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Very exciting news

Gabriel Jackson wrote (June 5, 2004):
From the July 'Gramophone': apparently Atma Classique of Canada are starting a 15-year project to record the complete Bach cantatas with Montréal Baroque. The recordings will be OVPP. This is very exciting news, and such a cycle is long overdue in my view. The first release, featuring Suzie Leblanc, Daniel Taylor and Charles Daniels (I wonder who the bass is?) will be of cantatas BWV 7, BWV 30 and BWV 167.

Juozas Rimas wrote (June 6, 2004):
[To Gabriel Jackson] It's nice all cantatas will be available OVPP but what about the level of singers in this project? Do they have anyone near the level of Prégardien or Holton/Larsson?

They could record all choir works of Bach OVPP with a good choir. For solo and orchestral movements they aren't likely to surpass what's been done. But recordings of separate choir movements don't look respectable enough from the point of view of connoisseurs (they would be fine by me, though).

Gabriel Jackson wrote (June 6, 2004):
Juozas Rimas wrote:
"It's nice all cantatas will be available OVPP but what about the level of singers in this project? Do they have anyone near the level of Pregardien or Holton/Larsson?"
Well Charles Daniels is no slouch! And I would prefer Suzie Leblanc to Ruth Holton any day......

Uri Golomb wrote (June 6, 2004):
Gabrieal Jackson wrote:
< From the July 'Gramophone': apparently Atma Classique of Canada are starting a 15-year project to record the complete Bach cantatas with Montréal Baroque. The recordings will be OVPP. This is very exciting news, and such a cycle is long overdue in my view. The first release, featuring Suzie Leblanc, Daniel Taylor and Charles Daniels (I wonder who the bass is?) will be of cantatas BWV 7, BWV 30 and BWV 167. >
But is that really the first release? Atma has already issued at least two CDs of BAch cantatas before, with TAylor's group (see: <http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/TaylorDaniel.htm>). I suppose this is just the first CD which openly purports to be part of a complete cycle.

Juozas Rimas wrote: < It's nice all cantatas will be available OVPP but what about the level of singers in this project? Do they have anyone near the level of Prégardien or Holton/Larsson? >
WEll, I haven't heard any of the aforementioned discs yet -- but the line-up of soloists does seem impressive. In any case, with OVPP, what matters it not just the level of indivdidual singers, but also how well matched they are as an ensemble.

In any case, this is exciting news -- I just hope that it will also lead to exciting performances!

Gabriel Jackson wrote (June 6, 2004):
Uri Golomb wrote:
"But is that really the first release? Atma has already issued at least two CDs of BAch cantatas before, with TAylor's group (see: <http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/TaylorDaniel.htm>). I suppose this is just the first CD which openly purports to be part of a complete cycle."
Yes, that is a bit odd. I can only assume that this is deemed to be a completely seperate project.

"WEll, I haven't heard any of the aforementioned discs yet -- but the line-up of soloists does seem impressive. In any case, with OVPP, what matters it not just the level of indivdidual singers, but also how well matched they are as an ensemble."
I've only heard the Theatre of Music all-Bach disc which is very good in my opinion. In terms of the new project, if Charles is to be a mainstay that is all to the good as he's a very accomplished and experienced consort singer. (As is Suzie Leblanc of course....)

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 6, 2004):
[To Gabriel Jackson]
a. This is indeed very exciting news. After some research, I have found similar announcement at the following page: http://www.sa-cd.net/shownews/19

b. I know that Emmanuel Music has planned recording all the cantatas. So far only two volumes (3 CD's) have appeared. Not OVPP, but highly spirited. I am not updated about the current status of the project.

c. Koopman finished recording them all last October. Within a few years we shall see the completion of their release by Antoine Marchand.

d. Suzuki is progressing...

e. Herreweghe has recorded about 17 CD's of cantatas. Although he has declared that he has no intention to record them all, we all hope he changes his mind.

f. The reissue of Werner cantata recordings (20 CD's) and Grischkat is behind the door.

g. I am aware of another project of the complete cantatas, about which I have to keep my mouth shut for now.

