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Craig Smith & Emmanuel Music w/ Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson (Mezzo-soprano)
Cantatas BWV 82 & BWV 199

C-3

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson - Bach Cantatas BWV 82 and 199

 

Cantatas BWV 82 [23:48], BWV 199 [26:46]

Craig Smith

Orchestra of Emmanuel Music

Mezzo-Soprano: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson; Oboe d'amore: Peggy Pearson

Nonesuch 79692

May 13-16, 2002

CD / TT: 50:34

Recorded at Emmanuel Church, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
See: Craig Smith & Emmanuel Music w/ Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson (Mezzo-soprano) - Cantatas BWV 82 & BWV 199
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Hunt Lieberson and Smith in cantatas 82 & 199

Bradley Lehman
wrote (January 5, 2004):
This weekend I've been listening to the new issue of cantatas BWV 82 and BWV 199 sung by Lorraine Hunt (now known as Lorraine Hunt Lieberson). I feel it's a terrific performance, and have any others here heard it yet? Reactions to it?

The players, on modern instruments, are the Orchestra of Emmanuel Music [Boston] conducted by Craig Smith. According to the booklet, Hunt used to be a player in that orchestra before she switched to a singing career. And the conductor has led all of Bach's extant cantatas on the appropriate liturgical dates, for morning services.

This pair of cantatas was recorded in May 2002. And Hunt has been the protagonist in Peter Sellars' staged productions of these two cantatas, co-commissioned by several arts agencies (this too is all documented in the booklet, including a description of the staging).

And as I notice in listening to the performance, all this background and preparation come through clearly in the commitment to the work. It is obvious that the singer, conductor, and players have thought closely about the expressive and dramatic content of every musical figure, as they bring it out clearly. That is, they sing and play the Affekt from their close analysis of the work, rather than merely going through notes and rhythms accurately and hoping that everything will magically emerge. [Not that other outstanding musicians do that, either; but I know there is expectation from some members here that such a restricted approach of merely following instructions is all that is required to perform music well.]

The expressive choices all come from an understanding of the music's content and a willingness to bring it out intensely: while not imposing anything arbitrary from outside. The musicians allow the music to remake them in its image; the performers themselves become transparent, drawing no attention away from the music but letting the music's progress shape everything they do, from each moment to the next. This approach, in my opinion, is "gestural" performance at its best, and the marvelous results here are obvious.

And the emotional content here comes through directly, even though (in a recording) there's nothing to see directly, just as people in Bach's churches often could not see the performers. The progression of the drama has to be in the sound: the message and emotions of the text conveyed through inflections, phrasing, timing, and differentiation... all that variety integrated into a compelling and intense unity. At the same time there is a natural-sounding forward flow, so it's not just a series of disconnected moments. The musicians here have captured this difficult balance beautifully.

BWV 82 is one of my favorite cantatas. I have at least half a dozen other recordings of it and wouldn't want to be without any of them. But this performance has induced me to notice many details in the music I hadn't before, despite "knowing" this piece for about 25 years.

Some of my favorite moments, although there are too many to list: (1) the change of character in the da capo of "Schlummert ein," like a resignation that it really is time to die, sounding very different from the first time around (minutes earlier). (2) The intense shifts of emotion during both recitatives, as the text does. (3) The way Hunt switches from head voice to chest voice for the single word "Tod" in the final aria: really letting the word "death" sound dead and otherworldly. (4) The firm and expressive approach by the continuo players in the middle section of "Schlummert ein", helping to convey a message of hope. (5) Individual words, all over the place, inflected with an "italicization" within phrases/sentences as if the singer were speaking a message, not only singing it...while it's still the tone production of singing, not merely pitched speech. (6) Tasteful pauses at various places from the players and singer, wherever it suits the meaning of the text: an expressive use of silence. (7) The beautifully flexible oboe d'amore playing by Peggy Pearson. (8) At "Der Abschied ist gemacht" in the second recitative, the phrasing of the continuo players brings out the connection from the previous aria: the vocal line "Fallet sanft und selig zu." That is, that melody has moved over to the bass as the character exits this life. (9) Subtle ornaments of pitch by the singer.

