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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful performances of Christmastide cantatas., 7 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Bach: Cantatas, Vol 1 - Advent and Christmas /Richter (Audio CD)
This boxed set of cantatas originates from the late 1960's and early 70's and was the first volume of what was to become Karl Richter's series to record one of Bach's cantatas for each of the Sundays and Holy Days of the Church Year.

The Cantatas recorded here are 61, 132, 63, 121, 64, 28, 171, 58, 65, 124, 13, 111, 81 and 82. (65 & 124 in 1967, 82 in 1968, 58 in 1970 and the rest in 1971/72.)

So what are the performances like? In a word excellent. For me this is certainly the best and most consistently satisfying of Richter's boxed sets of Bach cantata recordings. Some of these performances are still hard to beat, even from the present masters of Bach cantata recordings such as John Eliot Gardiner, Ton Koopman, Masaaki Suzuki etc.

My highlights of the set would be. Cantata 65 with its opening chorus scored for 2 recorders, 2 Oboe da Caccia (here played on Cor Anglais') and 2 Horns, Strings and Continuo, bounces along wonderfully probably evoking a scene of a camel train journeying to Bethlehem. The soloists Ernst Haefliger and Theo Adam are excellent too which make this performance is a gem. Cantata 63 for Christmas Day has its joyful outbursts from its 3 Oboes, 4 Trumpets and Drums in the opening and closing choruses and a stunningly beautiful meditative opening recitative for alto, the wonderful Anna Reynolds. Cantata 13's opening aria for Tenor and 2 recorders, Oboe da Caccia (Cor Anglais again) and continuo is perfectly paced and Peter Schreier is on top form. And Cantata 81 is also outstanding. In fact I'd go as far as to say that every cantata in this boxed set has something to recommend itself, either its the choral singing, or the solo singing or the instrumental players.

And that brings me to the soloists. Shelia Armstrong sings in only one cantata, no 58, and is very good - I would have liked to have heard more of her in other cantatas. Lotte Schadle (cantata 124) is adequate and teams up well with Hertha Topper in the duet of the cantata. The soprano soloist in the rest of the cantatas is Edith Mathis who is very reliable although I have to say that I'm not very enamoured with her tone in the opening aria of cantata 132. The alto Hertha Topper sings in cantatas 28, 171 and 124 and is perfectly acceptable. But the soloist who really does stand out in this set is the alto Anna Reynolds who is on top form and sings beautifully and with such sensitivity when required. Ernst Haefliger (cantatas 65,124) and Peter Schreier (the rest) sing up to their usual high standard, as does the bass, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. The other Bass soloist is Theo Adam who sings in cantatas 132, 65, 124, 111 and 81. So as you can see a very high quality set of soloists.

The Munich Bach Choir and Orchestra perform with great vim and vigour and are on top form. A special mention must go to the woodwind soloists - the recorder and oboe players who perform with great aplomb and are aided by an excellent analogue recording.

So this box is eminently recommendable with excellent performances. Worth exploring even if your penchant is for a "period" sound.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best, 12 May 2010
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Roland Herrera, Bristol UK (Bristol, Avon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bach: Cantatas, Vol 1 - Advent and Christmas /Richter (Audio CD)
without doubt the best series of cantatas ever recorded
karl richter is my hero
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