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Masaaki Suzuki & Bach Collegium Japan
Cantatas Vol. 13
Cantatas BWV 64, BWV 25, BWV 69a, BWV 77, BWV 50

C-13

J.S. Bach: Cantatas Vol. 13 - Cantatas from Leipzig 1723 - BWV 25, 50, 64, 69a, 77

 
 

Cantatas BWV 25 [15:23], BWV 50 [3:32], BWV 64 [17:24], BWV 69a [17:56], BWV 77 [14:53]

Masaaki Suzuki

Bach Collegium Japan & Concerto Palatino Brass Ensemble (BWV 64, BWV 25)

Sopranos: Yukari Nonoshita, Yoshie Hida; Counter-tenor: Robin Blaze; Alto: Kirsten Sollek-Avella; Tenors: Gerd Türk, Makoto Sakurada; Bass: Peter Kooy

BIS 1041

Jun, Oct 1999

CD / TT: 70:58

Recorded at the Kobe Shoin Women's University Chapel, Japan.
See: Cantatas Vol. 13 - conducted by Masaaki Suzuki
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The GAME - Suzuki

Piotr Jaworski wrote (October 18, 2000):
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< Back to our regularly scheduled programs… >
Exactly. My CD dealer wrote to me few minutes ago that the 13th volume of cantatas by Suzuki and BCJ will be available here from ... TOMORROW! I'll immediately spend my last penny on it, and let you all know about.

John Downes wrote (October 18, 2000): 12:00
[To Piotr Jaworski] Where is 'here'?? My dealer doesn't seem able to procure it in the UK yet.

Xavier Otazu wrote (October 18, 2000):
[To John Downes] I think 'where' means Poland.

Piotr Jaworski wrote (October 18, 2000):
(To Xavier Otazu) And more precisely Warsaw, Poland. However the said dealer operates in another nice city - Poznan. Shall we be among the first ones??? No wonder why - we had the same ruling dynasty with Swedes - Vasas ;-)

 

Suzuki Vol. 13

Marten Breuer wrote (October 18, 2000):
Great news from Sweden! Here's the latest news from BIS:

"J.S. Bach - Cantatas Vol. 13. EAN 7318590010419

J.S. Bach: Cantata No. 64, "Sehet, welch eine Liebe hat uns der Vater erzeiget" BWV 64; Cantata No. 25, "Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe", BWV 25; Cantata No. 69a, "Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele", BWV 69a; Cantata No. 77, "Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben", BWV 77; Cantata No. 50, "Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft", BWV 50 (fragment).

Bach Collegium Japan directed by Masaaki Suzuki; Yukari Nonoshita, soprano (BWV 64, BWV 25); Yoshie Hida, soprano (BWV 69a, BWV 77); Robin Blaze, alto (BWV 64); Kirsten Sollek-Avella, alto (BWV 69a, BWV 77); Gerd Türk, tenor (BWV 25); Makoto Sakurada, tenor (BWV 69a, BWV 77); Peter Kooij, bass (BWV 64, BWV 25, BWV 69a, BWV 77); Concerto Palatino Brass Ensemble (BWV 64, BWV 25).

Collectors now eagerly await each new Cantata release from Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan. This thirteenth volume is particularly interesting in that it features cantatas that are very rarely heard."

Piotr Jaworski wrote (October 31, 2000):
Dear Friendly & Peacefull Bach (and Suzuki) Admirers,

On the - theoretically - Bach Recordings list, the Vol.13 of the Suzuki Cantatas project had been announced. Since the list drifted a bit too far from it's major topic, I'd like to share my fresh - first-time-listening enthusiasm ... somewhere else. I have it. And I listen to it right now - while writing this. It's terrific recording! It's unbelievably beautiful music. I can't recall any of those cantatas from other recordings I have - but I only have all Herreweghe, Rifkin and Suzuki recordings. And I' m still at work... ;-)

There should be no surprise of my affection - I've checked Simon Crouch rating - my favourite cantatas on the disc - BWV 64 and BWV 25 a rated with "1".

What I particularly like is the participation of members of the Concerto Palatino (in the above BWV 64 & BWV 25).

I believe that after November 1 (All Saints) there will be some more lucky ones to discuss the said recording.

 

Suzuki's Bach Cantata Series, Volume 13

Donald Satz wrote (December 4, 2000):
For me, the best reason for a complete Bach Cantata cycle is the opportunity to own and enjoy Bach's rarely performed and recorded sacred choral works. With Volume 13, Suzuki gives us an entire disc of the infrequently recorded cantatas. The contents are BWV 64, BWV 25, BWV 69a, BWV 77, and BWV 50 which is a fragment. I am using Koopman's series on Erato for each comparison, with Andrew Parrott on EMI added for the BWV 50 fragment. The catalog number of Suzuki's new disc is 1041.