Speaking of the pitch: overall, it startled me a little bit at first.

After all, cantata BWV 82 is usually sung by a bass, not a mezzo-soprano; and the pitch level itself is up a bit, plus of course the singer's transposition of an octave. They're still using the familiar C-minor version (not Bach's later transposition to E minor), but tuned higher than A=440 (while period-instrument ensembles nowadays usually give us something closer to A=415). Factoring all that together, the music comes out here about a whole step above the pitch where it's familiar from other recordings.

The CD number is Nonesuch 79692.
http://www.nonesuch.com/Lo_Band/albums.cfm?album_num=532

Any other reactions from people here who have listened to the whole performance? (Not merely arguments against my descriptions here, or reactions to internet samples, please! It is important to hear the work directly, which really is the only valid way to criticize anything responsibly.)

Bob Henderson wrote (January 5, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Yes I love the performance and gave the disc as a Christmas present this year. Yes very different. An air of Divine resignation. Quite beautiful. Different from Fisher-Diskau, Hotter, Shirley - Quirk (whose performance I like as well).

See the Profile on Hunt-Lieberson in this week's New Yorker magazine.

Robert Sherman wrote (January 6, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Interesting review, Brad. Can you post a few of your favorite snips?

My reaction to Hunt Lieberson's Messiah (1991 with McGegan) was that her musical insights were excellent but her vocal technique had serious deficiencies. If she's now got her voice up to where her mind was twelve years ago, that would be worth buying.

Arjen van Gijssel wrote (January 6, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] If you only ask for reactions of people who listened to the whole CD, then I don't expect many replies. I listened to the internet samples and, for what it's worth, let me say that I liked the approach taken. It is warm, and taken from the Affekte, which is something I prefer. I don't think Hunt has a superb voice though, and I wonder whether the entire CD isn't too warm and smooth, more romantic than baroque (= "letting the magic occur by playing the notes", whith some gestural approach but not too much).

By the way, you're at your best in these kinds of e-mails, Brad. Much better than the unfruitful crusades of last weeks.

Richard Sams wrote (January 6, 2004):
Thank you very much for this recommendation. I bought and listened to this CD today. Hunt's performances of the arias "Schlummert ein" and "Tief gebuckt" are superb. The timbre of her voice and powerful expressiveness remind me of Janet Baker.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 6, 2004):
Thanks Arjen. My point of recommending a listen to the whole thing was to preserve the integrity of the whole performance: the way that (in my opinion) any serious piece of work makes most sense, as its whole context. Small sampare nice, and certainly better than nothing, but the straightforward effect of the performance decisions, and the apparent reason guiding those decisions, only makes full sense in the hearing of a complete performance. (Just like the way it's important to read all of a book or article to see for oneself what it says, instead of relying on anybody's excerpts or secondhand interpretation.)

Those musical figures, and the emotional content of them made clear in the performance, are put together by the composer (and the performers!) to be heard in a first-note-to-last flow: it does them a bit of disservice to leap around or pick only someone's ideas of highlights.

Anyway, from your remarks below I'd like to draw out one phrase that especially caught my attention, and offer another perspective on it:
>>more romantic than baroque (= "letting the magic occur by playing the notes", whith some gestural approach but not too much).<<
I question that (implied) notion that gestural expressivity is anything "romantic" but not "baroque," and the stated notion that there can ever be too much.

Start from Monteverdi's seconda prattica in the first decade of the 17th century. What was it about? What was it replacing? What was its salient feature? What was all the hubbub about, that it was so different and new?