All these news make me wanting to start another cycle of cantata discussions. But we have to wait couple of years (15 ???) before we have the albums at hand for listening...

Gabriel Jackson wrote (June 6, 2004):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
"All these news make me wanting to start another cycle of cantata discussions. But we have to wait couple of years (15 ???) before we have the albums at hand for listening..."
Gramophone also mentions that on their new label, SDG, John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir will release "some music from the Bach pilgrimage" as they put it. Whether this will eventualy encompass all the cantatas not released by Archiv (I believe all the concerts were recorded) and thus give us a complete Gardiner cycle remains to be seen.

Johan van Veen wrote (June 7, 2004):
Juozas Rimas wrote:
"It's nice all cantatas will be available OVPP but what about the level of singers in this project? Do they have anyone near the level of Pregardien or Holton/Larsson?"
Gabriel Jackson wrote: << Well Charles Daniels is no slouch! And I would prefer Suzie Leblanc to Ruth Holton any day......>>
Charles Daniels is one of the very few British singers (IMO) who is able to give really convincing and idiomatic performances of Bach's music. Some years ago I heard him in the SMP (BWV 244), where he was supposed to sing the arias. But when the singer who should act as the Evangelist fell ill, Daniels took over that role as well. It turned out to be a most memorable performance, in fact one of the best interpretations of the part of the Evangelist I have ever heard. His pronunciation and articulation and the differentiation between phrases and words was impeccable.

And I agree as far as Suzie LeBlanc is concerned: she has the clarity of Emma Kirkby, but has a lot more passion and emotion. I tend to think that LeBlanc, Taylor and Daniels will also blend pretty well. Hopefully the bass is going to fit in nicely.

BTW: I assume Montréal Baroque is a HIP ensemble?

Gabriel Jackson wrote (June 7, 2004):
Johan van Veen wrote: "BTW: I assume Montréal Baroque is a HIP ensemble?"
I hadn't thought about that - I think they must be, mustn't they, if they're embracing OVPP?

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 7, 2004):
< From the July 'Gramophone': apparently Atma Classique of Canada are starting a 15-year project to record the complete Bach cantatas with Montréal Baroque. The recordings will be OVPP. >
<< g. I am aware of another project of the complete cantatas, about which I have to keep my mouth shut for now. >>
Whom should I contact in leadership of one or both of these groups, to suggest that they should also use the correct temperament on the continuo keyboard instrument(s)? I have the Chorton/Cammerton problems all figured out, and the solution in hand, using Bach's own temperament (discovered a few months ago); and it works beautifully in this transposing situation (written as a section of my forthcoming paper). So, I'd like to hear it gsome use!

Joost wrote (June 7, 2004):
Montréal Baroque seems to be a new group - surely they will play HIP, as Johan and Gabriel are suggesting already. The idea of a complete set of OVPP Bach cantatas looks very promising. However, last year a similar group of soloists, including Suzie LeBlanc, Daniel Taylor, Ian Honeyman and Stephen Varcoe, together with an instrumental ensemble Theatre of Early Music, recorded BWV 106 and Telemann's "Du aber, Daniel" (ATMA ACD22288). This turned out to be a rather disappointing disc - the singing was quite uninspired, dull, the pronunciations of the German was poor, and the instrumental parts could do with some pepper too.

Let's hope the performers will have learned from this experience.

Brad, you may try and contact these people through the ATMA website: www.atmaclassique.com

Sw Anandgyan wrote (June 7, 2004):
More About the Atma Classique Cantatas Project

It was only two days ago at one of my favourite regular CD shop that a woman was inquiring about the Montréal Baroque and all the clerks were baffled ... so was I, until I got to look at the calendar in the La Scena Musicale and finally got to understand the lady's request.

