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  • Bach - Cantatas Nos. 54, 56 and 82
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Bach - Cantatas Nos. 54, 56 and 82

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
  • Conductor: Kurt Thomas
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (3 May 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Berlin Classics
  • ASIN: B0000035UM
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 582,490 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Schopenhauer’s ghost on 6 Feb. 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This may not be the most famous version of these cantatas, but it must be amongst the most beautiful. The performers give a rendition that is genuinely touching in its intimacy and tenderness, as befits the subject matter. I strongly recommend this to anyone who loves the music of Bach.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
Excellent Prey... 31 Oct. 2014
By Kirk List - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
...more mixed Hoffgen and Thomas. I always considered Prey a great singer- lieder, opera, operetta.
The disc version of his Bach Cantatas BWV 32 and 57 with Elly Ameling with Helmut Winschermann and the German Bach Soloists (Winschermann Bach 13 Cantatas set/Philips-see my review) is a must. Still wish that Philips/Eloquence
(or someone else) would reissue Prey's treasurable 6CD imprort: Hermann Prey/Lied Edition Vol 2/442692 (49 Schubert lieder plus the three song cycles). Also his Decca Schwanengesang with Walter Klien. In BWV 56 and 82 here, he sings dramatically
and is suitably mournful. Kurt Thomas is somewhat dour and underenergized even considering the texts. In BWV 54 Marga
Hoffgen is as ever a fine artist, a true contralto who sings with feeling, but with a less than entrancing timbre I think-she
was also a favorite of Otto Klemperer and Eugen Jochum. The three cantatas do make for a more attractive disc than #s 56 and 82 alone.

Selected Peers: #54-Forrester/Vanguard
#56- Fischer-Dieskau/Ristenpart/DG, Hotter/EMI, Souzay/Philips
#82- Baker/EMI, Hunt-Lieberson, Hendricks/EMI, Forrester/Vanguard
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The difficulty with Johann Sebastian Bach 11 Feb. 2012
By Harry Fisher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The difficulty with reviewing music By Johann Sebastian Bach is that he usually outstrips the intellectual capacities of the reviewer. What one listener perceives as a performer's lack of imagination and change of pace, another may hear as the expression of the rhythmic pulse of the piece. The harmonic changes and their dynamics propel the music forward, and do not need the support of props. The music stands completely on its own and creates its own drama in the sensorium that Bach targeted with such skill and cunning.

I recommend this recording, especially BWV 56. Hermann Prey does far better than Dietrich Fischer-Diskau in his BWV 56. The opening aria, "Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen" (which is usually translated as "Gladly the cross I'd bear," although "Kreuzstab" means, roughly, "pilgrim's staff") consists of three sections that show Prey's singing and breathing excellence. Prey ends the aria resonantly on the low G that Bach wrote, which DFD in his recording is unable to reach. Hermann Prey was indeed a marvelous singer. Sic transit.

It helps to listen to the vocal line until it's thoroughly memorized and then explore the melodies of the instruments that surround the voice. That's where the Bach gold is buried.
8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful singing from another era 19 May 2006
By Larry VanDeSande - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These performances represent the kapellmeister approach to Bach that was famous in the postwar era through the age of enlightenment known as period performance practice, when Bach style changed. Produced in Leipzig in 1959, these performances of two of Bach's most famous baritone cantatas and a lesser known alto cantata lack the fire, speed, clipped phrasing and hectoring that has become commonplace in Bach performance under PPP.

The cantatas here -- Nos. 54 for alto and 56 & 82 for baritone -- are all beautifully sung by the principals and lovingly conducted by Thomas. Hoffgen is a hefty, gutteral but lovely alto that would show anyone under 40 what an alto is supposed to sound like in the era of countertenors. Prey was one of the most cultured lieder singers of his time and performs here with much beauty of tone and phrasing.

What these performances lack, however, is imagination, rubato and changes in pace and phraseology on repeats that we take for granted today from the world's better Bach cantata groups. There is a sameness in approach across this CD that turns the extended beauty into something bordering on mundane. Although the soloists are world class singers, their relative lack of changing temperament renders their performances closer to practice than performance, as they rarely change inflection, speed or emotion from movement to movement. Thomas does little to help here, maintaining a metronomic approach that varies by only a few points from one movement to the next.

Is this the way they did things behind the Iron Curtain in the postwar era? This recording is not as stylistically abhorrent as Karajan's justly infamous performance of the Brandenburg concertos -- which one critic once said was a topic for discussion at meetings of the Flat Earth Society -- but anyone under age 40 that's never heard Bach performed in old school style would be in for quite a shock listening to this group.

What saves this for posterity are the wonderful voices of Hoffgen and Prey, a pair of singers that equal any out there today. Thomas made a group of Bach cantata recordings in the old school way and this represents that body of work. It is a beautiful look back at the way things were done a half-century back but it will be difficult for most people to get fully on board with this approach today.
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