Ton Koopman & Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
Complete Cantatas - Vol. 13
Koopman’s Cantatas Vol. 13
Marten Breuer wrote (August 3, 2002):
Some time ago, we've been discussing the discontinuation of Koopman's Cantata cycle by Warner Brothers. Unfortunately, the petition lodged by us did not have the effect we had intended. However, now we've good news: see the Ton Koopman Newsletter below:
"We have good news !
Ton Koopman has succeeded in finding a new company to continue the Bach Complete Canatas Series. As you might know Warner Classical discontinued the
series earlier this year after the release of Volume 12.
We are happy to announce that in october 2002 Volume 13 will be released under a new label.
Details can not be given at this time but will be in due time. You will be informed via this newsletter or directly on our website."
Koopman - Complete Cantatas Volume 13
Aryeh Oron wrote (October 21, 2002):
I have some preliminary information, which I was allowed to publish, about the upcoming release of 'The Complete Cantatas' - Volume 13, conducted by Ton Koopman.
This is the continuation of the complete cantatas with Ton Koopman and Amsterdam Baroque. This project, originally on the Erato label, went as far as 12 volumes but it was dropped. The new label, Andante, picked it up and so this release will be volume 13 of that series
The volume will include: Cantatas BWV 1, BWV 62, BWV 96, BWV 38, BWV 93, BWV 33, BWV 133, BWV 122 and BWV 92
The soloists are: soprano Deborah York, alto Franziska Gottwald, tenor Paul Agnew and bass Klaus Mertens.
The album will be released in 3-CD format, as before.
No release date yet.
Thierry van Bastelaer wrote (October 22, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks for this info, Aryeh. After the rapid-fire release of volumes 1-12, I was indeed wondering why 13 was taking so long.
Am I the only one to be disappointed by the presence of Paul Agnew on this release? While he's excellent in French baroque music, I find his mannerisms and suavity very distracting in Bach. Does anyone know how soloists are chosen in such series? First one available in a list of possible candidate, or dogged insistence on one name by the conductor?
Matthew Neugebauer wrote (October 26, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] I was just wondering, do the Koopman cycle cds come with liner notes?
I'm asking because I borrowed a volume from the library (forget the number, but it had BWV 21 on it) and it didn't have any liner notes-I was very confused about the whole ordeal, not knowing where the cantatas began or ended (except of course BWV 21, my personal favourite)
Aryeh Oron wrote (October 26, 2002):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] Koopman's volumes on Erato come with extensive booklets. The liner notes include the usual staff, such as Text (German, English, French), performers's biographies, commentary, etc. I find that Wolff's commentary to the cantatas are usually rather slim and not very enlightening.
I am not if the new label, which took over the project starting from Volume 13 onward, will use the same contributors.
Dave Harman wrote (May 20, 2003):
I have heard from time to time that Vol 13 of the Koopman Cantata series has been released on the Antoine Marchand label, but to date, I have been unable to find it.
Does anyone on this list have information on release and availabilty ? Thanks
Riccardo Nughes wrote (May 20, 2003):
[To Dave Harman] Look here : http://www.antoinemarchand.nl/eng/indexeng.htm
It's on sale also on www.amazon.fr
Joost wrote (May 20, 2003):
[To Dave Harman] Today I saw it in a shop in the Netherlands. Don't know how long it will take to cross the border(s)..
Ehud Shiloni wrote (June 2, 2003):
Flying low under the radar, and trying not to get caught in the cross-fire of the raging musicological war of the Titans, this Captain Tom is happy to report to ground control of all the lowly "civilians" on our List:
KOOPMAN IS BACK!!
And with flying colours!
Just received volum 13 of the Cantatas project, this time under Koopman's own Label - Antoine Marchand. Have so far listened only to CD #1 with BWV 1, BWV 62 and BWV 96, and I'm happy to report that the thrill is back. The opening chorus of BWV 62 is as good as Herreweghe's or even better, and BWV 96 is altogether fascinating. Soloists are old hands York, Agnew and Mertens, plus a new alto - Franziska Gottwald, who has a very interesting voice.
I am very happy with my new possession, and I would like to plead with all of you to support Koopman's individual project and consider making a purchase when its time for your next shopping spree. Granted, prices, even on his online store, are not cheap, but we have to show those sorry bubbleheads at Warner that music making can live on without their "help".
Tom Brannigan wrote (Jun2, 2003):
Ehud Shiloni wrote: "......Granted, prices, even on his online store, are not cheap, but we have to show those sorry bubbleheads at Warner that music making can live on without their "help"......"
Amen to that brother !! I will place my order for Volume 13 shortly.
Fighting Against Banality,
Neil Halliday wrote (June 3, 2003):
[To Ehud Shiloni] Sorry, Ehud.
As one of the "lowly civilians" on this list, I am unable to support the Koopman Cantata project.
Several years back, I recall being disappointed (to use a genteel word) by Koopman's treatment of Bach's harpsichord concertos. They seemed to me to be the perfect example of presenting the music in a musicological-historical straight-jacket.
How many times has a Koopman cantata treatment been nominated as the best available, in the discussions on this list? Why are Richter and Rilling so often chosen as among the best of the available recordings of the various cantata movements?