From the Atma Classique website: http://atmaclassique.com/index.asp?langue=ang

ATMA Classique Unveils its Plan for the release of Bach's Complete Sacred Cantatas on SACD.
A First.
Press release - January 27th, 2004

Cannes, Midem Classical, January 27, 2004. CANADA'S ATMA Classique has unveiled plans to make the first Super Audio CD (SACD) recording of Bach's 200 sacred cantatas. Pierre Dionne, ATMA's marketing director, said there would be three to four releases a year, which means the series will take 15 years. “The recordings will also take account of recent research, which shows that Bach intended the solos and choruses to be performed with one voice per part”, he added.

Soloists will be Suzie LeBlanc, Daniel Taylor, Charles Daniels among others, with musicians from the Montréal Baroque, directed by Eric Milnes. The first volume, on the theme of the feast of St John the Baptist, is due in October.

source: Midem Daily News 3, Tuesday, January 27, 2004

This is from La Scena Musicale website for at least one question answered: http://www.scena.org/index-en.asp

Visitors should try to catch the following concerts. The first, in the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, called "Bach and Baptiste," features Cantatas BWV 30, BWV 7, and BWV 167 with Suzie LeBlanc, Daniel Taylor, Charles Daniels, Stephan Macleod, and the Montréal Baroque Band conducted by Eric Milnes (ATMA plans to record all the cantatas over a 15 year period). "L'Acadie en chanson" features improvisations based on Acadian folklore with Suzie LeBlanc and three musicians (June 20). "Versailles à Louisbourg" offers scenes from French baroque opera with Suzie LeBlanc and Bernard Deletré, presented by the Théâtre Lavallière and Jabot, with the Montréal Baroque Band (conducted by Olivier Brault) and dance group (choreography by Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière) on June 21 at the Chapelle. Two concerts will take place in the Crypte on June 20: the seven Lachrimae of John Dowland with Les Voix Humaines and Sylvain Bergeron (7 am!); and the Messe de Tournai (14th century plain-song) with three male singers under the direction of Pierre Cartier (10:30). No less than four recordings by ATMA will immortalize the event, but as people say, there's nothing like being there! See: www.montrealbaroque.com for detailed information.

Some members are quite on the ball !

P.S. Pardon the extraneous information.

Dale Gedcke wrote (June 7, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
"Whom should I contact in leadership of one or both of these groups, to suggest that they should also use the correct temperament on the continuo keyboard instrument(s)? I have the Chorton/Cammerton problems all figured out, and the solution in hand, using Bach's own temperament (discovered a few months ago); and it works beautifully in this transposing situation (written as a section of my forthcoming paper). So, I'd like to hear it get some use!"
MY QUERY:

Brad, I realize that you are reluctant to reveal the details of your conclusions about Bach's preferred tuning temper until your paper is published. But, when you are ready, please let us know the incompatibility/compatibility that temper has with the ideal (n = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,.......) harmonic series that the Baroque trumpets emulated.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 7, 2004):
[To Dale Gedcke] There are two situations: (1) keyboards and orchestra all playing at Cammerton (for example, Brandenburg 2 with a trumpet reading C but sounding F); (2) keyboards at Chorton, with most of the rest of the orchestra (but the D trumpets) at Cammerton. In both these practical situations, Bach's temperament works out especially well: having the lowest major thirds (i.e. closest to pure overtone intonation) in the same keys the trumpets are playing (from the trumpeter's perspective, reading C major). All the roots, major thirds, and fifths are terrific...those being the main notes that the trumpets contribute anyway. [Maybe I should add a sentence in the paper about this, as it's a good question.]

The trumpet's 2nd (9th) scale degree is also pretty close to the keyboard's, slightly sharp of it: Bach's gives you as good as you're going to get from any practical keyboard temperament, on that note.

When trumpets get up to the raised 4th degree, and the 6th/7th area of the scale, they start to diverge from all keyboard temperaments and there's not much to be done. One can't tune the keyboards and the rest of the orchestra to a just-intonation scheme in the trumpet's home key merely to handle a couple of odd-partial notes in the natural overtone series; as soon as the music modulates, it would all collapse into cacophony. [Just-intonation only works with extremely limited modulation.]

