to show us the way in matters of intonation. The cost: 30.000 BEFrs (= 750 EURO) and we played for an audience of people mostly aged somewhere in their 20-ies. In the pause we protested against the Vietnam-war. Nowadays this is not possible anymore and - strange - the average age of the audience is at least 50 years."

PERSONAL REMARK: I think in this last perspective he is little bit blinded, because as a celebrated director he has lost contact with the non-commercial circuit, in which AFAIK - indeed - young musicians make music together - indeed as in his old days - for little money, just for fun and arranging their own concerts with their own audiences...

Johan van Veen wrote (June 26, 2003):
Dick Wusten wrote:
"I am occupying myself with Bach for more than 30 years now, but how the Hohe Messe really should sound, I absolutely don't know. Even after 200 performances. It stays a puzzle and it still is a matter of searching and trying and sometimes that is a little discouraging: The more you played this music, the better you become aware that it is 'ongrijpbaar'." (you can get it, lay your hands on it ?? don't know a correct translation).<<
ongrijpbaar = intangible

Tom Brannigan wrote (June 26, 2003):
For some reason my AOL mail box wouldn't allow me to read the original post on Herreweghe & his Mass recording. That's a first for me. Anybody have a clue as to why?

Jane Newble wrote (June 26, 2003):
Dick Wursten wrote:
< trying and sometimes that is a little discouraging: The more you played this music, the better you become aware that it is 'ongrijpbaar'." (you can get it, lay your hands on it ?? don't know a correct translation). >
Another word is 'elusive.'



Neil Halliday wrote (July 7, 2003):
Since I criticized him earlier today, (opening chorus, BWV 93), I will praise him now (opening chorus, BWV 39: "Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot").

While listening to this music, I picture Herreweghe, calmly and studiously conducting the orchestra, thereby effortlessly setting the planets in motion, in their orbits around the sun.

It's quite an achievement, considering the chamber sized forces under his command.

"To God alone the glory", indeed.


Continue to Part 3

Philippe Herreweghe: Short Biography | La Chapelle Royale | Collegium Vocale Gent
Recordings of Vocal Works:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Individual Recordings:
Cantatas BWV 29, 119 & 120 - P. Herreweghe | Christmas Cantatas from Leipzig - P. Herreweghe | Weinen Klagen.. Cantata BWV 12, 38 & 75 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 232 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 244 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 245 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 248 - P. Herreweghe
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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