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Sigiswald Kuijken & La Petite Bande
Cantatas 9, BWV 94 & BWV 187


J.S. Bach: Cantatas BWV 9, 94 & 187


Cantatas BWV 9 [21:49], BWV 94 [26:21], BWV 187 [19:48]

Sigiswald Kuijken

(OVPP - No Choir) / La Petite Bande

Soprano: Midori Suzuki; Mezzo-soprano: Magdalena Kožená; Tenor: Knut Schoch; Bass: Jan Van der Crabben
Organ: Siebe Henstra

Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77528

Nov 20-22, 1999

CD / TT: 68:26

Recorded at Athen, Concert Hall, based on a live performance.
See: Cantatas BWV 9, BWV 94 & BWV 187 - conducted by Kuijken
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New Bach Cantata recording - Kuijken (OVPP)

Thomas Gebhardt (Collegium Cantorum Köln) wrote (January 10, 2001):
I was happy to receive a review copy of Sigiswald Kuijken's/La Petite bande Bach Cantatas BWV 9, BWV 94 and BWV 187.

Kuijken follows the Rifkin/Parrott arguments in favour of "One voice per part" performance for Bach cantatas, and IMHO his set of soloists [Midori Suzuki (well-known from Masaaki Suzuki's recordings), Magdalena Kožená (simply wonderful!), Knut Schoch (even if he is the weakest soloist on this recording, he's still strong enough to compete with many others) and Jan Van der Crabben] set new standards for OVPP-performances.

The band playing is brillant and the overall impression leaves me more than satisfied with this recording, and especially with Kuijken's decision to use only 4 singers.
By the way he also explains his view of the choir/soloists debate in the CD booklet texts. You find it also on the homepage of "La petite bande" (sorry, I don't have the URL at hand).

It is to hope that there will come out more OVPP-Bach cantata recordings over the next months and years that argue stronger for this convincing theory than Rifkin's own recordings did (maybe not his fault but that of his soloists).

One point that hasn't be made too often is the question of language and pronunciation: many very well reviewed Bach recordings (especially by English, not to speak of American, but also from Dutch soloists, ensembles and choirs) suffer from horrible German pronunciation that might not to be too easy to notice by non-German listeners. Also in this point, Kuijkens singers do very well. Surprisingly enough I find (I am a German, by the way, as you might have guessed from my English grammar...) the Japanese (Suzuki's) singers do the best job in this regard (neglecting Germans, of course).

A fuller review of the new Kuijken CD will appear in the German Early Music Magazine "Concerto", probably in the March issue.

Charles Francis wrote (January 10, 2001):
< Thomas wrote: By the way he also explains his view of the choir/soloists debate in the CD booklet texts. You find it also on the homepage of "La petite bande" (sorry, I don't have the URL at hand). >

OVPP articles on B-Minor Mass (in English):

and Cantatas (in Dutch I'm afraid):

Kožená News / Kuijken OVPP recording

Riccardo Nughes
wrote (January 30, 2001):
I am a new member and I write from Milan, Italy. In February it will be published a new Bach cantatas CD on the DHM label performed by the great M. Kožená accompanied by "La Petite Bande". Probably we'll have new versions of cantatas per soprano solo. "La Petite Bande" and M. Kožená toured France together in 1999 summer but there weren't solo cantatas on the bill, however let's hope well! I've heard live M. Kožená in Milan singing in "Juditha Triumphans", a Vivaldi oratorio: she's wonderful!

Thomas Gebhardt (Collegium Cantorum Köln) wrote (January 30, 2001):
(To Riccardo Nughes) Probably you are speaking of this one

J.S. BACH · Cantatas BWV 9, BWV 94, BWV 187
Midori Suzuki (Soprano), Magdalena Kožená (Mezzo-soprano), Knut Schoch (Tenor), Jan Van der Crabben (Baritone) · La Petite Bande · Sigiswald Kuijken
DHM 05472 77528 2
(P) and (C) 2001 is stated on the sleeve (although I have received a review copy in December 2000 already)

It's the latest (and probably one of the best) example for the "One-Voice-Per-Part-Theory" style Bach Cantata recording. I have received a review copy and had already mentioned it in a posting about 2 weeks

Go and hear it! It's marvellous!

