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General Discussions - Part 18: Year 2014

Continue from Part 17: Year 2013

Recording recommendations for alto cantatas?

Anthony Kozar wrote (February 24, 2014):
I would like to solicit some opinions on good recordings of the solo alto cantatas. I currently have the Leusink set with countertenor Sytse Buwalda singing all of the alto solos, and recently obtained Marianne Beate Kielland singing BWV 35.

I am looking for recordings with a lyrical (non-dramatic), female voice. (While I enjoy countertenors singing Medieval or Renaissance music, I have yet to hear one singing Bach that doesn't sound "forced" at times). As an example, I find Ingeborg Danz's work with Herreweghe pretty satisfying though her voice is a touch on the dramatic side. I like the quality of Marianne Beate Kielland's voice and may pick up the rest of her Bach recordings but I feel like there could be better performances out there. I've sampled a number of albums on Amazon but so far haven't found anything that really satisfies.

I would prefer period instruments, but that is not a requirement. Also, of course, it would be nice to find all of BWV 35, 54, 169, 170, 200 (maybe even 53?) recorded by the same artist and on only a couple of albums.

Too much to ask for?

Please share your recommendations.


Stephen Benson wrote (February 24, 2014):
[To Anthony Kozar] Bernarda Fink — BWV 35, 169, and 170 on Harmonia Mundi.

Randy Lane wrote (February 24, 2014):
[To Anthony Kozar] Recommend you get volume 6 of the Gardiner SDG set. In addition to BWV035 you get some other cantatas with examplary alto parts, most notably BWV033, which I think has the most moving solo music Bach composed for alto (Wie furchstam wankten meine Schritte) sung by Nathalie Stutzman.

Anthony Kozar wrote (February 25, 2014):
[To Randy Lane & Stephen Benson] Thank you very much, Randy and Steve!

I had already started reading reviews of the Bernarda Fink album and I am interested in that one. I need to listen to some more samples from it.

I will check out the Gardiner too. (Generally like his work but not familiar with Nathalie Stutzman's voice yet ...)

Thanks again,

David Jones wrote (February 25, 2014):
[To Anthony Kozar] I know you don't like countertenors, but Bach would come back and hit me over the head with his wig if I didn't recommend Andreas Scholl. Stunningly pure, beautiful, natural alto tone..........

Thomass Vasary wrote (February 25, 2014):
David Jones wrote:
< I know you don't like countertenors, but Bach would come back and hit me over the head with his wig if I didn't recommend Andreas Scholl. Stunningly pure, beautiful, *natural* alto tone.......... >
I wish there were some recordings of these cantatas by boy altos. Their vocal timbre is really unique and much more “natural”, in my opinon; they have a significant advantage over most falsettists: besides having better dynamic, their vowels are much more distinct. When I listen to boy altos such as Stefan Rampf, Panito Iconomou or Christian Günther, I don’t have to read the booklet. With most falsettists, I do, including Andreas Scholl — who, that being said, is by far not the worst in this regard: Paul Esswood was barely understandable. It is true that they are few good boy altos: rather a woman or a falsettist than a bad or average boy alto. However, had I been Bach, I would not have hesitated for a second between a good boy alto and a countertenor. (Panito Iconomou in the Johannes-Passion) (Stefan Rampf in the first cantata from Weihnachtsoratorium — the tempo is a bit too slow, I think, but that is Harnoncourt’s choice)

I know of only one recording by a boy alto of the first aria from cantata “Vergnügte Ruh’, beliebte Seelenlust”, sung by the Spanish boy alto Francisco Javier Rodríguez Braojos… and, well, this recording is disappointing. Nice timbre, but a lack of technique and a terrible German pronunciation! What a pity that Panito Iconomou did not record it with Nikolaus Harnoncourt!

Anthony Kozar wrote (February 28, 2014):
[To David Jones] Thanks David. I am not categorically opposed to countertenors singing Bach.

I did listen to samples of Scholl with Herreweghe (and some other countertenors) a couple of years ago and rejected those recordings. But I listened to Scholl again and couldn't immediately tell why I had previously thought it was bad, i.e. sounded promising this time.

I will try to find some longer samples to listen to. Also planning to sample the Robin Blaze recording with Suzuki if I can.

