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Philippe Herreweghe & Collegium Vocale Gent
Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works
General Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Herreweghe and the Banality of the Baroque

Pierce Drew wrote (May 15, 2004):
Johan van Veen wrote:
<< [Herreweghe interviewed] You can, of course, do Telemann, who is OK, but if a choice has to made between Brahms and Telemann my own is very clear. The problem is that I'm now conducting a lot of Beethoven, which may not be a very original idea, but the music is just so much better than Graupner. >>
< [Johan's response]:I find it rather odd to compare Telemann with Brahms or Graupner with Beethoven. That is also the problem with the appreciation of Passions from the 18th century: everything is compared with Bach's Passions, which is simply nonsense. >
I completely agree. Herreweghe's musical aesthetic is quite "old-school." This is the view that dictates classical music stations (at least in the US): judging by what dominates airplay, "early music" is Mozart and Beethoven. Occasionally, they go way back to the Brandenburgs.

It is odd that, having contributed to "filling in the gaps" of early music, Herreweghe subscribes to the view that the nineteenth century is the apotheosis of the Western art music tradition.

Indeed, he seems to praise Bach because he somehow "transcends" the [in his view] banality of baroque (another "old-school" perception: i.e., Bach is "best" because he transforms mediocrity into sublimity).

Johan wrote: < Like I said, everyone is entitled to his opinion. At the same time I think it is a shame when highly reputed musicians like Herreweghe don't want to explore lesser known repertoire. They could convince audiences that those compositions are well worth exploring, and they would probably bring the best out of them. >
Yes -- I highly respect his musicianship and agree that he has a right to his own opinion. But, as I said, I thought part of what motivated musicians like Herreweghe was new territory, the unexplored repertoire.

I guess the "real money" is in another recording of Beethoven's 9th or Brahms German Requiem. Strange, given Harmonia Mundi's focus on pre-Romantic composers. But Herreweghe does concede that he still listens to Renaissance music.

 

Herreweghe and Zelenka

Gabriel Jackson wrote (May 16, 2004):
Johan van Veen wrote:
< At the same time I think it is a shame when highly reputed musicians like Herreweghe don't want to explore lesser known repertoire. They could convince audiences that those compositions are well worth exploring, and they would probably bring the best out of them. >
I think it is odd that Herreweghe is so down on Zelenka. He's performed and recorded Schein who, while not uninteresting, can't really be thought superior to Zelenka can he?

 

Herreweghe losing the wonder

Matthew Neugebauer wrote:
ala Herreweghe-I'm guessing his Bach payed him well, so he shows that money isn't a reason for staying in it, but boredom seems to be.

Johan van Veen wrote:
Not knowing the context of Herreweghe's remarks I would like to say that it is understandable that someone who performs Bach's music frequently doesn't listen to his music in his spare time. It can be a good thing to listen to music you would never perform yourself, just to take distance. It can also be a good thing for a conductor not to do Bach's St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) a couple of years, and take a little distance from it. After that time one can look at it with freshness. A time-out - even from good things - can have a positive effect.

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (May 18, 2004):
< Not knowing the context of Herreweghe's remarks >
Thank you Johan for your honesty here-these are his remarks from his interview in Goldberg (Summer, 2001-which I just got from the HMV superstore a few months ago!)

"...one of my problems with baroque music is that I find there is less good music in that period than in other epocs.

"...in my opinion the only real worthwhile music for the forces of the Collegium Vocale is Bach. You can, of course, do Telemann, who is OK, but if a choice has to be made between Brahms and Telemann my own is very clear.

regarding his recording of Graupner, Kuhnau and Bruhns:
"...I'm now conducting a lot of Beethoven...the music is just so much better than Graupner."

Regarding Händel, he likes the operas but feels he doesn't have the proper sense of "lyric-dramatic talent" here's my shocker:
"As for the oratorios, I know they are much loved, but I'm sorry. I just don't find them very profound or interesting. The music I respond to most is well-written music on parts. With Händel you have one vocal line and a bass line. I can be amazingly effective if you have fantastic singers, but it is neither my main interest, not my main talent."

