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Recordings of Bach Cantatas
General Discussions - Part 14: Year 2010

Continue from Part 13: Year 2009

Choral Bach review in Early Music

Uri Golomb wrote (July 13, 2010):
I have recently contributed a record review to Early Music magazine: in it, I discussed two performances of the B-minor Mass (Sigiswald Kuijken and Marc Minkowski); Hermann Max's Christmas Oratorio; Jeffrey Skidmore's St Matthew Passion; a DVD of Motets and Sinfonias conducted by Hans-Christoph Rademann; and Jakob Burzynski's Purification Mass reconstruction. This review-essay will be published in the August 2010 issue, but a version is already available online: Oxford Journals

Uri Golomb wrote (July 13, 2010):
When posting the list below, I didn't realize that it can only be accessed by Oxford Journals subscribers.

Unfortunately, I cannot post my review on another website; if it later becomes possible, I will forward the article for posting on the Bach Cantatas website.

 

OT: Musical Heritage Society

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 11, 2010):
I've looked around for any complete listing of MHS recordings (I mean really old ones, back to the 600 series) online and can't find anything.

Would anyone have a link or know where I could find out some information?

I think my odds are low, but there was a fantastic Telemann recorder sonata on a vinyl album of recorder music and I'd love to get my hands on it again.

Would anyone know if under US law, the Club du Disque recordings are now public domain? They were the mainstay of Nonesuch Records, who licensed them from the original French company, which has been sold several times since the 1960s and is currently owned by Universal Music.

William Hoffman wrote (August 12, 2010):
I believe the recording is MHS 1485, 5 Sonatas for Recorder, Violin & Continuo, according to the 1975 MHS Catalog.

 

Atma/Milnes series

Randy Lane wrote (September 13, 2010):
Since it has been almost 2 years since the last release, I emailed Atma Classique and asked if the Montreal Baroque Bach Cantata series has been dumped. I got a response today saying NO, the series will continue, and urging me to watch the Atma web site for more info. I really have enjoyed every release in this series and would like to see it continue, preferably with more frequent releases. But something tells me economics dictates otherwise for a label I suspect struggles to make ends meet every month. Does anyone have any inside knowledge about the artists or series that might explain the fits and starts this series seems to experience.

Those of us who are at the moment accustomed to auditioning a lot of "new" bach cantata recordings every year are probably due for a huge slow down with the Gardiner series nearing its close. Suzuki still has a few years left to complete the BIS series, and I think the Kuijken OVPP series is about half way through the projected 22 releases. There's been mention/requests elsewhere for more Herreweghe now that the conductor is the director of a label, but the concensus seems to be that there will likely be less Bach and more 19th century music from that source in the future. Are there any other artists known to be picking up the torch and potentially genereating more new recordings?

Robin Kinross wrote (September 13, 2010):
Randy Lane wrote:
< Are there any other artists known to be picking up the torch and potentially genereating more new recordings? >
Well, The Bach Players -- comprising some of the best UK musicians -- has embarked on an informal series that includes cantatas alongside pieces by contemporaries and predecessors of Johann Sebastian: http://www.thebachplayers.org.uk/recordings.html
They play without a conductor, OVPP, and usually single strings too.

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 13, 2010):
[To Randy Lane] Your concern regarding the promised Bach Cantata Series on ATMA Classique seems to me justified. With a rate of about one album a year, it seems that many of us would not be around here to see the completion of this series. See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Milnes.htm

On the other hand we are compensated by many new releases of cantata recordings by first rate ensembles & conductors with excellent soloists.Apart from the three ongoing series (Gardiner, Suzuki & Kuijken), there were many cantata releases during the last year or so.Please notice that many of them are by small or private labels and most of them are OVPP.

Below are some examples. The links are to the conductor/ensemble recording pages on the BCW. These recordings are also presented in the relevant cantata pages, which am trying to keep as updated as possible.

Bach Players (UK):
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Bach-Players.htm

Vladimir Jurowski & LPO&C
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Jurowski-V.htm

Antony Walker & Orchestra of the Antipodes
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Walker.htm

Marcel Ponseele & Il Giardelino
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Ponseele.htm

Michael Hartman & Odeon-Ensemble Munich:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Hartmann-M.htm

Stephen MacLeod & Gli Angeli Geneve
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/MacLeod.htm

Thomas Hengelbrock & Balthasar-Neumann-Chor & Orchester:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Hengelbrock.htm

Martin Haselbock & Musica Angelica:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Haselbock.htm

Francoise Lasserre & Academie Ensemble:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Lasserre.htm

Ricercar Consort:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Ricercar.htm

Rudolf Luts & Musica Seconda Pratica (31 DVD's so far!)
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Lutz-R.htm

Sharon Rosner & Israeli Bach Soloists:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/IBS.htm

Glen Armstrong wrote (September 13, 2010):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks for the latest information, Aryeh. I see from the Hyphen Press site that two CDs by The Bach Players (not exclusively J.S.) are available on "my" continent in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Montreal, as well as various European cities. The 3-minute clip from BWV 61 made it a "must" for me: totally fresh and quite astonishing. Some tid-bits on the CDs are worthwhile, but I'm slightly cheated in not getting a clip from BWV 150: it's BWV 61 again.