In the prima prattica (music that sounds like Josquin's and Palestrina's, basically) musical form, voice-leading, smoothness, and musical balance were the master principles. Structure, and rationality; and any contrast coming mainly from the juxtaposition of very large blocks. The words to be sung were filled in wherever they fit the music; or some of the voice parts could even be omitted and replaced by instruments, as long as somebody on at least one other part was getting the words across. The music didn't exist to try to illustrate the sense of the words at any close level of examination; Affekt was just an overall and fairly consistent organization of an entire movement, a generalized nod to the words' meaning, at most.

The seconda prattica flipped that on its head. Now the words were paramount: their meaning from phrase to phrase, even syllable to syllable sometimes, received highly specific music designed to bring out every little nuance of local meaning. The focus was on directness, intensity, over-the-top and straight-to-the-soul expression of the words, shifting from moment to moment in character as the words do, illustrating and amplifying the meaning of the text. That technique of musical composition evolved as specific ways to illustrate specific classes of emotions. That's what these madrigal and opera composers, following Monteverdi's examples, were up to: split-second changes of the music's mood, register, articulation, tempo, etc etc to illustrate closely a meaning that came from an extramusical idea. That is the essence of "baroque" as can be traced forward through the seventeenth century and into the eighteenth: that intense art of extremes and contrasts, and music designed to evoke specific types of emotion, springing (originally) from the setting of sung texts.

Bach's music--especially in the cantatas--is a culmination of that seconda prattica, and it uses those same 17th century techniques: those which are now (most unfortunately!) dismissed as merely "romantic"....

Where did the cooler view of "baroque" come from, anyway, the notion that correct baroque performance is merely an approach of going through the notes phlegmatically and in notated rhythm, with minimal dynamic or other expressive contrast, with an emphasis on consistency instead of momentary variety? That is: letting those musical/rhetorical figures in the music express themselves, supposedly, with meaning emerging magically if the listener pays enough attention and knows what they're supposed to mean, like a secret code? And, a squelching of everything "romantic"?

Most notably it comes from several prominent musicians early in the 20th century: Stravinsky and Hindemith! In their reactions to what they saw as an overdone and over-emotional approach to music (that of the late 19th century, the sentimentalism of Wagner et al), they aimed to strip that all away in favor of something more "classically" balanced, and focusing on tight and compact form, instead of so directly on an emotional content that could go anywhere (and, at its most insidious, could be used for any corrupt purpose: hitting people at their emotions to circumvent the use of
their thinking brains). [We shouldn't just blame artists here; there were shattering world events, totalitarian coups in many prominent countries, etc etc!...emotions running very high, and powerful people using those waves to take things in some questionable directions to reorganize society....] Emotions and sentiment became villains, not to be trusted, and not to be cultivated or celebrated in art.

And in doing so, these musicians and those around them claimed "baroque" music (principally Bach's and Vivaldi's) in their own new image, their new ideal, their "neo-baroque" and "neoclassical" emphasis on form...essentially a return to some of those ideals from the prima prattica 250 years before themselves. It was a swing of a historical pendulum against the trust of emotions; and "baroque" music got swept along as if it had always been there on that side of cool emotions and motoric rhythms and form-over-content.

And we're still dealing with that: the "looking-forward" view of the baroque where it grew out of early 17th century emphases on intense and moment-to-moment expression; vs the "backward-looking" view of the baroque through the models of Stravinsky and other early 20th century intellectuals, those with a basic distrust of emotions as valid.

The music can work either way, giving people the enrichment or enjoyment they seek. But I suggest it's overall more appropriate (if we wish to take the work seriously on its own merit!) to approach the music in the same way it was generated, with clocks and calendars moving forward, from the cultural milieus where it flourished.

And I would urge caution with the term "romantic": that it not be simply an epithet, applied as a prelude to dismissing all emotion as invalid.

No, the 17th and early 18th century were not the same as the late 19th, of course not. An "extravagance" of emotion in one and an "extravagance" of emotion in the other are not exactly the same thing, except in the observation that both were extreme and intense, and both were based on expression of ideas and words outside music. The commonality was the use of musical techniques to intensify ideas, a willingness to let the music follow external ideas, even where those ideas might distort its own formal balance or shatter it completely. The commonality here was that seconda prattica pendulum swing.