While he may still have some inkling to Bach, it is clear he has lost for a large part the wonder of the baroque-even to the point of making incorrect "observations" about Händel's oratorios (Israel in Egypt is imnsho the greatest monument of "part writing"-choral music-in the history of art, and many other oratorios, such as Susanna and Saul, are "merely" English sacred opera with, yes, more choral/"part writing" activity).

Despite his apparent ignorance of my absolute favourite music, I'm not saying at all that he doesn't have a right to his opinion-but since he has moved on from baroque music (his Mendelssohn Paulus is spectactular, the sound engineers' balance blemish notwithstanding), it is clear that money did not entice him to stay in the field.

Johan van Veen wrote (May 18, 2004):
Matthew Neugebauer wrote:
< Despite his apparent ignorance of my absolute favourite music, I'm not saying at all that he doesn't have a right to his opinion-but since he has moved on from baroque music (his Mendelssohn Paulus is spectactular, the sound engineers' balance blemish notwithstanding), it is clear that money did not entice him to stay in the field. >
If he "moves on" as you say I am not unhappy with that. I agree in regard to his Mendelssohn, which is great. He seems to have a thorough understanding of Mendelssohn's music (perhaps coming from Bach that is no big surprise) and he has made other fine recordings of 19th century vocal music as well. I am less convinced by his recordings of orchestral music, though. I often miss the sharp edges I find in the recordings of Harnoncourt, Gardiner or Van Immerseel.

I much less enjoyed his more recent recordings of Bach anyway. The 'remakes' of SMP and B-minor Mass are far less convincing - at least to my ears – than the first recordings he made (also due to some strange choices in regard to soloists). He once said he had 're-invented' legato, perhaps under the influence of his performances of romantic music. I don't think we need a lot of legato in Bach.

 

OT Herreweghe

Smoovus wrote (June 16, 2004):
How do you pronounce "Herreweghe?"

Joost wrote (June 16, 2004):
[To Smoovus] The first part, which has the main stress, sounds exactly like the German 'Herr'. The second 'e' is unaccented (in phonetical spelling it would be upside down). The next part sounds almost like the English 'way', and the 'gh' is pronounced as a 'j' in the Spanish José. The last 'e' is the same as the second one.

Smoovus wrote (June 16, 2004):
[To Joost] Thanks, joost! im glad i asked, ive been pronouncing the 'gh' part all wrong. so are these flemish rules of pronunciation?

What about phillipe? is the last 'e' pronounced?

Joost wrote (June 16, 2004):
Smoovus wrote:
< Thanks, joost! im glad i asked, ive been pronouncing the 'gh' part all wrong. so are these flemish rules of pronunciation? >
Well, since Phillippe is Flemish. yes, this is the way he would pronounce his name himself. By the way, the 'h' doesn't have any substantial meaning - without it there wouldn't be an audible difference.

< What about phillipe? is the last 'e' pronounced? >
No, it is like the French pronunciation, i.e. it's not pronounced.

 

In The Studio / Herreweghe and dreams

Sw Anandgyan wrote (October 25, 2004):
The October 2004 issue of the French magazine Classica-Repertore has reacheNorth America, at least Montréal, and in it I've read this tidbit that may interest some fans;

Philippe Herreweghe is recording the entirety of the Orlande de Lassus' Penitence Psalms with the Collegium Vocale.

Happy Listening

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 25, 2004):
[To Sw Anandgyan] The key word in your message is "entirety"
Entirety regarding Bach Cantata Cycle from Herreweghe is something about which we can only dream. AFAIK, Herreweghe has decalred that he has no plans for such enterprise.

Sw Anandgyan wrote (October 26, 2004):
[To Aryeh Oron] The lock word was Orlande de Lassus ...
No luck for the J.S. Bach aficionados !

Thankfully, we still can manage to spoil ourselves.