John Pike wrote (June 7, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] I saw a comment in Wolff's biography of Bach recently that quoted one of Bach's students, I think, as saying that "Bach generally liked his thirds sharp". Does this agree with the temperament that you have?

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 7, 2004):
[To John Pike] That's Marpurg (who never studied with Bach) quoting Kirnberger (who did) back at him, during an argument. The dialogue is in the back of the old Bach Reader but not the new one. Yes, all the thirds are [differently] sharp in Bach's temperament: none pure or smaller.

Olle Hedström wrote (June 7, 2004):
[To Gabriel Jackson] I really look forward to listening to the first ATMA-release in October of the omplete Bachcantatas.

What hasn't been mentioned though, is that the upcoming ATMA-releases also will be in the new high resolution format: SACD. That certainly doesn't make it less interesting, does it ?

Have you heard Junghänel's SACD, OVPP-recording of "Actus Tragicus" (BWV 106) on Harmonia Mundi by the way ? Awesome !

 

OVPP Cantata series with Monreal Baroque?

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 11, 2005):
About a year ago, the Canadian label ATMA Classique informed of its plan to record all the Bach sacred cantatas OVPP with Montréal Baroque.
See: http://atmaclassique.com/magazine.asp?dyn=1&id=12&langue=ang
There was also a short discussion in the BCML:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Milnes-Gen.htm

The first volume was scheduled for in October 2004.

Does anybody know what happened?
Not that I am short of cantata recordings. Just curious (-:

Ehud Shiloni wrote (February 11, 2005):
[To Aryeh Oron] Well, I got the first CD [which includes BWV131], listened to it once, and "did not fall off my chair". I'll have to listen again to do it proper justice, but that's my two cents at this point.

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 11, 2005):
[To Ehud Shiloni] Where did you find it?
It is not listed in either Amazom or ATMA Classique...

Ehud Shiloni wrote (February 11, 2005):
[To Aryeh Oron] At MDT: http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product//ACD22279.htm

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 11, 2005):
[To Ehud Shiloni] But although it was also released by ATMA Classique, this is not the first installement in the promised Montréal Baroque series conducted by Eric Milnes. The first album in the series should have Cantatas BWV 7, BWV 30 & BWV 167. BTW, all 3 cantatas are on the first CD in the BCP series conducted by JEG.

The album you have is by Theatre if Early Music, directed by Daniel Taylor. See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/TaylorDaniel.htm [C-3]

So, my question is still open. What happened to the promised series by Montréal Baroque?

Ehud Shiloni wrote (February 11, 2005):
[To Aryeh Oron] Whoops! Too many group names to remember, I guess. Waiting patiently for the new series release.

 

ATMA Cantatas

Eric Bergerud wrote (February 14, 2005):
There was a link to the project developer of the ATMA Classique cantata cycle on their web site. I asked him when they were coming out (in SACD I believe). Here's the reply.
________________

Dear Mr. Bergerud

The first CD of our Bach Cantata cycle will be released in May 2005 and will include St.John The Baptist Cantatas BWV 7-30-167 regards
Pierre

 

ATMA Classique Bach Cantatas released Volume One

emdma wrote (July 16, 2005):
Would just like to announce that ATMA Classique, Montréal, Canada has just released:

Volume I of Complete Bach Cantatas, One Voice per Part, Period Instruments
Super Audio Compact Disc

Montréal Baroque
ERIC MILNES, director

Cantatas for the Feast of St. Michael
BWV 19, 139, 149

Suzie Le Blanc, soprano
Daniel Taylor, alto
Charles Daniels, tenor
Stephan MacLeod, bass

_www.atmaclassique.com_ (http://www.atmaclassique.com)

(http://atmaclassique.com/fr/catalogue/disques.asp?id=ACD22315)

D. Kerr wrote (July 16, 2005):
[To emdma] But the BOY'S VOICE is also a "period instrument''--and an essential part of the "period sound" of the Bach cantatas--as much as an oboe da caccia or a baroque fiddle. Use a female soprano, you might as well use a piano for the continuo part. (The secular cantatas are another matter, perhaps.) Performances that tout period instruments yet still use female sopranos are about the same as starring a boy in TOSCA and claiming THAT to be an "authentic performance"...or whatever...