BWV 64, BWV 25, BWV 69a, and BWV 77 were written in 1723 during Bach's first year in Leipzig as Cantor of St. Thomas. Starting with BWV 64, this cantata was composed for the 3rd day of Christmas, and the first two movements correspond in text to the Christmas season. Matters change greatly thereafter as the text concerns giving up the fleeting rewards of the world for God and heaven. The vocal soloists in BWV 64 are soprano Yukari Nonoshita, alto Robin Blaze, and bass Peter Kooy.

BWV 64
BWV 64 opens with a powerful chorus. There's nothing joyous about it either. Its pervasive quality is a current of concern and distress - not bleak music, but far from festive. Suzuki gives the slower performance, and it's very powerful and inevitable; he has matters tightly controlled and is even elegant compared to Koopman. For his part, Koopman is wild in the sense that the distress is causing panic and it is escalating as the movement progresses. This is a hard choice to make. It's like choosing between a classic woman of elegance and a wild woman with danger on her mind; I'll take both. They are each great performances.

A short chorale, a recitative for alto, and another short chorale follow. The first chorale is stately with a subtle majesty, the recitative begins the theme of rejection of this world, and without pause, the second chorale enters with a heroism of irresistable proportion. This chorale is magical in impact. Both Suzuki and Koopman are superb, but Suzu's Robin Blaze can not match the blend of beauty and depth in the voice of Koopman's Bogna Bartosz; I have heard Bartosz with Koopman before and consider her a major discovery.

The next movement is a soprano aria, and Koopman has the incomparable Dorothea Roschmann. However, various factors combine to lessen the quality of the performance. This aria has strong uplifting qualities, and Koopman is rather slow and heavy. Add in Roschmann's very deep voice, and the result is a reading which never takes flight. Switch to Suzuki and we get a finely paced reading of quicker tempo with Nonoshita providing a young and innocent allure which has excellent lift to it. Her voice is definitely not as good as Roschmann's, but her match with Suzuki's interpretation is perfect.

A bass recitative, alto aria, and chorale conclude the cantata. Aside from preferring Klaus Mertens to Peter Kooij, both versions are equally outstanding. The aria has a great bounce to it, and both conductors well convey it. I was very impressed with Robin Blaze who, this time, is the equal of Bogna Bartosz and that's a high compliment. The chorale gives the final kiss-off to the significance of this world with the best line in the cantata - "Fare thee well, thou empty shell".

BWV 64 is wonderful music, and both Suzuki and Koopman are very rewarding. I have to go with Suzuki primarily because of the soprano aria. He and Nonoshita are outstanding; Koopman drags the aria down.

BWV 25
BWV 25 was written in August 1723. It begins in darkness and ends in light. Mankind is darkness; Jesus and Heaven are the light. Suzuki's vocal soloists are Nonoshita, Kooij, and tenor Gerd Türk.

The opening chorus, a double fugue, gets to the dark heart of the matter - " There is no health in my body because of your threats and there is no peace in my bones because of my sins". The music has a seamless and inexorable quality with subtle intensity provided by the brass that's a joy to listen to. Suzuki's tempo is a little slower than Koopman's, and it pays dividends; the inexorable effect is appreciably stronger.

Three continuo movements follow in the form of a tenor recitative, bass aria, and soprano recitative. The tenor gives us a litany of terrible results of living in the world, but in a relatively mild manner. The text begins with a knock-out punch, at least in the Suzuki translation - "The whole world is but a hospital". I love that phrase. Gerd Türk is the tenor in both versions; his voice is richer with Suzuki, but just as effective with Koopman. The music in the bass aria starts to display some lifting of the human spirit as the Bass questions where he will find salvation, then answers his own question, "Jesus". I prefer Koopman in this aria; the continuo playing has more impact and Klaus Mertens has a more positive attitude than Peter Kooij. The soprano offers her soul and mind to Jesus in her recitative.

Next is a soprano aria with the phrase "I will sing with the angels". It's a very uplifting aria in text and music. Looking for an angel? Nonoshita is a fine candidate; as in her aria in BWV 64, she sings like an angel with beautifully blended support from Suzuki. They are simply on the same wavelength, and I'm there with them. Koopman's Lisa Larsson has a technically better voice than Nonoshita, but it isn't an angel's and her connection with Koopman isn't strong.

The concluding Chorale is a tribute to God, both in mortal life and thereafter. Koopman and Suzuki are excellent in paying tribute.

