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Masaaki Suzuki & Bach Collegium Japan
Cantatas Vol. 26
Cantatas BWV 180, BWV 127, BWV 96


J.S. Bach: Cantatas Vol. 26 - Cantatas from Leipzig 1724 - BWV 96, 122, 180


Cantatas BWV 96 [17:14], BWV 122 [13:19], BWV 180 [21:18]

Masaaki Suzuki

Bach Collegium Japan

Soprano: Yukari Nonoshita; Counter-tenor: Timothy Kenworthy-Brown; Tenor: Makoto Sakurada; Bass: Peter Kooy

BIS 1401

Jun 7-10, 2003

CD / TT: 52:57

Recorded at the Kobe Shoin Women's University Chapel, Japan.
See: Cantatas Vol. 26 - conducted by Masaaki Suzuki
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Suzuki Vol. 26: A write-up.

Michael Telles wrote (January 29, 2005):
I've been listening quite a bit to Volume 26 of Masaaki Suzuki's series, just released this past Tuesday, January 25th. I thought I would give it a quick write-up:

On this disc, the relatively austere BWV 122, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, is bookended by two cantatas dominated by wind instruments and which are gentle and often danceable. All were written by Bach as part of the incomplete chorale cantata year and adopt lines and melodies from popular hymns. As for Suzuki's treatment of the material, this is one more example of the fantastic success of the series: the ensemble has an amazing ability to convincingly strike any tone required: intimate, full of grandeur, spare, what have you. Part of this is thanks to the impressive recording by BIS which somehow fills up sonic space with a warm bass, clear but not searing treble (a problem many have with period instrument ensembles) and a blending of sound that manages to retain transparency. Some argue that Suzuki's approach is too precious or that the performances come off as too well-scrubbed and cold. I've never understood this argument: if the first few bars of his BWV 180, with the swelling sustained notes of the recorders and dancing bass line, doesn't strike you as pure, concentrated joy, then check for a pulse.

The disc opens with those proud, gorgeous bars: the recorders holding a tonic pedal as the bass traces a descending line that might remind the listener of the air from Overture # 3. After the first few bars of melody, Bach begins to break up the straightforward melodic structure, introducing competing lines in the chorus and orchestra, returning to the principal melody several times. As the chorus moves from a relative symmetry to a complex of shifting and competing lines, it would be easy to muddy this up, but thanks to the transparency and concentration of the BCJ, it all comes off beautifully.

Other highlights:
Yukari Nonoshita and Makoto Sakurada continue to knock me out. Nonoshita does a lovely job with Lebens Sonne, Licht der Sinnen . . ., with its odd meter, and also with the Recitative & Choral of BWV 180, which mid-way through begins to skip along with a pulsing bass line and also features, according to Suzuki, the debut of the Violoncello piccolo in the series. Mr. Sakurada has such a rare combination of qualities: he can land so precisely on notes but has a relaxed agility in his voice that is so pleasant to listen to. He really shines in the aria to BWV 96, singing to the accompaniment of the transverse flute. Peter Kooij is at his usual greatness, although there aren't many moments in these cantatas that frame his abilities as well as in the past; no fault of his. Timothy Kenworthy-Brown makes his debut in the series as Alto, yet he only appears in two arias; his is the only voice that made me think twice. It might be me, but he sounds a little flat at points, or perhaps it's a little strain.

In terms of emotional tone, the disc as a whole, if one is to listen straight through, shifts quite a bit: the upbeat BWV 180 dips into the austerity and even severity of BWV 122, returns to some dancing rhythms with the chorus to BWV 96 and its rapid-fire piccolo (albeit with a more reserved tone compared to BWV 180s chorus), becomes increasingly contemplative and, after an almost mournful bass aria, ends on a peaceful note. Strangely, the libretto to BWV 96, which is hopeful and celebratory, seems at odds with the tone of the music throughout.

If not essential, I would say this rates as one of Suzuki's best, and these are some great cantatas. If you're interested in buying, I ordered mine directly through Qualiton imports as I don't think it's listed anywhere yet, and Qualiton delivered so quickly that I think the disc was on my doorstep before I finished placing the order.

Bob Henderson wrote (January 30, 2005):
[To Michael Telles] Thanks for the fine review. As a rabid Suzuki follower I read with appreciation. And thanks for the tip on Qualiton. I have found it takes forever to get these recordings in the states and I have been ordering from the UK.

Eric Bergerud wrote (January 30, 2005):

[To Bob Henderson] Thankee here too for the tip on Qualiton - had'nt heard of them. Great selection, but $6 for shipping is a little steep. But, no reason to sweat the small stuff if they have what you need.

Thomas Shepherd wrote (January 30, 2005):
[To Bob Henderson] And in the UK we will have to wait patiently! MDT for instance are taking "pre-orders" at this time.

Thanks for the review Michael.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 30, 2005):
Qualiton, and Allegro

[To Eric Bergerud] Yup, Qualiton is good.

Another distributor that I raid regularly for mail-order imports (and often with some remarkably low prices, especially in their overstock area) is Allegro:

Their "surplus" bin is:


Masaaki Suzuki & Bach Collegium Japan Volume 26 (Timothy Kenworthy Brown)

Steven Russell wrote (August 7, 2005):
Although I am recent member of this group, I have read this wonderful site for some time. Volume 26 of the Collegium Japan recordings is a welcome addition. I am however, concerned at some thoughts aired about the alto Timothy Kenworthy Brown (now Timothy Travers Brown).

Prof Brown is an alto. He has upper notes but is not a mezzo. To report that some of his notes are out of tune or strained is a opinion I would like to question. Previous fine altos in this series have has arias to sing so that the listener has become accustomed to the vocal qualities and interpretative choices made by the singer. Mr Brown has very little other than recit. The lyric is delivered in a way that gives meaning to the text, and this is something that many 'period' performers reserve for the opera. I have listened to the alto recordings on this disc many times to try and understand the above mentioned stammerings. I would like to say that for me, Mr Brown's participation in this recording is extremely welcome. He does not sound sterile, and nor should he. When I read a translation of the German text and listen to his interpretation, I am convinced he knows what he is singing. I am apleased to hear an alto, whose sound tells you his gender from the outset. This is relatively unusual in alto recordings of late ( I am very much a fan of the Daniels/Metha school also). I think that Mr Brown should be given more chance to be heard, in some of the more robust alto works fro him to be fully and rightly appreciated.


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
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:
Bachís Clavier-Ubung III from Masaaki Suzuki | Bach Harpsichord Discs from Hill and Suzuki | Bachís French Suites from Suzuki | Review: Partitas by Suzuki [McElhearn] | Suzukiís Partitas [Henderson] | Suzukiís Goldberg Variations
Discussions of Instrumental Recordings:
Partitas BWV 825-830 - played by M. Suzuki
Table of recordings by BWV Number

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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