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (July 16, 2005):
[To D. Kerr] Depends on the woman's voice. If she sounds like something out of Tosca, I'd have to agree. But there are female voices that can produce an appropriate tone quality for Baroque 'period sound'. I prefer to listen to the voice first, and not bother inquiring about the person's plumbing if what I hear sounds appropriate.

Chris Kern wrote (July 16, 2005):
[To D. Kerr] There's no rule, however, that says an HIP or "authentic" performance must be as authentic as possible in every respect. There's nothing wrong with a conductor choosing which elements of an authentic performance he wants to incorporate and which he does not. I can understand the feelings of conductors who do not want to use boy sopranos, although it's nice to have some recordings that do utilize them. I have never actually seen a CD cover or booklet that advertised an "authentic performance" -- they sometimes say that a recording "uses period instruments" or the like, but I've never seen the broad statement.

We know that many Baroque and Classical concerts and performances were done without rehearsals, but nobody considers that an essential part of HIP even though that would significantly alter the results.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: HIP - Part 16 [General Topics]

 

Montreal Baroque SACD Cantatas

Eric Bergerud wrote (September 28, 2006):
I just cobbled together a "home theater" system for a room now free. The equipment is a menage of pretty good gear of last year's technology and thus carrying a heavy discount. (I've never known this technique to fail in the computer realm where I'm more familiar.) So I've got an Onkyo 5.1 receiver with Dolby 5.1, STS, and SACD support among other things. An excellent JBL center speaker is matched with a front pair of small 3 way Radiients (a new US company) and mini-Polks for surround. Because the Radiients have excellent bass I skipped the sub woofer - a wise choice in the event. All of this is attached to the last 20" Sony CRT that will ever be made. I put on Lord of the Rings after a long time of configuration (the only down side of not buying an "all in one" piece of junk from Bose or Sony) and found the "theater" end to be better than I'd imagined. The center speaker, which handles dialogue, alone makes this format a huge improvement for movie watching. The greatly enhanced music and sound effects are gravy.

But, thinks I, I've got a system that fully supports SACD and I don't have any SACDs. I didn't have any idea whether SACD was a real advance or simply an excuse to revive the CD market so I ordered the first volume of the Montréal Baroque cantata cycle which, or so they say, will be complete and SACD. Thought I'd report in.

The Montreal ensemble deliver a very nice version of cantatas BWV 30, BWV 7, and BWV 167. (That's a lot of music on one CD.) The performances are OVPP with a twist. Unless my memory fails me my other OVPP performances replace the counter tenor with a mezzo. Conductor Eric Milnes decided to employ Suzie LaBlanc soprano, Charles Daniels tenor, Stephan MacLeod bass and Daniel Taylor alto. I'm not familiar with the singers but Taylor is outstanding: close to Mera. Milnes approaches these works at a leisurely pace for a period instrument group. All the works are well sung, although I've never heard an OVPP group that so clearly sounds like four people. (This could have been the new hardware.) The instrumentalists did a great job in BWV 7 and seemed to do a fine job all around. This is a very worthy addition to Kantatawelt. However, it does appear that ATMA is concentrating on the North American market: the decent liner notes put French first in every possible place but not a word in German except for the libretto. I've never seen that before except for some very small scale efforts made by local American ensembles.