Once again I prefer the Suzuki performance, and as in BWV 64, the clincher is the soprano aria. The combination of an uplifiting aria, Suzuki, and Nonoshita is something Koopman can not equal.

Given all the fine comments I've been making about Nonoshita and Suzuki, I regretfully have to report that she's replaced in the last two cantatas by Yoshie Hida who, based on the photographs, is younger than Nonoshita. I do hope she does as well.

BWV 69a
BWV 69a was also composed in August 1723 and has the routine themes involving tribute to God; frankly, I find the text rather boring and shopworn. The music is another story. The opening Chorus is highly celebratory and rousing, but Koopman is demure at times probably to provide greater contrast. Although very enjoyable, I prefer Suzuki's greater consistency of celebration.

Next is a soprano recitative and tenor aria. Hida, who replaces Nonoshita, sings fairly well but is much less attractive than Koopman's Ruth Ziesak. The tenor aria is joyous music which Koopman's Paul Agnew conveys excellently with a very attractive voice. Suzuki's Makoto Sakurada is quite a let-down after Agnew - tonal beauty is lower as is joyous expression.

A relatively long alto recitative precedes the bass aria. The recitative is a lovely one with fine singing by Suzuki's Kirsten Sollek-Avella. Koopman's Elisabeth Von Magnus is rather dour in comparison. I listened to Koopman's bass aria first and found it quite heavy, although Klaus Mertens performs excellently. Suzuki has a quicker pace and better bounce, but Kooij doesn't have Merten's voice.

The last movement, a Chorale, expresses the satisfaction of giving oneself completely to God and does so beautifully. As usual, both Suzuki and Koopman provide outstanding choral work. I have to rate the two performances of BWV 69a fairly equal in quality, and I did miss Yukari Nonoshita.

BWV 77
BWV 77 is another August 1723 cantata. It deals with the difficulties and rewards of completly giving onself to God. The opening chorus is joyous and robust music of intensity. As usual with the choruses, Suzuki is slower than Koopman to good advantage. Koopman sounds rushed in comparison to Suzuki's noble reading.

Koopman's Klaus Mertens is excellent in the bass aria, and Koopman and Dorothea Roschmann are very poignant and lovely in the soprano aria. Suzuki and Yoshie Hida provide those same qualities and add an uplifting and outgoing element which is largely absent from Koopman's interpretation.

Next is a tenor recitative and an aria for alto. I can't muster up much enthusiasm for Suzuki's tenor Makoto Sakurada, but Suzuki himself provides a rich and beautiful ending to the recitative. The aria is lovely and sad because the Alto knows she has "imperfections" and inabilities which may make her unworthy of God's love. Suzuki's Kirsten Sollek-Avella displays great tenderness and an envious degree of sadness; Suzuki interprets wonderfully. Koopman's recitative has the advantage of Jorg Durmuller who is in much better voice than Sakurada. In the aria, Koopman is much quicker than Suzuki, and that's not good.There's little sadness in the interpretation, and I don't think it gets to the heart of the Alto's feelings. Elisabeth von Magnus sings very well, but it's an uphill struggle with Koopman's interpretation.

The concluding Chorale is masterful music which flows richly. I prefer the greater weight Koopman applies, but Suzuki's version isn't far behind. Overall, I prefer Suzuki in BWV 77, and it's largely due to his much better performances of the two arias.

BWV 50
The BWV 50 choral fragment might have been written in Bach's first year at Leipzig. This is powerful and exhilarating music with a text telling us that this is the time for fruition of all we have hoped and sacrificed for. Suzuki and Koopman are both very good. Andrew Parrott employs the one-voice-per-part approach to good effect; power is lower but depth of emotion is greater.

Conclusion

Suzuki's Volume 13 is one of his best to date. His chorus is excellent, orchestral support is very enjoyable, and the solo vocal work is better than in any previous issue in the cycle. Most important, Suzuhas a great grasp of Bach's music, and he excels in the arias. I do want to emphasize that my rather consistent preference for Suzuki over Koopman just applies to the recordings reviewed in this posting.

Don's Conclusion: Collectors of the Suzuki series should be very pleased with Volume 13 and consider it an essential acquisition. For others, the disc represents a great way to become familiar with outstanding music which is infrequently recorded.