Riccardo Nughes wrote (January 30, 2001):
(To Thomas Gebhardt) Thanks Thomas, I'm in this list since 5 days only so I wasn't able to read your message. Life is easy when you've got preview copies, isn't it? ;-)

I heard those 3 cantatas (choral cantatas after the Trinity) in Milan (17-11-1999) but in that occasion M. Kožená was replaced by Patricia Hardt....I remember a great performance by Jan Van der Crabben, he is a very interesting bass. The Petite Bande also played the triple concerto BWV 1044.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (January 30, 2001):
(To Thomas Gebhardt) I hope you'll let us know when this recording is available to the public. I searched Amazon, Tower and HB direct and did not find it. Any suggestions?

Thomas Gebhardt (Collegium Cantorum Köln) wrote (January 30, 2001):
(To Harry J. Steinman) You'll find it on the German jpc pages (worldwide shipping) at:

or here the direct link: JPC

(Copy all of this and insert it into the address window of your browser)

It's at a special price now (until February 15th)

Just to mention this: I'm not connected in any way to the business of JPC - I am only a customer (and very happy with the JPC service).

Charles Francis wrote (February 12, 2001):
Just a reminder that the JPC special offer ends February 15th, so hurry! This is a "must have" recording - currently its my nomination for the "2001 Best Bach Recording" :-)

Harry J. Steinman wrote (February 12, 2001):
(To Charles Francis) How frustrating! I'd love to get this but alas! I speak not a word of German and can't figure out what to do! Suggestions?

Thomas Gebhardt wrote (February 12, 2001):
(To Harry J. Steinman) Go to: and click on the British flag - there you'll find everything in English.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (February 12, 2001):
(To Thomas Gebhardt) Thanks, Thomas. I started to order this, but the shipping was more than the recording! The recording was about US $12 and the shipping about US $21!! I think I shall wait till the CD is released in the USA...unless there is some reason why I should get it right away? It will be released, eventually, in the USA, yes?

Pieter Pannevis wrote (February 12, 2001):
(To Harry J. Steinman) If we tuck it in with the Leusink ones...

Matthew Westphal wrote (February 12, 2001):
(To Harry J. Steinman) O h H a r r y . . . I wouldn't count on that at all

If it were Harmonia Mundi France or some smaller independent label, yes, but dhm is a "major" - a subsidiary of, in this case, BMG. You just can't be suof any given release by the "majors" appearing in the US.

I'm combining my purchase of that disc with that of Rifkin's old Magnificat (still available in Germany).

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 12, 2001):
(To Pieter Pannevis) Please do truck in the rest of the Leusink ones at least!

Pieter Pannevis wrote (February 13, 2001):
(To Yoël L. Arbeitman) You are serious ?

Diederik Peters wrote (February 13, 2001):
(To Harry J. Steinman) FYI, in spite of the shipping costs I have ordered dozens of CDs from this company at a savings of at least 30% of what I would have paid for them here in the US. The idea is to order in quantity.

Thomas Gebhardt wrote (February 13, 2001):
If you're going to order from would you mind to state in your order that you are following my recommendation, given in the Bach Cantata Group!? This wouldn't be any harm to you and possibly would allow me to receive a complimentary CD for my recommendation. Just if you don't care... I would be pleased!

OVPP suggestions / La Petite Bande

Riccardo Nughes wrote (March 27, 2001):
Well I don't want to enter in the OVPP debate for the moment. That's because I haven't read yet the A.Parrott book that represents nowadays the deepest study about this question. If we want to talk about OVPP we must talk about this book otherwise the discussion will be useless as S. Bakker has rightly noted.

All I can say now is that I've heard live two times "La Petite Bande" playing Bach cantatas in OVPP "versions" and I had a very good impression both times. So I decided to buy OVPP recordings and I started with the Naxos CD dedicated to the Christmas (actually Advent) cantatas by Aradia Ensemble : this is a good CD and, being at budget price, I recommend it to everyone who is interested in beginning this musical "adventure" (yes, this is an adventure, we have to look over our musical practices about Bach cantatas).

