Four cantatas for four different solo voices are recorded here conducted by the late Gustav Leonhardt, with the Leonhardt Consort and the Hannover Boys' Choir (who provide the final chorales in Nos 52, 55 & 56). The orchestral accompaniment, using instruments built as they were in Bach's time, is excellent in all four pieces here, with well-chosen speeds and superb balance between voice and instruments. Any hesitation on my part about "awarding" a Five-star rating rests with the solo singers.
There is one clear five-star performance here: Paul Esswood's Alto is second to none - exact intonation, perfect timing and with a tonal range that really pierces the heart of Cantata 54 (the shortest work here).
Kurt Equiluz (Tenor in #55) and Michael Schpper (Bass in # 56) are less impressive (they both have a tendency to "over-act" in their response to the words, and the former has a rather quivering vibrato: presumably trying to convey the "fear and trembling" of the libretto.) but never less than satisfactory.
Cantata 52, as Bach intended, is taken by a boy - here eleven-year-old Josef Kronwitter (who later became a professional Trumpeter) - and, I think, this is the only recording of the Cantata which uses a Treble: an invaluable thing in itself, then. But he does have noticeable problems with breath control (a salutory reminder of how demanding the composer was of his young performers, and his confidence in their skills) and intonation. I find this quite touching and charming, but other listeners may be less forgiving, and it is pointless to suggest that it is a serious rival to the professional, adult female voices on other recordings.
So, Two stars for #52, Three for 54 & 55, and Five for #56. At the current price (£2.74) this is still an excellent bargain, and it has given me many hours of delight.
(Oh: and there's no Cantata #53 because the work that was given that number when the Bach Catalogue of Works was put together in the 19th Century isn't by Bach - it's [probably] by G M Hoffmann. Who also wrote "Bach's" Cantata # 189.)