The early 20th century folks, eager to commandeer some of the 17th and 18th century formal structures for their own use, set it up as if the 17th and 18th continued to belong to a prima prattica, as if Monteverdi and his successors had made no big splash. (The use of music primarily to fill out a formal structure, complete without reference to any external ideas, and certainly not subservient to any moment-to-moment shifts of meaning.)

=====

Obviously, my presentation of this here is in broad strokes and generalizations, a quick sweep of history. But, I urge anyone interested here: don't take my word for it. Go research the prima prattica and seconda prattica and trace the latter forward through the 17th and early 18th centuries, to see all this in action. And research the way such aesthetic views changed through the later 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries: and the eagerness to claim a body of outstanding work (most notably, Bach's) to suit one's own preferences, instead of taking it forward in its historical and cultural context, seeing where it came from.

=====

Getting back to the "warm and smooth" surface of this Hunt/Smith performance of BWV 82: I agree, it does tend toward that side more than I would prefer to hear, ideally. The performance could be craggier, with more of thfearful and resistant emotions in play as well: after all, this is Simeon contemplating his own impending death, and being human he's not completely willing to let go of life yet despite what he says. The music is an illustration of turmoil in his emotions, and designed (like a musical sermon) to put the listener into that same turmoil of emotions: sympathetic and empathetic with the character Simeon as he works it out. That's why the musical figures and cross-references and starts and stops and contrasts are in there: to take us along with his journey, identifying ourselves as listeners into "what would I do if I were Simeon going through that? what is my salvation and hope?! would it be enough for me just to see the newborn Jesus and then die?"

But then again, short and mostly pleasant excerpts on the internet do not do justice to a straight-through performance. Over the course of 25 minutes it does play out with an emotionally-contrasted trip that--I feel personally as a listener--is satisfying. The performance compelled me to confront the words and their meaning in ways I had not noticed before, and is that not after all the point of the music's existence?

I mentioned yesterday that this recorded performance is very strong anyway without any visuals. But it is based on a staged production, by Peter Sellars. Does anyone here know if there is a DVD or video of that available, so we can also see Hunt Lieberson in this role as Simeon, yet another layer of the emotional turmoil that is this cantata? According to the booklet note here, Sellars staged this with the character in a hospital gown, medical tubes emerging from an exhausted body.

(And along that line, for a powerful film, I recommend "Wit" written by and starring Emma Thompson. In that one, the character fights valiantly against a terminal illness, and fights to keep her emotional composure until the last moments, and fights against the insensitivity of people around her...one of those spirit/body struggles of the human condition...really shattering to watch.)
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0243664/

Arjen van Gijssel wrote (January 6, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Thanks for your very interesting historical exposé. I agree that ultimately you should listen to the entire recording, in order to come up with a funded opinion and, of course, do justice to the performers.

Btw, I didn't use the word romantic in order to dismiss the Hunt recording. Let me try to explain what I mean by that word. I have a recording of some Bach aria's by DFK (BWV13/BWV 157/BWV 73 etc; EMI classics), which I call romantic. I do not want to dismiss emotions in performing Bach's work (how could one, singing the SMP for instance). But when hearing someone singing a Bach cantata as it were Schubert's Lieder (DFK), or an opening choir as if it is Brahm's Requiem (often Rilling), adds to my sympathy for the more cooler view on baroque.

I was not aware that that makes me a pupil of Stravinsky, but I like the idea.

We have had rehearsals where we sang in one evening both Brahms and Bach, and that is always difficult. If you start with Brahms (for instance ein Deutsches Requiem), the conductor often asks us to give more, to sing with more powerfull voice, to give more emotion, more vibrato. If we then sing Bach, he wants us to be more refined, more carefull on the melisma's, without any vibrato etc. It is difficult to express (in English) what I mean by the difference between romantic and baroque, but it requires quite a different approach in actual singing.