Thanks again to all for the suggestions!

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 28, 2014):
BWV 170 Discography & Recording recommendations for alto cantatas?

I have finished updating the discography pages of Cantata BWV 170:
Complete (or near complete) Recordings (58):
Recordings of Individual Movements (25):
The discography pages include both official and unofficial recordings as well as many recordings available only on YouTube.I have added listening/watching options to every recording of this cantata I have found on YouTube.

Anthony Kozar asked:

"I am looking for recordings with a lyrical (non-dramatic), female voice.(While I enjoy countertenors singing Medieval or Renaissance music,"
Of the mezzo-sopranos, who have recording albums of solo cantatas for alto, I highly recommend:
- Monika Groop with Kangas [25]
- Marianne Beate Kielland with Muller-Bruhl [34]

Anthony Kozar wrote (February 24, 2014):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks very much for your recommendations, Aryeh! I will check out both of those recordings as well (or again).

Your comprehensive discographies for the alto cantatas have been extremely helpful to me in my search. In general, your site has been simply invaluable to me in the process of researching Bach works, recordings, and performers (especially in finding the rare recordings of incomplete or apocryphal works). I have also used it extensively while retagging my MP3 tracks with more comprehensive information. It is wonderful to be able to find the title, scoring, chorale melody, etc. of every movement in one place!! I have even gone so far as to write an Applescript that allows me to select a track in iTunes and automatically open the corresponding page on the BCW

Thank you so much!!!


All of Bach project

Anthony Kozar wrote (May 7, 2014):
I haven't seen the "All of Bach" project mentioned here yet. The Netherlands Bach Society has launched an ambitious project to record (with video) all of Bach's works and make the recordings available online.

I've watched Cantata BWV 61 and one of the WTC P&F and the quality seems to be quite high. Participants include familiar artists from the Dutch early music scene.

What exactly they intend to record seems a little uncertain to me as the site says "At the moment, The Netherlands Bach Society has re-recorded 6 of the 1080 works by Bach. A new number will be added each week ... Keep up to date with the next 1074 numbers." Of course, 1080 is the number of works in the original BWV catalog but with the numbers now extending to about 1128 and quite a few works considered inauthentic, having a "countdown" of 1080 works seems confusing. *shrug*

Regardless, this is an exciting project and I am looking forward to the results (for the next 20 years @ 1/wk ?).

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 7, 2014):
[To Anthony Kozar] I'd rather see "" :-)

Jane Newble wrote (May 7, 2014):
[To Anthony Kozar] Thank you so much for mentioning that!
I had not heard about it, and shall also look forward to the next twenty years...;o)Jane

Paul Beckman wrote (May 7, 2014):
[To Anthony Kozar] What a greaconcept - maybe they'll speed up the process to finish in our lifetime.

I listened to "Ich Habe Genung" - Pretty decent instrumental playing, especially the lower strings, and the bass handles his part well. The three negatives: The oboist has some significant intonation problems at times; the bass' singing and the video are not well-synchronized (at least on my computer); the Director/harpsichordist expresses some rather extreme affectation, and is often the camera person's focus.

Still, looking forward to the next couple of decades after signing up for their e-mail alerts.

William Hoffman wrote (May 7, 2014):
Bach Stiftung also is recording all the vocal works taking some 20 years. Works so far recorded can be found at BCW Discography, such as Cantata 59, current discussion, Rudolf Lutz conductor, liner notes,[BWV59].pdf; BCW Recording details, with YouTube video. Enjoy.

William Hoffman wrote (May 7, 2014):
The YouTube video only has Movements 1, 4, & 5 (BWV 6/6)


Bach-Stiftung Documentary

Evan Cortens wrote (October 31, 2014):
Since videos seem to be the topic of the day, I thought you all might find the following short documentary interesting:

It's a fascinating look inside the production process of the J. S. Bach-Stiftung videos and recordings.

Julian Mincham wrote (November 2, 2014):
[To Evan Cortens] Thanks Evan

I knew of the project but had not seen this particular insight. I see that there is quite a bit more from them on you- tube, although mostly not with Englsih sub titles.

I guess we must all hope to live until the project is finished!!


Continue on Part 19: Year 2015

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Last update: ýDecember 27, 2015 ý22:46:46