Robin Kinross wrote (September 15, 2010):
[To Glen Armstrong] I've just checked this. There is an aria from BWV 150 at: http://www.hyphenpress.co.uk/music/every_one_a_chaconne
and even a different aria on the The Bach Players website at: http://www.thebachplayers.org.uk/recordings.html

I'm not at all objective (as publisher of these CDs and the man who runs the Bach Players website), but I agree that this is very fresh. I don't tire of listening to these recordings, as I do of some of the recent recordings by players and singers working "under" conductors.

 

Bach Cantat

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 4, 2010):
Christoph Dohrmann from Germany sent me the message below off-list..

I saw your great site about Bach cantatas: What we really need is a completely new recording of all the cantatas (of course with period instruments) - using good boys' voices and church organs in the German baroque building style (including some original ones in Thuringia) instead of small chest organs:
Bach loved to accompany the choir with the organ, and especially with reed stops such as the bassoon 16' (which
many organs do not have). I also think it appropriate that the violas and the basso continuo section should sound abit "thicker" and more prominent than in most of today's performances (so more players on the violas and a more prominent 16' foundation). Further performance practice questions which are often disregarded concern the lump-sum shortening of the bass notes in recitatives (which in my view should not ALWAYS be done - for instance many passages, where Jesus is speaking probably fare better with held bass notes), the question when and which and how repeats in sacred cantatas should be somewhat ornamented/varied by the soloist (and possibly also by accompanying solo instrumentalists and continuo players), the question which cantatas seem especially appropriate for a reduction of the number of performers - though a reduction to one to a part à la Rifkin & Co is clearly not advisable for almost all cantatas - and which passages in the choir fare better if the number of singers is reduced (some passages seem to call for a reduced number of singers - this depends on the musical, acustical and textual context).

When we will have such a complete new series of recordings in historically informed performance practice which take these and other issues of performance practice into careful and intelligent consideration (which very often simply does not happen) and which bring out the text with clarity, plasticity and affect, a fresh reception of Bach's cantatas (and hopefully also of his passion oratorios) will hopefully take place.

There is also a great danger that we get used to hearing Bach's sacredmusic performed with great perfection in terms of beauty of sound, intonation and so on (compare especially the recordings by Herreweghe and Suzuki), but not with enough "baroque" affect, energy and "spiritual expression". I think it very important that the cantatas are performed in the right context in church on the appropriate days regularly - maybe we can even foster a new movement towards doing this with period instrument ensembles in Leipzig, Saxonia and Thuinfo@bach-leipzig.deingia (which might be a good basis for the future new recordings series).

I have also long tried to inspire that a new concert hall, especially designed for cantata, oatorio and organ perfomances should be built somewhere in Thuringia or Saxonia: It should not only have especially excellent acoustics, but also two organs in the German baroque style facing each other (a large one mainly designed according to the model of the Hamburg Katharinenkirche, which Bach regarded highly, and a smaller one in the middle German baroque style - perhaps based on models such as Trost in Waltershausen - with some stops which the large one does not have). Such a room would not only be perfect for exemplary performances of the St. Matthew Passion(with two choirs, two orchestras and two organs opposing one another), but also for cantatas, organ recitals and even for church services with sacred music (perhaps the whole thing should be designed as a new kind of protestant church in the first place).

Perhaps you could post this contribution to the BCW mailing list.

Christoph Dohrmann from Germany

P.S.: I think the performing arts in general and early music in particular are much about good judgement, taste and style - we need a solid performance practice basis for that: I. e. a complete online documentation of ALL still extant informations concerning historical performance practice. I am sure that many issues will become much clearer then and that we will have a much better basis for intelligent, tasteful and stylish decisions concerning performance practice(s).

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 4, 2010):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
Christoph Dohrmann wrote:
< What we really need is a completely new recording of all the cantatas (of course with period instruments) - using good boys' voices and church organs in the German baroque building style(including some original ones in Thuringia) instead of small chest organs: Bach loved to accompany the choir with the organ, and especially with reed stops such as the bassoon 16' (which many organs do not have). I also think it appropriate that the violas and the basso continuo section should sound abit "thicker" and more prominent than in mostof today's performances (so more players on the violas and a more prominent 16' foundation). >
HOORAY! Let's hear a real Bach organ in performances!