John Pike wrote (October 26, 2004):
[To Sw Anandgyan] I see Herreweghe is turning his attention to other stuff as well. There is a rave review in BBC music magazine this month of his new recording of Bruckner 7 with the orchestre des Champs Elysees, Harmonia Mundi HMC 901857. In the view of Martin Cotton, the reviewer, it is now the benchmark recording.

 

2 new recordings

Gabriel Jackson wrote (January 13, 2005):
In February 2 intersting new recordings are due:

Harmonia Mundi HMC901843

Philippe Herreweghe's series continues with BWV 12, BWV 38 & BWV 75
Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Mark Padmore (tenor) and Peter Kooy (bass)
with the Collegium Vocale of Ghent

(Has Herreweghe recorded a Bach Cantata disc with Peter Kooy?)

Chandos CHAN0715

In what is billed as "Early Cantats Vol 1" (I wonder how volumes there will be), the Purcell Quartet with Ema Kirkby, Michael Chance and Charles Daniels (not sure who the bass is) offer BWV 4, BWV 106, BWV 131 and BWV 196 (OVPP per part of course)

Adrian Horsewood wrote (January 13, 2005):
Gabriel Jackson wrote:
< (Has Herreweghe recorded a Bach Cantata disc with Peter Kooy?) >
He's recorded the cantatas for bass soloist (BWV BWV 56, BWV 82, BWV 158) with Kooy...

Gabriel Jackson wrote (January 13, 2005):
[To Adrian Horsewood] Sorry, that should have read "has Herreweghe recorded about a Bach Cantata disc WITHOUT Peter Kooy".........!

Adrian Horsewood wrote (January 13, 2005):
[To Gabriel Jackson] In that case... :o)

The only one I can think of is the Harmonia disc of alto cantatas, with only Andreas Scholl in sight...

Uri Golomb wrote (January 13, 2005):
Gabriel Jackson asked (taking his correction into account):

Has Herreweghe recorded a Bach Cantata disc without Peter Kooy?

Well, the set "Leipziger Weihnachtskantaten" contains two CDs, recorded a year apart. In the 2nd of these two CDs (Cantata BWV 63 and the E-flat major Magnificat (BWV 243a)), the bass soloist is Sebastian Noack. Kooy does, however, appear on the first CD (cantatas BWV 91, BWV 121 and BWV 133).

Also, the disc of Cantatas BWV 21 and BWV 42 features two bass soloists, Peter Kooy and Peter Harvey; Kooy appears in BWV 42, but not in BWV 21.

Finally, Kooy doesn't appear on Herrewghe's second recordings of the SMP and SJP (though he does appear in his first recordings of both works).

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 14, 2005):
[To Uri Golomb] And at the risk of splitting hairs, don't forget about the various Herreweghe participations toward the end of the Harnoncourt-Leonhardt series on Telefunken. He was the chorus master in some of those.

 

Herreweghe reissue box

Leila Batarseh wrote (February 3, 2005):
Just a short note to warn folks that Virgin's "4 Pleasure" reissue of Herreweghe cantatas and masses contains no texts whatsoever, much less translations. With 4 cds for the price of 1 I'm not complaining about having to print them out from the web, but I know some people would be more ticked off. Anyway, now you know.

Dorian Gray wrote (February 3, 2005):
In no way should the lack of texts and translations be an object in this set, considering the excellent quality of the recordings at an astonishingly low price. Besides, one hardly needs texts for any of the masses! Although I did enjoy discovering some of the Mass movements as parodies of more familiar cantatas. A good study in the adaptation of the mass texts to existing material. I HIGHLY recommend this set!

Craig Schweickert wrote (February 3, 2005):
[To Leila Batarseh] Yeah, I mentioned this a few months back. At least purchasers of the Bach set can download the texts and translations from the Bach Cantatas Website. Pity those of us who bought the Italian Cantatas box, chock-a-block with semi-obscure works by Bononcini, Caldara, Handel and A. Scarlatti, few if any of whose texts are to be found online.