All I can for sure about SACD is that is does sound different. The number of variables between a system like that and a good two channel set-up are almost beyond counting. (The new speakers, for instance, are not "broken in" - quite a contrast to my vintage Advents that hold the fort in my home office. They were made broken in and are twenty years old to boot.) There are two issues here: SACD and surround sound. In either case the music is coming at you from five speakers distributed throughout the room instead of two. SACD boosters, however, also claim a number of technical advantages that should lead to a warmer, clearer sound - vinyl on steroids without scratches and erratic tone arms. Well, the surround is no joke. Theis a very audible spaciousness about the performance and it does sound as though you're in front row. (I have the surrounds on the side, not behind. If I did, it might sound a bit as though one was inside the band - except the singers are always in front of you.) It was possible to toggle the SACD encoder on and off: when off you had, in essence, surround 2 channel stereo. I also played part of McCreesh's SMP (BWV 244) (a standard Stereo CD) simply because it's so well engineered with SACD enabled. There was a difference: the SACD seemed a little richer and warmer. But I was told it was supposed to - so it's hard to say. (The SACD people claim their hardware also enhances standard stereo, although I don't really follow the reasoning.) The difference is great enough that it made it difficult to compare the Montreal CD on my 2 channel and multi-channel systems. But are we considering the format or the acoustics and speakers? (I also picked up symphonies 4/5 of the very highly regarded Minnesota/Vanska series engineered by SACD pioneer BIS. This was pure Minnesota chauvinism because the last thing I need is more Beethoven. And I still prefer Gardiner. But for a modern performance, the critics are right - this is a terrific rendition that reminds me of the Szell/Solti school of "American Symphony Machines" except more intimate and far better recorded. Ironically the surround sound impact was less pronounced than in the cantatas although certainly there.)

The home theater idea gets a definite thumbs up unless you really don't care at all about movies. If nothing else music most music DVDs are done in some kind of Dolby. I watched the first couple of movements from Gardiner's XO and it looked and sounded terrific. But if one is interested in the idea but fuzzy on the specifics, don't go near a dealer without doing some research. There's some very bad equipment out there, and not all of it is cheap. (I almost choked when a Bose salesman tried to convince me that a $900 set of mini speakers sounded great. It was nice to listen to a pair of 901s they had there - the good old days.) SACD will remain a minor factor for me. I have a zillion CDs and have not the will or money to even think of replacing them. That said, some wonderful CDs are coming out in that format (almost all can be played on standard CD players) - I noticed Suzuki's last volume is SACD. There are lots of them on Berkshire. So there may not be much to lose and perhaps something real to be gained if considering the factor when choosing future works.

Julian Mincham wrote (September 28, 2006):
[To Eric Bergerud] Thanks for the report. I guess you will be listening to recordings of Great Aircraft Battles from WW2 in complete surround sound next??

Eric Bergerud wrote (September 28, 2006):
[To Julian Mincham] The newsreel based films wouldn't be up to it. But come to think of it, I've never seen Hells Angels on DVD - there's a digital Dolby mono version that's been out for years. Worst plot ever put to film but special effects that are astounding - obviously made in the era before lawyers (1929). There was a rumor that a scene of a collision was real and that Hughes left it in because it was so spectacular. He denied it of course, but there's very little modeling used and this scene (less than a second) is spectacular, although not as neat as the Handley Page Bomber (best they could do to imitate a Gotha) going down in a spin, or Hughes blowing up half of southern California to show the Hun ammo dump going up. Sweet. But let's face it, most air combat movies have been dogs. (12 O Clock High and Dawn Patrol are both almost all set at base.) I've heard the new Fly Boys has good special effects but not much more. Naval movies have worked much better. (Of course there's that scene at the end of Empire of the Sun where Mustang jabos demolish the Japanese air base - that's up there with Private Ryan.)

But it's a neat toy ok. I've seen these things of course, but not a good one in such ideal conditions. The distinction you get between the overall sound, which is very loud in normal movies, and the extremely clear dialog from the center channel really is very theater like and does make one wonder why spend we $20 per person to go to a film.

And the Montreal guys were pretty good - if you like countertenors.

 

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