Then I bought the Mass BWV 232 by J. Rifkin on Erato Ultima label. I was astonished by the beauty of this version. Finally I bought last week the Petite Bande CD featuring cantatas BWV 9, BWV 94 & BWV 187: it's a wonderful recording that I'd like to review more carefully in the next days.

Well now I'd like to buy others OVPP recordings, so I ask some suggestions to...OVPP"experts":
- having to choose between the 2-CD set "Actus tragicus" by J. Rifkin and the Cantus Cölln CD, what's your advice?
- same question for the Magnificat (BWV 243): 2-CD set by Parrott or the latest one by McCreesh?
- Johannes Passion (BWV 245): is the Naxos 2-CD set a good choice? Does it follows the Bach score?
- finally, what about Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) by A. Parrott : except the Penguine Guide 2000 appendix I've read only bad reviews (especially on the French magazines).

Thanks to all for their attention.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (March 28, 2001):
(To Riccardo Nughes) Where did you get the Petite Bande recording that included BWV 9, BWV 94 and BWV 187? I searched the usual places (Amazon, Tower, HB Direct) and didn't see it...I did see a recording by PB that included 92, 49 and 58...but Amazon and Tower both suggested that this disc was 'special order' and would take a long time, if ever, to acquire. Suggestions?

Riccardo Nughes wrote (March 28, 2001):
(To Harry J. Steinman) I bought it "old style", in a record shop! I remember that Matthew Westphal told that probably this recording shouldn't be available in the USA but I'm not sure. It is not available also on amazon uk. You can find in German amazon:
and on French amazon:

Harry J. Steinman wrote (March 28, 2001):
(To Riccardo Nughes) Thanks, Ricardo. Now if only I could speak German...seriously, let me ask a dumb question (and please don't tell me that there are no dumb questions. I take that as a personal challenge! ;D ) How much is DM 31,99 in US$? Or is it less costly to go to the French site and pay EUR 17,51 or FF 114,86? And how much would shipping cost? Better to buy from France or Germany or is it all about the same? Youth wants to know!

It looks like an interesting recording, if I can figure out how to buy it...and if I can afford it! Can't imagine what the shipping runs!

Michael Grover wrote (March 28, 2001):
(To Harry J. Steinman) Here's a link to a good currency converter:
Currently, DM 31,99 = $14.52
EUR 17,51 = FF 114,86 = $15.55

For me, the easiest way to find out how much shipping is going to be, is to place a "fake" order on the site. In other words, I go ahead and place in my cart, etc. and go all the way through until you get to the part when you would put in your payment information. Usually by that point, you have already been shown the final total including shipping. Then you can either go ahead and pay or cancel the order.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (March 28, 2001):
(To Michael Grover) Thanks and thanks for the referral. Happy listening, Harry

Digest Number 167 / Sigiswald Kuijken CD

Nicholas Baumgarner wrote (July 6, 2001):
< Kirk McElhearn wrote: Have a look at Parrott's book on the subject. See my review here: >
Kirk, what a nice review! In it, you list a number of performers besides Parrott who have followed Rifkin's approach: Paul McCreesh, Conrad Junghänel, Cantus Cölln. I would add Sigiswald Kuijken to this list. I am not entirely sure whether he has actually recorded anything one on a part, but he did tell me this is something he has been experimenting with, and has found convincing--despite his initial skepticism.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 6, 2001):
[To Nicholas Baumgartner] I have not heard any of his recordings, but I know he just released a new cantata disc. Anyone have any comments on it?

Charles Francis wrote (July 6, 2001):
[To Kirk MacElhearn] I have not heard any of his recordings, but I know he just released a new cantata disc. Anyone have any comments on it?

Yoel L. Arbeitman wrote (July 6, 2001):
[To Charles Francis] What's on it????