Leila Batarseh wrote (February 3, 2005):
[To Craig Schweickert] Ouch! You have my heartfelt sympathy.

 

Herreweghe goes secular?

Aryeh Oron wrote (April 29, 2005):
Philippe Herreweghe has declared more than once that he does not plan to record a complete Bach cantata cycle. So far 17 CD's (on 16 albums) of cantatas under his direction have been released. Considering that a complete cantata cycle includes about 60 CD's, means that Herreweghe is indeed a long way from a goal he does not pretend to achieve. See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Herreweghe.htm

The mysterious latest addition is an album of the secular cantatas BWV 207 & BWV 214. I found the info of this album in Mark Padmore Website, but is not listed anywhere else. I have searched Amazon, Harmonia Mundi, Collegium Vocale, etc. to no avail.

Can anybody solve the mystery?

Teddy Kaufman wrote (April 30, 2005):
[To Aryeh Oron] I wonder if it would help you, I found the following information:

(MusicaWeb_net Tutta un'altra musica!.htm)

"...

La musica classica in Radio & Tv

lunedì 28 giugno, ore 20,05 RadioTre (Monday, June 28th,at 20.05 pm, 3rd channel, Radio)


In collegamento da Potsdam, il Collegium Vocale Orchestra e il Chorus, diretti da Philippe Herreweghe propongono la "Cantata BWV 214" la "Suite n.3 in re magg. per orchestra" e la "Cantata BWV 207" di Bach.
Solisti: il soprano Carolyn Sampson, il contralto Ingeborg Danz, il tenore Mark Padmore e il basso Peter Kooij." (26/06/2004)

Unfortunately, I did not find any more information about this recording.

 

Herreweghe 12, 38, 75

John Pike wrote (January 10, 2006):
Brad was asking about this last week. I listened to it yesterday after my wife gave it to me as a very welcome Xmas present. It is wonderful stuff, just what I have come to expect from Herreweghe. BWV 12 is particularly beautiful and the line up of soloists is superlative. Collegium Vocale are in fine form and so are the orchestra...highly recommended.

Craig wrote (January 11, 2006):
[To John Pike] I could not agree more, BWV 12 is an incredible piece, I also listened to it for the first time yesterday and had to keep repeating it. Herreweghe has done great job and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Neil Halliday wrote (January 11, 2006):
[To Craig] I'm listening to Gardiner's 12 now:
http://monteverdiproductions.co.uk/recordings/listen.cfm

Also fantastic; and if the sadness drives deep into one's psyche, then that's music, I suppose.

John Pike wrote (January 11, 2006):
Herreweghe 35, 54, 170 (was 12, 38, 75)

[To Neil Halliday] I started listening to this (Herreweghe BWV 170, BWV 54 and BWV 35...alto cantatas) on my way into work this morning. What an extraordinary way to start the day...listening to Andreas Scholl sithat sublime opening to cantata BWV 170, and then BWV 54 as well, two of my very favourite Bach cantatas, and very beautifully performed by both Scholl and the instrumentalists. I guess this CD has been out a while now, but I only got it for Xmas, along with a lot of of other Herreweghe cantata discs, and I have been totally overwhelmed.

Drew wrote (January 11, 2006):
[To John Pike] Yes, this is a sublime recording. I need to listen to it again -- haven't in a while.

Scholl makes the following comments (in his article "Singing Bach," Goldberg Mazagine, Vol. 34) about the difficulties he had recording the alto cantatas with Herreweghe:

-------------------------------------------
Feeling the incredible power and conviction of Bach's music, one could be tempted to feel unworthy of singing it. I had my share of problems with Herr Bach when I prepared the recording of the solo cantatas and recorded them; at one point I was almost in tears wanting to quit, thinking, "I am not good enough for this Bach." Fortunately, Philipe Herreweghe and his wife, the cellist Ageet Zwijstra, sensed my troubles and helped me through this with their support and meaningful music making.

