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Bach: Cantatas, Vol 5 - Sundays after Trinity II /Richter Box set

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Audio CD (10 May 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000025H5X
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 765,438 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Disc 2
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Disc 3
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Disc 4
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Disc 5
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Normally I see this 5th volume on sale for around £150, so I was happy to get it for around £10 ; I think it came from France.... well that completes my set of 5 boxes of Richter Cantatas. I saw these go for $4,000 in the US Amazon. This is a lost art... listen to these and nothing else!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x937b91c8) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9390e780) out of 5 stars The best 2 April 2013
By A Musician in Training - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Not to be rude or anything to the last reviewer (I respect most of what he has written), but realistically the Karl Richter Cantata recordings really are the closest one can come to perfect. One is awakened to the sheer power of Bach's works time after time; I'd say there is not a single "bad apple" in all of these Karl Richter recordings. The tempi are perfect. Now Fritz Werner is of course excellent, so honestly I would recommend getting both of their sets, but in terms of overall result, Karl Richter is the greatest. I never find myself thinking "This is too slow" when listening to Karl Richter, though time does stand still; this is not something I get with Fritz Werner. Yes perhaps Fritz Werner sometimes shows more beauty (this is not to say Karl Richter's alto and sopranos are not beautiful, though Agnes Giebel is sometimes simply unbeatable, though so are Edith Mathis and Reynolds), but Karl Richter really causes time to stop, and chills like those I experienced the first time I heard the Beethoven symphonies set in. I know I might not be correct in saying this but... KARL RICHTER IS ALWAYS RIGHT. I have probably lost my credibility now, but I simply know good music when I hear it. Now of course you might not want to pay $120 (sometimes $500 or $900) for this single volume, BUT HAVE HEART. In two weeks of waiting, I was able to pick up the entire set (buying each volume separately) for under $200. Maybe I got lucky, but then a month after making the purchase online, I found the entire set in my local CD store's used section(!) There are a lot of sets out there, just wait for someone to sell them. All in all my belief is that Karl Richter's renditions are the best and most "objective" (what I mean, is if one could only buy one set this would be the one) but it is nice to hear Fritz Werner to complement. Now I agree with the former reviewer in his respect for Fritz Werner, but realistically Helmuth Rilling is useless; his style is entirely inconsistent, and often one loses any unity and sense of the beauty and depth of these works as Rilling renders them like dances. The best are Karl Richter, Fritz Werner... and Hermann Scherchen who only recorded a few cantatas but in those often achieves a unity greater than Karl Richter, though different.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x938ed7ec) out of 5 stars Listening to Karl Richter's files: Volume 5 21 Feb. 2013
By Anton Zimmerling - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
A summary of my review is that the content of 5-CD boxed set is worth buying in form of mp3s. Although in some cases a music lover may desire more subtle performances of the selected 16 Bach's cantatas, they are seldom found together in one CD-set. If you buy mp3s, it might be a good idea to pick up the most successful items, but the completists will want to have all of them.

Like many CD collectors, I have known Karl Richter's Bach recordings from DG / Archive LPs made in 1960s in 1970s. Although Karl Richter was a serious musician and had at his disposal many outstanding soloists and a great choir - Münchener Bach-Chor, his recording contract with the DG / Archive (he recorded 75 Bach cantatas from 1959 to the time of his death in 1981) does not prove that he was the best Bach conductor of his generation - an important comparison are Bach cycles with Fritz Werner on Erato Great Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantatas Numbers 26, 61, and 130 and Helmut Rilling's project on Erato / Musical Society Heritage, later issued by Hänssler on CD J. S. Bach: The Complete Cantatas Box.

The cantata recordings in Vol. 5 of Richter edition were mostly made in 1975-1979, with the exception of BWV 55 (rec. 1959), BWV 60 (rec. 1964), BWV 106 and BWV 26 (rec. 1966) and BWV 56 (rec. 1969). The early recordings belong to the best ones, in the 1970s Richter's hand is often heavy, the rhythm is pedantic and the continuo line overloaded by an obsessive organ. I am neither an admirer nor a detractor of Karl Richter: I suggest that the listener evaluates each cantata performance in this set on an individual basis, since the performances are not quite even.

The main Richter's assets are the Münchener Bach-Chor, excellent instrumentalists and soloists, to start with Fischer-Dieskau. His voice is in decline here, but this compensates by profound interpretation, exemplary intonation and other merits. In the early recordings the tenor part is sung by Ernst Haefliger: on the opera scene this singer could be qualified as a `lyrico-spinto' voice, but among the performers of tenor parts in Bach's cantatas he sounds almost as a heroic tenor, singing with a fuller, bigger tone, firm attacks and more open voice than most. The solo tenor cantata BWV 55 `Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig' (CD 2), and in the tenor aria from BWV 26 (CD 3, track 19) shows his art at its best: he is also good in BWV 106 and 60. In the later recordings the tenor is Peter Schreier, who has a more `dietic' voice - which does not contradict the pieces he is cast to sing. The alto parts in the later recordings from the 1970s are sung by a mezzo-soprano Trudeliese Schmidt, who has an appealing and flowing voice, with fine legato. She is credited three arias - from BWV 115 (CD 3, track 2), BWV 116 (CD 4, track 2) and BWV 70 (CD 4, track 9 - her best achievement). Very pleasant singing, if not profound interpretations. In the earlier recordings the alto parts are sung by the noted contralto Hertha Töpper (BWV 26, 106, 60). The basses Kieth Engen and Theo Adam in the early recordings from 1960s are good.

The instrumentalists playing obbligato parts deserve a praise too, especially the first oboe Manfred Clement. In BWV 106 (CD 5) the first recorder is played by Hans-Martin Linde who also made some recordings of Bach's cantatas as a conductor.
Some short comments about the choice of cantatas and the performances in Vol. 5.

CD 1. The greatest cantata and the greatest performance is BWV 56 with Fischer-Dieskau (tracks 14-18). Earlier Fi-Di's recordings of BWV 56, see Bach: Kantaten / Fischer-Dieskau, Lehmann, Ristenpart and Dietrich Fischer-dieskau J.s. Basch: Kreuzstab-kantate Bwv 56 are excellent too, but this 1969 version with Richter excels by the gloomy and solemn final chorale (track 18).

CD 2. The most successful item is the solo tenor cantata BWV 55 with Haefliger (tracks 14-18). BWV 180 and BWV 38 are none less remarkable cantatas, but the performances lack grace.

CD 3. My favourite is BWV 26, with its furious initial chorus, played by Richter very fast (track 18). BWV 60 with its famous fate motif is a great work, but I do not know an ideal performance.

CD 4. BWV 116, 70, 140. Try selected solo pieces. The performance of BWV 140 as a whole is disappointing.

CD 5. The 1966 recording of the funeral `Actus tragicus', BWV 106 (tracks 15-23) is direct and impressive. In BWV 130 and BWV 80 Richter does not escape the danger of making these scores sound noisy and pompous.
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