Neil Halliday wrote (January 7, 2004):
[To Robert Sherman] You can probably get some idea of her voice from this snip:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000AOVTI/

Yes, this is a "gestural' performance, also tasteful and musical - but then the opening of the first aria, with its 'picture' of lakeside reeds swaying in the breeze, responds well to this treatment.

I'm not sure how gestural Richter's 1968 version is - he does pay careful attention to phrasing - but it's even more arresting in some aspects, such as the clear cantabile of the viola and second violin parts, producing music of breathtaking beauty.

Uri Golomb wrote (January 9, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote: < This weekend I've been listening to the new issue of cantatas BWV 82 and BWV 199 sung by Lorraine Hunt (now known as Lorraine Hunt Lieberson). I feel it's a terrific performance, and have any others here heard it yet? Reactions to it?
The players, on modern instruments, are the Orchestra of Emmanuel Music [Boston] conducted by Craig Smith. >
I have not yet heard this recording, but I did attend a concert in which the same team performed these two cantatas. At the time, I wrote a lengthy review of it, for my own record and for some friends and colleagues. In response to Brad's question above, I sent that review to Aryeh, who now posted it on his site. You can read it on: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Sellars[Golomb].htm

Johan van Veen wrote (January 9, 2004):
[To Uri Golomb] Many thanks for referring to your review. My impression of the recording of BWV 82 & BWV 199 is in many ways the same as your view of the live performance, although I am more negative about the aria 'Schlummert ein' from BWV 82. And your remarks about the viola solo in BWV BWV 199,6. I can't believe how a musician can play this without any shaping of the phrases. 'Musik als Klangrede' is very far away there.

I hope to read your review of the CD as soon as you have heard it.

As far as the staging is concerned, you rightly point out where Sellars' views contradict those of Bach and how he (mis)uses Bach's music to spread his own message.

The same happened in a staged production of Handel's Messiah in the festival in Utrecht some years ago (not by Sellars, BTW).


BWV 199 - Lorraine Hunt Lieberson/Craig Smith

Glenn S. Burke wrote (June 29, 2004):
John Pike asked about the recording of Lorraine Hunt performing BWV 199 "Mein herze schwimmt in Blut." This is in reference to the Craig Smith/Emmanuel Music recording which also includes BWV 82 "Ich habe genug" Nonesuch 79692. Since there is only passing reference to this recording on the website (it was recorded in 2002 and is copyright 2003), and since I recently got a copy, I'll give a mini-review, but I'll qualify that: I'm not a musician, and this is the only recording of either of those cantatas that I own. (Unlike SMP where I have four or five on CD, and some unknown number on LPs packed away - I got hooked on that over 30 years ago when I performed in it as a choirboy.) I'm also going to concentrate on BWV 199 now.

For some background, the discussions on these cantatas, which include comparative reviews of many other recordings, can be found at:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV82-D.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV199-D.htm

One can also find biographic material on Lorraine Hunt, Craig Smith, and Emmanuel Music on the website.

These cantatas, with I assume essentially the same performers, were subject to the (infamous to some) staging of Peter Sellars. (This recording is not a live performance, although it was recorded at Emmanuel Church.) Several years ago I attended a dress rehearsal before the staged versions had ever been publicly performed; I never saw the completed stage version. Without knowing German, with no prior knowledge of the cantatas, no program notes and no explanation from the director, I can't make any comments about that. However, Uri Golomb attended a performance whit toured, and wrote a description: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Sellars%5BGolomb%5D.htm
Embedded in it are some comments on the musical performance, although it's primarily about staging and interpretation.

The performing force consists of oboe d'amore (Peggy Pearson), bassoon, 4 first violins, 3 second violins, 2 violas, cello, bass, and organ.

In the recitives, the continuo notes are held for their full values, with the sole exception of the recitative forming the B section of the da capo aria and recitative in mvt 2.