To me the solo cantatas for alto (especially BWV 170 and BWV 35) are some of the most challenging pieces written for the alto voice. At many moments Bach's approach seems to be almost instrumental. There is little space to rest and breathe; Bach doesn't compromise his music in order to make it easier for the singer. One feels that he sends out the message: "Don't spoil this one; you'd better be good enough."
--------------------------------------------

You can access the entire article (and find other excellent articles, including an one on the cantatas by Koopman and an interview with M. Suzuki) at: <http://www.goldberg-magazine.com/en/magazine/31967.php>

Eric Bergerud wrote (January 11, 2006):
Herreweghe cantatas and masses (was 12, 38, 75)

[To John Pike] Herreweghe fans should certainly check out the Virgin Classics reissue of cantatas BWV 131, BWV 73, BWV 105, BWV 39, BWV 93, BWV 107 and masses BWV 233, BWV 236, BWV 235, BWV 234 and BWV 238. Barbara Schlick, Agnes Mellon, Howard Crook and Peter Kooy (among others) sing accompanied by the Collegium Vocale Ghent. The originals came out in 1990-91 so the engineering is fine and at $17 for four CDs (Amazon.com) it's money well spent. I'm partial to the masses and do need some more recordings of these now that my cantata collection is pretty much done (two performances of each single cantata and multiples of the major ones: but I've kept my mind open in case the new best thing comes along.)

Honestly I can't share the level of enthusiasm expressed here for Herreweghe. Herreweghe, Suzuki and Koopman all use period instruments and small adult choirs. (Didn't someone on list comment that Herreweghe shunned boys because of early association with Harnoncourt?) Each conductor leads splendid musicians and they are playing the world's greatest music. So, sure, I like them all. But I have to admit that if someone put a gun to my head I'd be hard put to distinguish one group from the other. (Suzuki's sonics are quite striking and that could be a tip off if I was listening with higher volume or earphones. That comes from the hall, I think, not the engineers. Everybody has good engineers now.) Maybe they should all sound the same if they're doing their job, but I'm not convinced on that point.

JEG is in the same category on paper, but there's something about the panache that puts his recordings in a different place - and not always for the best as the gent does not fear taking a chance. But for day in, day out listening I gravitate strongly to Harnoncourt/Leonhardt and Leusink. As I've mentioned no doubt too often I think boys work with Bach's cantatas. I like them in solo (usually) and consider them a definite plus in the chorus. In this regard Leusink gets very high marks from yours truly. If you're going to employ adult soloists, I'll listen to Ruth Holton with no objection. I remember one comment on the first "grand tour" done by the list a few years back from someone who had bought Leusink's collection from a Dutch drug store and felt he should have left them there as they simply gathered dust. It's been exactly the opposite with me. I picked up Leusink's volumes one by one on ebay just to make sure I had at least one copy of each cantata. Over time I've found myself listening to them more than I used to at the expense of time once given to Koopman and others. Obviously this is purely subjective and may say something bad about my aging ears. I wouldn't quibble if someone claimed that Koopman, Suzuki or Herreweghe all deploy superior musicians than Leusink worked with. And maybe Harnoncourt and Leonhardt committed serious crimes against historic Bach when making their cycle. But when those lovely trebles begin to sing all is forgiven by me. (When is some OVPP group take the plunge and use at least one boy in the group on a cantata? If nothing else it would be an interesting experiment - if four men, two of them boys, could really sing Bach cantatas in the 18th century, why not see if it's possible in the 20th? If it doesn't work, it might say something about the theory.)

BTW: I just picked up a CD of Beethoven sonatas played by Leonhardt's sister on a pianoforte: really nice stuff. Brilliant also has a four CD collection of Chopin & Field nocturnes all done on period pianos: super music if you're in a weepy mood.