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 6, 2001)
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Look at the following page in the Bach Cantatas Website:

Charles Francis wrote (July 7, 2001):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Here's a couple of reviews; the German one has on-line buying options (if you still want it after their review!).

By the way the recording was made 20-22 November 1999 in the Athen Concert Hall and is based on a live performance. The sound quality is excellent, however, as if made in a recording studio.

Charles Francis wrote (July 7, 2001):
BTW, you'll find Real Audio clips through the JPC link. The OVPP action is 1, 8, 16 (opening chori) and 15 and 22 (closing chorales) - for some reason they left out the remaining chorale.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (July 7, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron & Charles Francis] Thanks Aryeh and Charles. Now that German reviewer is not very happy with the concept or with the execution at all. Schade. :-)

Charles Francis wrote (July 7, 2001):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Actually, the opening of the article reads "Sigiswald Kujiken bring you three brilliant testimonies to the highest art of Christian faith" - so they do like it! But, the author complains about poor intelligibility of the words due to the use of One Voice Per Part and notes thaeven if Rifkin's theory of OVPP is correct and even if this was what Bach actually did, the lack of a choir results in a loss of majesty, power and ardour/fervour.

So, they take issue with OVPP, and not with Kujiken's performance as such.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (July 7, 2001):
[To Charles Francis] I do not read the review the same as you. Tell me if I am missing something. Freely here is what I get (I comment and freely render between the parts):
Drei herrliche Zeugnisse der allerhöchsten Kunst christlichen Glaubens bringt Sigiswald Kujiken zu Gehör: Bachs Choralkantaten BWV 9 - sie entstand zwischen 1732 und 1735 - und BWV 94 von 1724, und die Kantate BWV 187 von 1726. Hier, wo es um Glauben, Demut und Lobpreisung Gottes geht, herrscht kein süßlicher Ergriffenheitston, nichts Sentimentales oder Theatralisches.

Charles: Up to there I read the review's happy words as referring to Bach's cantatas, not to the performance at all.

Dazu ist Sigiswald Kuijkens Lesart der Partitur viel zu analytisch, zu rational.

Here about the worst one can say about a musical reading. And that refers to SK.

Er folgt ganz Joshua Rifkin, der vor fast zwei Jahrzehnten die Alte-Musik Gemeinde mit seinen radikalen Besetzungsideen zu Bach-Kantaten erschütterte. Seinerzeit wandte Rifkin sich gegen die gängige Praxis, mehrere Sänger eine Partie singen zu lassen bzw. einen Chor einzusetzen, und besetzte von nun an die Partien konsequent

Tells us about OVPP practice per Rifkin.

Selbst wenn Rifkins Thesen historisch legitimiert sind und die Praxis zu Bachs Zeiten so gewesen sein sollte, wie er es beschreibt, so finde ich, dass das Fehlen eines Chores den Stücken Kraft, Gewicht und Inbrunst nimmt.

Even if Rifkin's theses are historically legitimate re the practice in Bach's time, ...., to me the lack of a chorus deprives the parts of power, weight and passion.

Leider vermag Kuijken dies trotz stimmgewaltiger Solisten nicht auszugleichen,

Alas in spite of powerfully-voiced soloists, K is not able to compensate for this.

vielleicht weil es - besonders den Frauenstimmen - sehr an Wortverständlichkeit mangelt. Schade

Maybe because there is an insufficiency --- esp. in the female voices of verbal clarity. Too bad.

Charles Francis wrote (July 7, 2001):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] "Hier, wo es um Glauben, Demut und Lobpreisung Gottes geht, herrscht kein süßlicher Ergriffenheitston, nichts Sentimentales oder Theatralisches. Dazu ist Sigiswald Kuijkens Lesart der Partitur viel zu analytisch, zu rational."

When they speak of "süßlicher Ergriffenheitston" this is negative in German (sweet, "kitschig") so in that context the implication is that the reviewer prefers the analytical, rational interpretation of Kuijkens, which avoids sentimentality and theatricality.

