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Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Recommended Cantatas
General Discussions - Part 19: Year 2015

Continue from Part 18: Year 2014

Recorded and filmed Bach Cantata Series by J.S. Bach-Stiftung St. Gallen

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 17, 2015):
The J.S. Bach-Stiftung St. Gallen (J.S. Bach Foundation of St Gallen) in Switzerland has embarked on a remarkable undertaking: over a period of some 25 years, the Foundation will perform the complete vocal works by J.S. Bach.
Each month, one of the over 200 Bach cantatas is performed in the idyllic town of Trogen in Appenzell, Switzerland. Only one cantata is performed per concert – but, for that, it is played twice. To present the work in its context, each cantata is performed according to its place in the church calendar. Between the two cantata performances, a notable speaker from the sphere of culture, economics or politics gives a reflection lecture on the cantata’s libretto and music. This lends a new perspective the second hearing of the work. In addition, there are complementary workshops.
With a rhythm of 12 cantatas per year, the project, which began in October 2006, is estimated to conclude in the year 2030.
The main aim of the J.S. Bach Foundation's ambitious project is to provide a living Bach experience for today's listeners and to deepen our understanding of the great composer's works. The artistic director of the foundation is Rudolf Lutz, who rehearses and conducts all performances with the choir, orchestra and solo vocalists. All concerts are performed on period instruments. The size of the vocal ensemble performing the choral movements ranges from 4 (OVPP) to 16.
All introductory workshops, concerts and reflection lectures are released on DVD. The cantatas are also released on CD. The texts of the lectures are published in a continually expanding Bach Anthology. So far 74 DVD's (74 Cantatas) and 14 CD's (42 Cantatas) have been released.
The discography pages on the BCW of this excellent recorded and filmed cantata series have recently been revised and updated. See:
DVD's 2006-2011:
DVD's 2012-2014:
All the relevant cantata pages have also been updated accordingly. The entries in the cantata pages include both the DVD and CD releases and the concert programme notes. In many cases there are also watching options to selections from the filmed performances.


Fritz Lehmann Bach Cantata Discography

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 25, 2015):
Fritz Lehmann (1904-1956) was one of the pioneers in the world of recorded Bach Cantatas. In the early 1950's he recorded 10 cantatas with his choir Berliner Motettenchor and the Berliner Philharmoniker. Those recordings were first issued in Germany by Archiv Produktion, then in the UK by the sister label Archive Production. In the USA the recordings were published by American Decca in different couplings from the original German LP's.
Fritz Lehmann's career was cut short by his early death at the age of 51. He left us this small but important legacy of recorded Bach Cantatas. The recordings, which were done before the HIP era, are well conducted and performed.

13 years ago, I wrote in the BCML about Lehmann and another conductor from the same period, Hans Grischkat (1903-1977): "These two German recorded a substantial amount of Bach’s vocal music, however most of it has never been issued in CD form. Based on what I had the opportunity of hearing, I can say that their approach can be defined as romantic. That means using of big forces (choir and orchestra), expanded length and preference for legato lines rather than rhythmic approach. Although not in line with the modern approach of the HIP school, which prefers quicker tempi and dancing rhythm, I believe that the legacy of both conductors deserve re-issue in CD form. Not only as a respect and honour for conductors who were among the first to record the Bach Cantatas, but also in order to give us another angle to look at the cantatas. The modern interpretations have too many similarities, and sometimes I have the impression that the contemporary conductors try to imitate each other, or at least to follow the same route. We are in need of variety of approaches to enrich our listening. If we have a different one already recorded, why not making it available to the public? Furthermore, both conductors used first-rate vocal soloists, as the soprano Agnes Giebel (Grischkat) and the tenor Helmut Krebs (Lehmann). We have learnt from many cantata discussions that quite often singers from the past outclass many contemporary singers in terms of expression and vocal quality."

Only a few of the recordings have been issued in CD form over the years. However, in recent years most of them have become available for download by labels as Discover Classical Music and Classical Moments and most recently by BNF Collection (the latter in higher resolution than MP3).

The discography page of Fritz Lehmann on the BCW has recently been revised and updated. The page now presents all the known issues of his Bach Cantatas in LP, CD and Music Download formats. See:

All the relevant cantata pages have also been updated accordingly. The entries in the cantata pages present all the releases of the work in the same place.


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Last update: ýDecember 27, 2015 ý22:40:29