 

Herreweghe

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 29, 2006):
< I like Herreweghe also and consider that wonderful 4CD set reissued by Virgin for $16 which includes BWV 39, 73, 93, 105, 107, 131, 233, 234, 236 and 238 to be one of the best "Bang for the Bach" offers out there. (...) Maybe I got off on the wrong foot. My first Herreweghe CD was Beethoven's 9th which I found a dud especially when compared to Gardiner's. >
If you care for the pieces, don't miss Herreweghe's two recordings of the Faure Requiem, and the various bits of Marc-Antoine Charpentier he has done, Mozart C minor mass and requiem, serenades K361/388, Mendelssohn's "St Paul" and the "Midsummer Night's Dream", and the assorted Gesualdo and Monteverdi and Schutz and "Pierrot Lunaire"!

Something that regularly impresses me about his work is his ability to get different but always stylish sounds out of all his various ensembles, with various pedigrees of instruments etc, and getting his instrumentalists to phrase the music like singers aware of the words.

And all this other experience enriches his Bach, and vice versa.

I wish he would record some Haydn and more Mozart!

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 29, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< I wish he would record some Haydn and more Mozart! >
Or Mahler? :-)

Who was it from the HIP crowd who did some Bruckner recently?

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (July 29, 2006):
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< Or Mahler? :-)
Who was it from the HIP crowd who did some Bruckner recently? >
more usually Harnoncourt but I am sure I recently heard a Herreweghe Bruckner broadcast that was impressive.

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 29, 2006):
<< I wish he would record some Haydn and more Mozart! >>
< Or Mahler? :-) >
I already have his "Das Lied von der Erde" but forgot to mention it; chamber orchestra version arranged by Schoenberg and Riehn!

< Who was it from the HIP crowd who did some Bruckner recently? >
Norrington did a symphony #3 back in 1996. Not to overlook Harnoncourt, who has done a bunch of them.

Oh yeah, Norrington (way back to 1973!) and Herreweghe (1989) both in the BrucE minor mass, both excellent.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 29, 2006):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] That's who it was - I think he did a Bruckner symphony on Harmonia Mundi...

Uri Golomb wrote (July 29, 2006):
Herreweghe and Gardiner

"HIP-Crowd" Mahler: Brad and others have already mentioned Herreweghe's and Norrington's motets, and Harnoncourt's symphonies (most or all with orchestras that are already quite familiar with these works -- I think hsi recordings so far were divided between the Vienna PHilharmonic and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw); but Herreweghe has also recroded two Bruckner symphonies with the Champs-Elysees Orchestra -- nos. 4 & 7. I've heard no. 7 on the radio a while ago -- a fine performance, though there have been others I enjoyed more.

Gardiner has also done some Bruckner -- the D minor Mass and motets, with his own choir and the Vienna Philharmonic. Haven't heard it yet, but I have high expectations from it.

Which reminds me -- a few days ago, a member asked why the issue of lack of preparation comes up in discussions of Leusink but not of Gardiner. Having heard several volumes from both, I must admit that, for me, the answer is quite simple: Gardiner is better... I quite enjoy many of Leusink's recordings; but there is something generalised and routine about them. Gardiner's Pilgrimage volumes -- at least those that I've heard -- are anything but routine; in terms of performative imagination and originality, and responsiveness to musical nuances, they exceed many rivals -- including many of Gardiner's own pre-Pilgrimage recordings.

I've only attended one pilgrimage concert, and was deeply moved by it; but during 2000, I also heard some live Pilgrimage broadcasts that were not quite as successful as the one I've heard live -- or the ones that I've heard so far from the recorded series. There were instances of scrappy, hurried performances. I encountered no examples of this in the volumes I've heard; but then, the series only just got started. I assume Soli Deo Gloria wanted to put their best put forward, and initiated the series with some of the best materials they had; the series as a whole will probably be somewhat uneven, but perhaps no more so than any other series of the complete cantatas. If only half of the remaining volumes will be at the inspired level of those that I've heard thus far, this would be enough to make Gardiner's series one of the most impressive Bach achievements on record.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (July 29, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
<< Or Mahler? :-) >>
< I already have his "Das Lied von der Erde" but forgot to mention it; chamber orchestra version arranged by Schoenberg and Riehn! >

This curiosity of which there are a number or recordings and additionally air-checks might just about qualify as OVPP Mahler. The Erwin Stein et al Mahler4 and Bruckner7 with the Linos ensemble are really OVPP. The Bruckner which I have before me has the following players and instruments: clarinet, horn TWO violins, viola, cello, double-bass, piano, and harmonium.