I'm familiar with Lorraine Hunt's voice mainly from the period of the mid 1980s to mid 1990s, when I was a much more avid concertgoer, and she (I think) primarily performed locally, but also from a few Handel opera recordings. Her voice is warm and expressive, and can if needed fill a large hall. She has a very slight huskiness or raspiness which might disturb some people; it's barely evident on this recording. (I was exposed to it live once at an unstaged Handel opera, and was positioned rather close and in direct line; I also believe she had a cold then, so that bordered on the unpleasant. Nothing like that happens here.)

Overall I think this is a very good recording and performance. The orchestra is present and mildly expressive, giving over the leads to the solo voices and instruments (oboe d'amore, and in chorale mvt 6 "Ich, dein betrübtes Kind" viola obligato).

Here's some comments of mine based on things people said in the BWV 199 discussion:

Uri Golomb said iin his article on the Sellars staging:
< The over-reticent, wholly untheatrical playing of the Emmanuel Music Orchestra under Craig Smith didn't really help matters. Oboist Peggy Pearson shaped her crucial obbligato part with great sensitivity, but the strings were kept to the back, avoiding any grand gestures. Sellars described the viola obbligato in the chorale-aria as "psychedelic". I think he was wildly exaggerating, but I wish violist Betty Hauck had taken his word for it: maybe then her playing would not have been so dull and uninflected. The general lack of charisma from the orchestra made Hunt's theatrical singing seem even more extravagant; perhaps she would have convinced me more if there wasn't so much discrepancy between her style and that of her accompanists. >
There is something to this but I don't think it was that extreme on the recording. At first listening the viola sounded truly mechanical; a second time through and getting rid of some background noice here, it didn't seem nearly as bad, although it still could use some livening-up. (The viola player here is not credited, but is probably Betty Hauck who Uri names above, as she's listed as one of the viola players.)

Andrew Oliver wrote (September 8, 2000):
< Roy mentioned the importance of restraining the tempo of the fourth movement. This is one of the reasons why I did not like Nancy Argenta's performance (10) as much as the singers on my other two recordings, though I suppose it is more Monica Huggett's fault than hers. Nancy Argenta sings it in 7'01, Ruth Holton (14) interprets it in 9'00, and the unsurpassed Elly Ameling (3) lives it for 9'19. >

On this recording that track is 8:59.

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 26 2001):
< She must have a mature and flexible voice, variety of technical means, and ability to convey different kinds of feelings. This cantata is so demanding that it expose every fault the singer might have. >
I think Lorraine Hunt qualifies here. (IMHO.)

----

BWV 82

No review from me for now, but a couple comments.

The liner notes say that having been scored in C minor for solo bass, Bach brought it back in E minor for soprano, then for alto in C minor. I skimmed a vocal/piano score off the site (written for bass) and the range is G - e'-flat, which - if the vocal transposition for alto is just to raise the voice an octave, might be a bit low for a mezzo. I only listened to the first chord, and I'm absolute-pitch impaired, but I do believe it was D minor. This is complicated because of the obbligato oboe is replaced by flute in the soprano version...

Something Brad Lehman mentioned in the BWV 82 discussion indicated he owned or had at least listened to this CD; perhaps I'll ask him off list if he really isn't reading this.