Piotr Jaworski wrote (December 4, 2000):
Donald Satz wrote:
< (snip - long, splendid and thorough review!)
Suzuki's Volume 13 is one of his best to date. His chorus is excellent, orchestral support is very enjoyable, and the solo vocal work is better than in any previous issue in the cycle. Most important, Suzuki has a great grasp of Bach's music, and he excels in the arias. I do want to emphasize that my rather consistent preference for Suzuki over Koopman just applies to the recordings reviewed in this posting.
Don's Conclusion: Collectors of the Suzuki series should be very pleased with Volume 13 and consider it an essential acquisition. For others, the disc represents a great way to become familiar with outstanding music which is infrequently recorded. >
Great job! I share and support all your conclusions. Suzuki circle is still too small on this list. While trying to make my final list for Kirk - I was thorn apart between vols. 12 and 13. We are quite lucky, that MS did not record in the passing year more volumes than two!

And one more thing - I still miss absence of Ryan Michero on this list - his frequent reviews were as much well documented as inspired. I'm really happy, that Ryan's informal post went into such good hands.

Thanks and keep this ongoing, please,

Marten Breuer wrote (December 4, 2000):
Piotr Jaworski wrote:
< Suzuki circle is still too small on this list. >
I just wanted to let you know that the Suzuki circle consists of more than two people. Many thanks to Don who wrote an excellent review. I don't possess Vol.13 yet, but what you wrote sounded very promising.

As for the soloists, I hope that Gerd Türk will continue to cooperate with Suzuki although he is now teaching at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and, as he told me, will have less time for trips to Japan. My second hope is that maybe Suzuki will make a recording of solo cantatas for alto with Andreas Scholl. When you look at the BCJ's homepage (http://www.bach.co.jp), you will find that on 20 December, Scholl will give a concert in Japan - so maybe they are going to record the whole?!

Lastly: If anybody of you is interested in a live-record of this year's concert by BCJ in Leipzig containing BWV 201 and BWV 206, just let me know, I could send you a copy!

Matthew Westphal wrote (December 4, 2000):
Marten wrote:
< Lastly: If anybody of you is interested in a live-record of this year's concert by BCJ in Leipzig containing
BWV 201 and BWV 206, just let me know, I could send you a copy! >
Sounds interesting! What are the details? (Soloists, etc.)

Marten Breuer wrote (December 4, 2000):
[To Matthew Westphal] The concert was part of the Bachfest Leipzig 2000 and I happened to record the radio broadcast on cassette. In BWV 201, the soloists are as follows:
Momus: Midori Suzuki, soprano
Mercurius: Robin Blaze, Counter-tenor
Tmolus: James Gilchrist, tenor
Midas: Gerd Türk, tenor
Phoebus: Chiyuki Urano, bass
Pan: Victor Torres, bass.

In BWV 206, the soloists are:
Pleisse: Yuraki Nonoshita, soprano
Donau: Mutsumi Hatano, alto
Elbe: Gerd Türk, tenor
Weichsel: Victor Torres, bass.

Piotr Jaworski wrote (December 4, 2000):
[To Marten Breuer] No!??? Really??? And you're 100% serious? Do you see my both hands up? Put me on the list, please, ... we will see how big the circle really is. What do you need Marten as a "sweet revenge"???

 

Masaaki Suzuki: Short Biography | Bach Collegoim Japan
Recordings of Vocal Works:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Recordings of Instrumental Works
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
Cantatas:
Suzuki - Vol. 2 | Suzuki - Vol. 5 | Suzuki - Vol. 8 | Suzuki - Vol. 9 | Suzuki - Vol. 10 | Suzuki - Vol. 11 | Suzuki - Vol. 12 | Suzuki - Vol. 13 | Suzuki - Vol. 14 | Suzuki - Vol. 15 | Suzuki - Vol. 16 | Suzuki - Vol. 17 | Suzuki - Vol. 18 | Suzuki - Vol. 19 | Suzuki - Vol. 20 | Suzuki - Vol. 21 | Suzuki - Vol. 22 | Suzuki - Vol. 23 | Suzuki - Vol. 24 | Suzuki - Vol. 25 | Suzuki - Vol. 26 | Suzuki - Vol.. 27 | Suzuki - Vol. 28 | Suzuki - Vol. 29 | Suzuki - Vol. 30 | Suzuki - Vol. 31 | Suzuki - Vol. 38 | Suzuki Secular - Vol. 1
Other Vocal Works:
BWV 232 - M. Suzuki | BWV 243 - M. Suzuki | BWV 244 - M. Suzuki | BWV 245 - M. Suzuki | BWV 248 - M. Suzuki
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Bach’s Clavier-Ubung III from Masaaki Suzuki | Bach Harpsichord Discs from Hill and Suzuki | Bach’s French Suites from Suzuki | Review: Partitas by Suzuki [McElhearn] | Suzuki’s Partitas [Henderson] | Suzuki’s Goldberg Variations
Discussions of Instrumental Recordings:
Partitas BWV 825-830 - played by M. Suzuki
Table of recordings by BWV Number

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