I must admit that after listening some time ago to the Mahler4, I never opened the Bruckner. Come on, guys, such items are not Mahler or Bruckner. They suited the group and time for which they were created.

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 29, 2006):
Uri Golomb wrote:
< a few days ago, a member asked why the issue of lack of preparation comes up in discussions of Leusink but not of Gardiner. Having heard several volumes from both, I must admit that, for me, the answer is quite simple: Gardiner is better... I quite enjoy many of Leusink's recordings; but there is something generalised and routine about them. >

I think we are saying more or less the same thing from opposite perspectives. No need to criticize Leusink for allowing inadequate preparation time, if you feel that Gardiner can accomplish good results with even less preparation. This does not necessarily mean that Leusink's performances are good (I happen to enjoy the ones that I have listened to so far), just that the shortcomings should not automatically be attributed to lack of preparation.

Indeed, what sounds generalized and routine could also be called consistent. Perhaps this consistency is in fact over preparation; the use of consistent performers and recording conditions. Perhaps the energy Gardiner generates is just the opposite, a live performance under conditions where everyone is working near the edge of chaos.

Robin Kinross wrote (July 29, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I think we are saying more or less the same thing from opposite perspectives. No need to criticize Leusink for allowing inadequate preparation time, if you feel that Gardiner can accomplish good results with even less preparation >
In fact the Gardiner players had two days' rehearsal per concert, while the Leusink players had less rehearsal time than that. The Leusink recordings were heavily edited. The Gardiner recordings much less edited -- I think just a few "patches" inserted sometimes.

< Perhaps the energy Gardiner generates is just the opposite, a live > performance under conditions where everyone is working near the > edge of chaos. >
Yes, very "live" -- but I never feel it's anywhere near chaos.

Robin Kinross (married to one of the players)

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 29, 2006):
Robin Kinross wrote:
< In fact the Gardiner players had two days' rehearsal per concert, while the Leusink players had less rehearsal time than that. The Leusink recordings were heavily edited. The Gardiner recordings much less edited -- I think just a few "patches" inserted sometimes.
Yes, very "live" -- but I never feel it's anywhere near chaos. >
<Chaos> was not a well-chosen word, just writing quickly. What I was getting at is exactly what you are saying, the energy generated by live performance on a demanding schedule.

I am interested in your opinion as to whether differences in rehearsal opportunities actually contribute to the differences between the Leusink and Gardiner cycles? I am just beginning to listen to both of them, as part of the BCW weekly discussions, still with as open a mind as I can manage.

 

The Latest Cantata Disc from Philippe Herreweghe

Drew (BWV846-893) wrote (April 10, 2008):
Amazon.com

This new release features the three of the four astonishingly beautiful cantatas composed for the 16th Sunday after Trinity:
BWV 161, "Komm, du suesse Todesstunde"
BWV 95, "Christus, der is mein Leben"
BWV 27, "Wer weiss, wie nahe mir mein Ende"

(Herreweghe previously recorded the fourth cantata for Trinity 16 - BWV 8, "Liebster Gott, wenn werd ich sterben" - one of my favorite recordings of any Bach cantata).

The new disc is rounded out by the solo soprano cantata for Septuagesima Sunday, "Ich bin vergnuegt mit meinem Glücke" (BWV 84), featuring Dorothee Mields and Marcel Ponseele on oboe.

Initial impressions: Herreweghe sensitively conveys the stunning opening chorus of BWV 27 (this chorus gives me goosebumps), as we might expect.

Still, it is understated in comparison to Gardiner's reading (SDG, Vol. 8), which grabs you by the heartstrings - especially the moment when Mark Padmore cries out, "Mein Gott." Truly magical and full of pathos.