Areyh, please ask Christoph to join the list. I like his prejudices!

 

BBC Music Magazine Interviews w/ Cantata Cycle Conductors

Vivat205 wrote (November 6, 2010):
The newly-arrived issue has a good article containing interviews with Gardiner, Rilling, Suzuki, and Koopman (but, curiously, not with Harnoncourt) about their experiences recording complete JSB cantata cycles. I was interested in the comment that the Suzuki cycle has been underway for nearly 20 years and is only about halfway done! Given that vol. 47 is just out (mine arrived today), I wonder when we can expect that cycle to be completed?! (Oops-originally posted this to the JSB Recordings Group by mistake- sorry for the duplication for those who belong to both groups).

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (November 6, 2010):
[To Vivat205] I recall that the Suzuki cycle was releasing albums at a pretty slow pace for quite sometime, particularly around 2000, when the classical recording industry was hit with a major slow down of sales world wide. I don't know if the impacted BIS Records, and it could have been purely coincidental. But they have picked up the pace quite a bit and it seems like at least two or three CDs are being released per year now, plus the ensemble does have other projects to work on. Since all of the recordings are done in Tokyo, the production costs have to be
astronomical.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (November 6, 2010):
[To Vivat205] According to a recent email exchange with Robert von Bahr, the head of Bis, around mid-2013. There will be a total of 55 discs for the sacred cantatas.

 

The Hännsler box set

Sys-Ex John wrote (November 16, 2010):
Just to clarify, this is not an advertisement.

Earlier, on the forum, there was a question regarding the reduced price Hännsler box set. 299 Euro here in a misty Deutschland. Yesterday I received my regular mailing from them and thought I would clarify the contents for those interested in purchase.

It is NOT the various separately available box sets with all the printed notes in one big box.

It is one large box set with the 172 CDs each packaged in its own "envelope" with a see through window. (I'm sure you know the type!)

There is a separate CD ROM with the notes, in four languages, on it with a search facility.

There are two booklets, one of 296 pages, the other with 144.

Many years ago I bought a similar set, without the CD ROM unfortunately, and gradually bought proper CD jewel cases for them as I worked my way through. It just had the 144 page booklet, but I was able to acquire the bigger booklet with Hännsler's Bach sampler.

Worth it? Most definitely.

Wish list? The notes CD ROM.

Hope this helps.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (November 16, 2010):
[To Sys-Ex John wrote]:I've reviewed it for MusicWeb, and will post here when the review is published online.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 16, 2010):
[To Kirk McElhearn] Please do. Still looks like about US$400 vs US$100-150 for Brilliant Classics, a significant difference for the budget-constrained.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (November 17, 2010):
My review of the Hänssler Complete Bach set

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2010/Nov10/Bach_complete_Rilling_098620000.htm

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 18, 2010):
[To Kirk McElhearn] I expect there are many folks recent to the BCW discussion lists who can make use of this accurate review for purchasing decisions. Alas, life is never quite as tidy as we might wish it to be.

The standard of comparison for the Hänssler set is the Brilliant Classics Bach Edition, at roughly half the cost. I agree with Kirks conclusion regarding the cantatas, that Rilling (Hänssler) has more pluses than minuses, compared with Leusink (Brilliant), especially in the unsurpassed qaulity of some of the soloists. Arleen Auger and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, just to pick a couple legends. I think it is fair to say that if you have the Leusink set, you will want to at least sample Rilling, which is relatively easy to do via individual CDs. Not necessarily vice-versa: not quite so easy to sample Leusink, and the urge may not be as strong. Nevertheless, it is worth doing, IMO.

Beyond the sacred cantatas, the comparisons are not so clear. There are at least two, perhaps more, issues of the Brilliant edition. If there is interest, I will try to sort this out further. The set which I bought in 2007 is 160 CDs. At present, there is no edition available new at amazon.com. There are two issues listed from secondary sources: a 2006 155 CD edition, and a 2008 (162 CD (?)) edition.

I believe the 2008 edition has the cello suites by Jaap ter Linden, whereas my 160 CD set is by Mark Cohen, not bad, but somewhat dated in comparison, and the basis for my speculation that there are more than two editions.

The organ works (17 CDs) in the 160 CD set are by Hans Fagius on a variety of period Swedish organs. To my ears, they are alone worth the US$100 I spent a few years back. If you do not have either the Hanssler or Brilliant sets, it appears there is a current shopping opportunity. You will not go badly wrong with any of the choices, but you might as well research a bit before spending. Questions happliy entertained.

 

Continue on Part 15: Year 2011

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Last update: ýMarch 13, 2012 ý09:04:35