Uri Golomb wrote (June 3, 2003):
[To Ehud Shiloni] Thanks for the reminder! I recently received this volume from Goldberg for review. I promised Aryeh that I would send it here first, as the issue of Goldberg (which will also contain an interview with Koopman) is only due out in September. So here it is:
This long-awaited volume marks the renewal of Koopman's series of the complete Bach cantatas. Here, he directs cantatas from Bach's second annual cycle (1723/4). The performances are warm, gentle and sensitive. Some seem too genteel: the duet in Cantata BWV 93, for example, would have benefited from a more incisive approach; the storm aria in cantata BWV 92 could have been stormier. Elsewhere, however (for example, in the opening choruses of Cantatas BWV 33 and BWV 133), there is considerable thrust and vigour; and the gentle approach often proves moving and rewarding. I particularly enjoyed cantatas BWV 62, BWV 122 and BWV 92, where Koopman insures textural clarity and a sense of momentum and purpose without sacrificing warmth of sound and expression. A similar approach in Cantata BWV 96, however, is marred by the speed of the opening chorus. Christoph Wolff, in his typically informative yet perfunctory notes, writes that this movement's "length and rich sonorities" give it "unusual weight"; but Koopman's rushed performance renders it lightweight. There are some controversial moments in Koopman's scoring; his alternation of chorus (on chorale-derived lines) and soloists (on non-chorale materials) is not always convincing. The solo singing itself, however, is excellent (notwithstanding a few harsh phrases from Deborah York), and all four soloists display a keen understanding of the texts. I especially enjoyed Paul Agnew's subtly-controlled and expressively-rich singing. The palpable sense of wonder in his Cantata BWV 62 aria, "Bewundert, o Menschen", was revelatory. Another highlight is Franziska Gottwald's contemplative and touching rendition of "Wie furchtsam wankten meine Schritte" (in Cantata BWV 33).Despite my reservations, then, I strongly recommend this set. More could have been made of Bach's drama, but the performances are often insightful and deeply-felt.
Thus far the review (I've been limited to 270 words). Goldberg's policy forced me to rate items on a five-star system. I don't like this system -- I much prefer Gramophone's recent approach, where each review is opened with a one-line summary, but not stars. I gave this set four stars. Some performances within it -- such as those of BWV 62 and BWV 122 (as well as many indiividual movements in other cantatas, some of which I mentioned above) -- have brought me close to five stars; but I did have reservations elsewhere. With regards to the solo/tutti alternation: in one place (the opening of Cantata BWV 93 -- Koopman is like Rilling here, in this respect), I did find it musically convincing; but elsewhere, and especialy in the recitative in cantata BWV 92 (where a bass soloists alternates with choral basses: why do this here, but not in the similarly-structured recitative-cum-chorales in cantata BWV 93?), I found the effect fussy and distracting.
Anyway -- on the whole, a very enjoyable and often inspiring issue. In general, I usually prefer Suzuki to Koopman, but it's often a close-call thing. (As far as I recall, Suzuki has not yet recorder the cantatas on this set), and I know that many other listeners have the opposite preference.
I should also mention that Antoine Marchand has just re-issued Volume 1 of the series. According to his stated plans, it should not be too long before all the existing volumes (nos. 1-12) are once more placed before the public.The interview is accompanied by reviews of four selected recordings. One of these will be volume 1 -- which I gave five stars (I did find it, on the whole, more consistent than this new volume -- even though, in terms of solo singing, I think the new one has a slight edge). But, as I said, I find the star system itself problematic.
Ehud Shiloni wrote (June 3, 2003):
[To Neil Halliday]
1. By "civilian" I mean unschooled in music. You don't really strike me as one "qualified" for the title .....;-)
2. I don't disagree with your observation that Koopman is not the best shot if you are looking always for "the best" version. I myself once classified his approach as too much "middle of the road". Still, I do find his cantatas to be at least "good" with many of them "very good".
3. It is of course a matter of personal taste, but I gave up on collecting Rilling and Richter, trying to limit my buying only to specific volumes based on particularly good recommendations. I do collect all new releases by Suzuki and by Koopman - obviously my heart goes the HIP way.
4. Another strictly personal observation: I get the distinct impression that all the contemporary conductors are learning a lot from one another. I am unable to express this point in professional terms, but I do sense this phenomena. Herreweghe had "dreamy" and mellow performances in the early 80's , while his later efforts showed a lot more verve and "cojones". Gardiner early Erato recordings are a horrible "mush", while later on he became fire personified. I even feel a difference between early and late Rilling cantatas, with many qualities picked - no doubt - from the HIP crowd along the way. As far as Koopman goes, I do feel that his "hand" gets better with the years, away from the over-ornamented, light touch approach and more towards where I do wish to find him... [Suzuki is possibly the only one to have hit the tarmac running at full throttle right from volume one].
5. If you stayed away from Koopman based on his Harpsichord playing you may be doing yourself an injustice. I'd recommend testing the water, starting with vol. 13, and if it will cause you a change of heart, you will easily find the older issues at discounted prices.
New Ton Koopman Release for Bach Cantatas
Kim Patrick Clow wrote (July 8, 2003):
I was at Tower Records and saw the new Vol 13 of the Complete Bach Cantata Cycle with Ton Koopman conducting. Has anyone on the list heard it? Any thoughts? Same high quality recordings as was on Erato?
Ton Koopman: Short Biography | Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
Recordings: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Koopman’s Petition | Newsletters
Individual Recordings: Koopman on TV | Cantatas Vol. 1 | Cantatas Vol. 6 | Cantatas Vol. 9 | Cantatas Vol. 10 | Cantatas Vol. 13 | BWV 247 – Koopman | Ton Koopman’s Well Tempered Clavier Book 1 | Bach Sonatas for Gamba and Harpsichord | Review – Bach Orchestral Suites DVD