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Bach : Cantatas
Format: Audio CDChange
Price:£8.80+Free shipping with Amazon Prime

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 October 2007
This complilation includes the pentitential cantata 131 from Bach's Muhlhausen (1707-1708) period, and 5 cantatas from Bach's first 3 years in Leipzig. Cantata 105 from the first cantata cycle in Leipzig is a breathtaking and expansive choral work sung ravishingly here with great orchestral playing which fully illustrates the new intensive and multilayered complexity of this cantata with its complex instrumental integration with the text. These performances are superb in the way that they communicate great feeling and the intriciate compositional design without any artifical studied posturing sometimes found in other original instrument performances. The performances are fluid and seemingly spontaneous and are striking in their emotional intensity and depth of feeling. Unfortunately since this is a budget-priced re-issue of a 1992-1993 recording no libretto of the text is included. However the texts are easily found on the internet.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
There are two previous and largely contradictory reviews for this bargain double-disc, one of which, quite erroneously in my view, accuses these performances of being "too operatic", while the other quite rightly praises the straightforward unaffectedness of the manner employed.

Herreweghe is my "go-to" conductor for intelligent, informed and musically sensitive, historically aware performances and he rarely lets me down, especially in Mozart and Bach. The choir and orchestra are authentic sounding without any of the distracting and self-regarding mannerisms which mar the more zealous period performers' style. The soloists here are not by any means the starriest ever assembled: Agnes Mellon on CD2 is a little thin and pale compared with the prettier and fuller-voiced Barbara Schlick, Howard Crook is excellent but some of his German vowels are distorted ("Harr" for "Herr") and alto Gérard Lesne has some intonation issues compared with fellow countertenor Charles Brett. The mild and civilised bass Peter Kooy has the bulk of the singing and does so sensitively if rather politely. Crook's tenor solos, especially in BWV 73, are not among the most interesting Bach ever wrote but as compensation there is some lovely choral writing.

This does not go to the top of my favourite recordings of Bach cantatas - that remains headed by the solo albums by Janet Baker and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson - but we are offered six of consistently fine quality at low price rendered especially attractive by the refinement of the Collegium Vocal, Ghent whose tuning, balance and ensemble are all superb.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 12 January 2008
Anyone new to Bach cantatas may suspect that this facet of his work might not represent JSB at his best. The obligation to churn out cantatas so regularly (for the Sunday Lutheran service) seems a sure way of sapping anyone's energies and spreading any inspiration far too thinly. This assumption would be completely wrong. The cantatas very often show Bach at his most creative, and six superb examples are on this disc.

Cantata BWV73 is one that manages to sustain the listener's interest throughout. Admittedly, it is one of the shorter cantatas (TT: 13'43 on this recording), but its two arias and two chorales engage the listener from the first bars, with its arresting, rhythmic motif. And the same can be said of other works on this double CD - BWV131 and BWV105 are similarly overflowing with melody and invention.

The style of singing on display here though is varied. Whist Peter Kooy's bass seems better suited to the string ensemble around him, Barbara Schlick's soprano is too operatic for me, with a vibrato that seems uncomfortably fast. Even the excellent Peter Kooy is not entirely above reproach. His recitative, 'Wohl aber dem' in BWV105, is conspicuous for an incessant rolled 'r' which is a much more Mediterranean trill of a sound than Bach probably intended. (This trilling, together with excessive vibrato, is suggestive of Italian high opera, while the music seems to call for something more akin to the purity of plainsong.)

At the budget end of the spectrum, however, this recording represents superb value. Even if arguably not quite in the top drawer, there are gems here to warrant much replaying, and the CD is an ideal introduction to the transcendent cantata repertoire of Bach. In its choice of tempi, quality of orchestral playing and, on balance, vocal performances (Kooy especially) this is a disc that will be hard to beat.
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