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 7, 2001):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman & Charles Francis] For what it is worth looking at the excerpts that Yoel supplied of this critic's opinion, it appears to me that the critic is generally faulting SK for not being able to overcome the limitations of Rifkin's OVVP performance practice as it pertains particularly to the inability to compensate for the lack of vocal projection (and that with full-voiced, trained vocalists who obviously are unable to enunciate the words sufficiently so that they can be understood by the audience/congregation - the sopranos and altos being the worst offenders.)

The critic/reviewer, at the beginning, seems to say : As much as I would want to hear these Bach cantatas performed with belief, humility, and praise, devoid of any sentimentality and theatricality, Kuijkens succeeds in presenting these cantatas without the latter, but his approach goes too far in thisdirection (the direction of avoiding sentimentality and theatricality) by being overly analytical and rational.

Regarding theatricality: I just read somewhere of a recent performance of Bach cantatas in Basel where the cantatas are being staged as well as being performed. What does this relatively new trend involve? Do the singers move about, or do they bring in dancers for the performance?

Final comment: In my recent exchange of comments with Brad Lehman, Brad seems to agree with me that Harnoncourt had a similar scholarly purpose in mind with his Teldec series, but over-exaggerated, overcompensated as he was attempting to make his stand against such 'more Romantic' interpretations as Richter's, etc. As a result his interpretations suffered from his zeal to be more Bachian than Bach himself. His mind took over and predominated in many instances what his heart and a good musical ear would normally have suggested to him, and which, in the final result would have made his cantata performances less of a scholarly task/struggle to listen to, and more of a pleasurable and meaningful listening experience.

Bach Cantatas: The Excellent and the Not So Good

Thierry van Bastelaer wrote (October 2, 2001):
Interesting CD of Bach cantatas released recently by DHM in Europe
Interesting because:
- there aren't too many individual recording of the cantatas on the disc: BWV 9, BWV 94 and BWV 187 (the latter being the source of several movements on the G Minor mass, and therefore a shamefully underappreciated work); - Kuyken chooses the one-singer-on-a-part approach, quite successfully in my view;
- orchestral playing is truly excellent;
- singing is extremely uneven. Stellar contributions by Magdalena Kozena (no surprise here) and the almost tenory-sounding Belgian bass Jan Van der Crabben, correct if rather bland singing by Midori Suzuki, and a truly awful performance by Knut Schoch, whose voice and musicality are a blemish on the whole enterprise. Not only is he painfully stretched in high passages, but it sounds as if he also sings a wrong note in the exposition of the fugue in 187/1. Makes you wonder what goes on in the head of a producer who decides to commit such a sub-par performance to CD.

Any of you can think of such uneven standards in recent Bach recordings? And, by the way, what seems to be the trouble with German baroque tenors these days (Jorg Durmuller almost sabotaged Koopman's cantata vol.8 with the same problems as Mr. Schoch)? Apart from the all-too-rare Pregardien, who are the technically secure and musical German-speaking Bach tenors?

Looking forward to your comments.

Johan van Veen wrote (October 2, 2001):
[To Thierry van Bastelaer] I haven't heard the CD you are referring to, but Knut Schoch also sings in the Brilliant Classics recordings of all Bach's cantatas, and he is most of the time pretty awful there as well. He has a very one-dimensional way of singing and a very limited expression. His performance of recitatives are particularly bad. (He should take some lessons from Kurt Equiluz.) As far as (good) German tenors are concerned, there are not many. Last year in the Utrecht festival Musica antoqua Köln was performing with the tenor Max Ciolek, who has a good technique, but nothing more. One of my favourites is Wilfried Jochens, perhaps not the most pleasant voice as such, but someone with an excellent pronunciation, who sings understandable and with expression. He frequently works with Hermann Max and is also a member of Cantus Cölln.

Sigiswald Kuijken: Short Biography | La Petite Bande
Part 1 | Part 2 | General Discussions
Individual Recordings:
Cantatas BWV 49, BWV 58 & BWV 82 | Cantatas BWV 9, BWV 94 & BWV 187 | BWV 232 - Kuijken | BWV 244 - Kuijken | Final Review: Kuijken Sonatas and Partitas

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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