Uri Golomb wrote (June 29, 2004):
Glen Burke introduced the following quote from my review of a concert by Lorraine Hunt and Emmanuel Music (staged by Peter Sellars), followed by his own comment on the recording by the same artists:
< Uri Golomb said iin his article on the Sellars staging:
<< The over-reticent, wholly untheatrical playing of the Emmanuel Music Orchestra under Craig Smith didn't really help matters. Oboist Peggy Pearson shaped her crucial obbligato part with great sensitivity, but the strings were kept to the back, avoiding any grand gestures. Sellars described the viola obbligato in the chorale-aria as "psychedelic". I think he was wildly exaggerating, but I wish violist Betty Hauck had taken his word for it: maybe then her playing would not have been so dull and uninflected. The general lack of charisma from the orchestra made Hunt's theatrical singing seem even more extravagant; perhaps she would have convinced me more if there wasn't so much discrepancy between her style and that of her accompanists. >>
< There is something to this but I don't think it was that extreme on the recording. At first listening the viola sounded truly mechanical; a second time through and getting rid of some background noice here, it didn't seem nearly as bad, although it still could use some livening-up. (The viola player here is not credited, but is probably Betty Hauck who Uri names above, as she's listed as one of the viola players.) >
I should note that, since my review was of a concert performance, I did not have the luxury of listening "a second time through" -- I was forced (as any concert reviewer is) to rely on first impressions only. It's quite possible that, if I had a chance to listen again, I would have modified my conclusions and criticisms. Or perhaps the playing on the recording really is freer than in the concert I attended. When I get to hear that recording myself, I'll report my impressions. (Generally, when writing on a recording, I try to hear it at least twice before reporting my views on it).

I usually prefer what Brad has called "gestural performance"; when writing my impressions of the viola-obbligato playing in that aria, I was probably comparing it with the playing of Alice Harnoncourt in Nikolaus Harnoncourt's recording of the cantata with soprano Barbara Bonney (still my favourite overall recording of this cantata). I can imagine some listeners finding the Harnoncourts' performance over-detailed, even manneristic; and such listeners might well prefer performances that I would consider dull.

Glenn S. Burke wrote (June 29, 2004):
[To Uri Golomb] I was not trying to discount your evaluation. One of the reasons I included your quote was that your first impression was relatively congruent with mine - just stronger. I was being lazy due to my limited compositional abilities: one of the other first impressions I had was that the orchestra was too much "in the background, conservative," which I think is not inconsistent with what you said. I guess you could say that I felt my first impressions validated when I went back and read your review before sending my email. But my own opinion - not having heard the performance you did under the circumstances you did, just as you haven't had a chance to sit back and listen to the recording - is that that alone would scare people off from the recording.

I admit to having a kind of "home team bias" here. I also admit that Emmanuel, possibly too used to being heard by the same audience most the time, might be complacent about being "gestural" or taking chances. I don't know; in spirit I support them, but in practice I see very few of their own concerts. But since they perform a cantata nearly every week(and I understand there are people who attend the church service just for the cantata) in addition to their other presentations. and I don't know how much they tour, I don't know that answer.

I'll cut this off now and send a brief bio so you and others know where I'm coming from.


Hunt-Lieberson doing BWV 82 & 199 "preview" in Boston

Glenn S. Burke wrote (April 6, 2005):
Aryeh: this is not in the concert listing.

The Sellars staging, of course.

"What, AGAIN?" I hear you say? Did I mis-remember something about someone in Europe having seen this there already?

Anyway, this is a "preview" performance prior to New York & European performances. Patron tickets are available, about which, I quote from: http://www.emmanuelmusic.org/

"Patron tickets for this special Boston Preview prior to European and New York engagements are $200 each, $115 of which is tax deductible. Patrons will receive choice seats in the Theatre, will be listed in the Concert Program, and are invited to attend a reception with the artists directly following the performance across the street in the Bill Bordy Theater at the Union Savings Bank Building. For patron tickets, please call 617-824-8000."

For other reservations, call TeleCharge at 800-233-3123 or go to: http://www.maj.org

Thursday, June 2, 8 pm.

If anyone is thinking of going, let me know. I'm probably not going to attend, but - who knows? I only saw the staged version at dress rehearsal before the first public performance. 7? 8? years ago?


Craig Smith: Short Biography | Emmanuel Music | Recordings | General Discussions | Craig Smith & Emmanuel Music w/ Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson (Mezzo-soprano) – Cantatas BWV 82 & BWV 199

Lorraine Hunt: Short Biography | Craig Smith & Emmanuel Music w/ Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson (Mezzo-soprano) – Cantatas BWV 82 & BWV 199 | Article: Sellars Staging [Uri Golomb]

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Last update: ưApril 9, 2005 ư11:54:41