John Pike wrote (April 10, 2008):
[To Drew] These, and BWV 8 which Drew mentions, are some of my very favourite cantatas. Someone recenly mentioned the glorious "Schlage doch bald" from BWV 95, but the whole cantata is a gem, and Herreweghe one of my favourite exponents of Bach. Sounds like a must have.

Aryeh Oron wrote (April 10, 2008):
You can find all the details of the latest cantata recordings from Suzuki, Herreweghe & Kuijken at the page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Rec/Rec-2008-03.htm

 

Herreweghe and Flemish

Michael Cox wrote (November 12, 2010):
This year's winner of the Leipzig Bach Medal, Philippe Herreweghe, well deserves this recognition. Up till now I have only known a few of his cantata recordings.

As I write I am listening to his recording of the Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) (1985) for the first time.

Some brief comments:

1. Members of amateur or semi-professional choirs whose mother-tongue is a Romance language (French, Spanish, Italian etc.) may sometimes have problems pronouncing a) voiced plosives as in the Germanic languages, including English, Dutch/Flemish, the Scandinavian languages, b) the Germanic h sound.
On Herreweghe's recording Chorus I is a French choir, although there are a number of Dutch/Flemish names. Chorus II is almost exclusively Flemish as concerns surnames, many with French first names.
I would expect Belgian choirs to be bilingual French-Flemish. The very name Philippe Herreweghe is French-Flemish.
I can hear no difference in pronunciation between the two choirs, thanks perhaps in part to the linguistic preparation by Rudolf Bautz. If I was in charge, (which fortunately I'm not!), I would have mixed the two choirs up to ensure a linguistically homogenous sound.
2. What I find very interesting and delightful is that in the booklet the French translation shows clearly the linguistic difference between Luther's German Bible translation and the arias and choruses by translating Luther's German (evangelist, Jesus etc.) into old French, and the arias and choruses into modern(ish) French.

I'll continue listening!

Michael Cox wrote (November 12, 2010):
Sorry, I meant aspirated plosives: the little puff of air that follows the sounds b, g, d (voiced) and p, k, t (unvoiced) that is so noticeable in English and German. Swedish and Norwegian soloists have an advantage when singing German, since their language has aspirated plosives. But Finnish has non-aspirated plosives, as does the Swedish spoken in Finland due to the influence of the Finnish language. Some members of my Finnish choir find it difficult to aspirate their German and English. In older German the puff of air is even visible in the orthography. E.g. Tür - Thür, tun - thun. And another problematic sound is th (voiced as in "the", "this" and unvoiced as in "think"), which can become de, dis, and tink. If only all performing choirs could attend a course in basic phonetics!

 

Herreweghe Cantata recordings - Private label release due October 2012

Randy Lane wrote (September 29, 2012):
For those who collect Phillipe Herreweghe's Bach Cantata recordings, the first Bach cantata release on the semi-private label PHI, founded a few years go to strictly feature Herreweghe's work (he pretty much is fully in charge of all productions for teh label), is due in the USA soon.

Advanced copies are already available from Arkiv Music, though at a seemingly steep price as always: http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/Label?album_group=1&label_id=15453

I pre-ordered a copy from ImportCds for less, though the price has increase a buck or so since I placed my order: http://www.importcds.com//Music/2500223

The release has contatas BWV 25, BWV 46, BWV 105, and BWV 138. Herreweghe has never recorded #25 or #46. A recording of #105 was made with Herreweghe in 1990 by Virgin, and a recording of BWV 138 was made with Herreweghe by Harmonia Mundi 1998.

I do not know if these new cantata recordings were made in Berlin's Jesus-Christus Kirche, which is where the consdustor's two prior Bach recordings for this new lable were made in 2011 (the Mass in B minor (BWV 232) and the Motets). I surely hope the same recording venue was used this time, and will be for future releases.

 

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

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Last update: ęDecember 30, 2012 ę12:45:57