1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2010
They don't make Bach cantata recordings like this anymore. Conductor Felix Prohaska was a Baroque specialist for the Bach Guild -- the label this was produced for under Vanguard -- when he made these recordings in the 1950s. The performers here inlcude tenor Anton Dermota and soprano Teresa Stich-Randal in BWV 78 & 106, the pair that have gathered greatest acclaim. These are religious cantatas with text as sublime as the soprano-alto duet in the second half of BWV 78.
Bach specialist Albert Schweitzer called the text a contrast of Christ's suffering and pain as opposed to that of the joy of salvation. In a latter movement, the text reads: "If hell's army forces me to fight, then Jesus will stand by my side so that I will be brave and victorious."
The message in BWV 106, Arcticus tragicus, is hardly less meaningful. Bach specialist Alfred Dürr called it, "A work of genius such as even great masters seldom achieve," saying, "The Actus Tragicus belongs to the great musical literature of the world."
Most commentators consider BWV 106 to be the greatest masterpiece of Bach's early period, with its discussion of death and the sacrifice of Jesus, themes that are oft-heard in the Bach cantata canon -- and are often not giving appropriate weight by modern singers of the period revolution. The performance here is outstanding, of course, making this one of the most sought after Bach cantata recordings.
Anyone shopping for this is likely to be an experienced Bach cantata fan looking for lost treasure from the past. Until such time as a company comes along and reinvents the Bach Guild recordings, expensive used recordings will be the only ones available.