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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BACK TO THE BEST
This issue looks likely to be one of the very best in this great series. For newcomers, Gardiner and his colleagues devoted the year 2000, which was the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, to a `pilgrimage', mainly in Europe but finishing in New York, in which they performed all the master's surviving cantatas on the liturgical dates for which he had composed them. For...
Published on 29 Dec 2008 by DAVID BRYSON

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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What happened?
I gave the first volume of Bach cantatas five stars. I did not hesitate to buy this second set. I must say that I am quite dissapointed. Starting with the orchestra, many of the fine qualities of volume one seems to have dissapeared. Such as the wonderful continuo playing, the perfect intonation and great precision. These recordings feels a lot more unsecure. The more...
Published on 16 Mar 2005 by D. Gammelgard


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BACK TO THE BEST, 29 Dec 2008
By 
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bach: Cantatas, Vol 8 /Gardiner (Audio CD)
This issue looks likely to be one of the very best in this great series. For newcomers, Gardiner and his colleagues devoted the year 2000, which was the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, to a `pilgrimage', mainly in Europe but finishing in New York, in which they performed all the master's surviving cantatas on the liturgical dates for which he had composed them. For newcomers again, this set would be as good a place to start becoming familiar with the series as I have so far encountered in the 13 issues I have collected. All the works here find Bach at his most approachable, and one in particular, Jauchzet Gott BWV 51, is rather a famous one, and it's not hard to appreciate why. For some reason the last addition to my collection, numbered 3 in their inscrutable numbering system, was not the best. However 13 has turned out to be quite the opposite of an unlucky number for me.

In other respects the processes by which numbers have been allocated defeat my understanding. In the first place the BWV numeration of the cantatas is unrelated to their sequence of composition. BWV 99 dates from 11 years earlier than BWV 100, which is to the same basic text, to take an obvious case. The series number allocated by the editors to each set is completely at variance with the date of each performance and also, so far as I can see, with the order in which the sets have been released to the public. As a bonus here, Gardiner in his introductory essay seems to speak of BWV 99 and 100 as being the first and third of Bach's settings of the text in question, whereas when we come to the actual texts we find them referred to as `II' and `III'. Which is the one that is actually missing, and where has it got to anyway?

All this may be in the spirit of the Mysteries which form a key part of Lutheran Christian belief. Easier to appreciate, I can report happily, is the quality of the work, which is absolutely admirable from every point of view. First the recorded sound is up with the best, tactful and proportionate throughout, and even having a hint of remoteness, presumably intentional, when Mark Padmore ascends the pulpit steps to perform his solos on the second disc. Secondly the performers are all on top form, instrumentalists as well as singers, and among the singers chorus as well as soloists. There are 8 solo singers, 6 of whom I can welcome back from my previous encounters with them as I have progressively collected this series, one of whom is Padmore whom I know well from elsewhere, and a spectacular newcomer to me is the Swedish soprano Malin Hartelius who has the spectacularly difficult cantata 51 to herself, plus one aria and participation in two duets in other numbers on the first disc from Bremen. The first movement of this cantata is an absolute knockout, assisted by that wonderful trumpet obbligato given here by Mme Hartelius' compatriot Niklas Eklund. In this movement, and even more in the concluding Alleluja, I had the sensation of an appearance by a guest star, and this is a voice and artistry that I want to get to know better. The `regulars' I have come to know and appreciate, and Padmore may be another `star' turn, giving in particular a very striking account of the aria Was willst du dich.

As well as singing, Padmore has been invited, or has volunteered, to append the short performer's essay at the end of the set that always complements the conductor's own lengthy and deep-browed musings. As always, I take issue with this great Bachian only to the extent that I find less in the way of representation than he does in the music. Handel thought pictorially, it seems to me, Bach not. The 8 cantatas here are Bach at his most characteristic. He always seems most comfortable to me when simply reiterating the basic serenity and trust in the Almighty that was the hallmark of his own strain of Lutheranism. He will do hell fire and scriptural drama when he has to, but it is the repetitious-seeming sentiments of the Pietist verses that draw out from him his best music, music of seemingly infinite variety and beauty without any apparent effort being made at giving individuality to the separate numbers.

I started this notice with some remarks addressed to any newcomers who may read it. I hope they will join me in admiring the format of the production, and I would add a word of caution that the discs are slightly liable to fall out if the set is handled incautiously, and that it needs care not to touch the surfaces. Otherwise - enjoy.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 3 May 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Bach: Cantatas, Vol 8 /Gardiner (Audio CD)
I don't know how to praise this CD well enough! I've been a fan of Gardiner's recordings since buying his seminal version of The St. Matthew's - and he continues to bring his crisp dramatic style [which I adore] to another set of amazing Bach cantatas. I'm not sure whether to praise the music of Bach or the interpretation of Gardiner most, as both must contribute hugely to the amazing quality on display here!
What fantastic music, especially note the wonderful harmonies on display in the opening chorus of 'Wer weib, wie nahe mein Ende' along with Mark Padmore's amazingly powerful and heartbreaking solo, and can someone please tell me how the alto's pitch their note on the voice by voice entry in the opening chorus of 'Christus, der ist mein Leben' In addition the off beat oboe d'amour that comes in so shockingly, and beautifully, in the 3rd movement of the same cantata, paralyzed me with joy!!
Buy this, and bask in the glow of two geniuses. You'll catch something new every time!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A musical feast, 11 April 2008
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Jon Chambers (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bach: Cantatas, Vol 8 /Gardiner (Audio CD)
There are two excellent reasons to buy this CD - BWV99 and BWV8. If this doesn't sound very convincing, it may help to mention that the wonderfully melodious and up-beat opening to Walton's suite The Wise Virgins is based on the opening Choral of BWV99 (for 'based on', read lifted from). What's more, JSB himself was so taken by this one that he used it to open BWV100 (same text, trumpets and drums added, and included on CD1). No 99 in particular is full of delights, not just the first movement. Like the slinky chromaticism of the flute in the third number and the fifth number, for bass.

With its lyrical charm, the opening to BWV8 is of transcendent beauty. For me, it provides perhaps the most gorgeous Bach cantata moments of all (all of those I've heard, anyway) surpassing even BWV82. It shows Bach as a superb melodist, not just an exemplary formalist and technician. Ideas - of consistently high quality - come thick and fast, as in the Brandenburg Concertos or the Magnificat, for instance. The only false notes seem to appear in the third number of BWV27 which, with musical quotations from Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Bach's own BWV147 cantata, sounds something like Baroque pastiche.

This Pilgrimage recording of BWV8 is strikingly different from, say, Rifkin's version (L'Oiseau-Lyre). Whereas Rifkin uses a solo quartet of voices for the opening movement, Gardiner opts for a choral approach. Both are deeply satisfying. Another reviewer has mentioned the 'wet' sound quality of the recording, and wonders if another microphone, positioned closer, might have improved resolution. It is in BWV8 that this criticism seems most valid - the bass does seem rather distant and lacking definition. Overall, however, sound quality is fine, to my ears, at least. Moreover, the 'live' performance isn't compromised by coughs, lightning strikes, police sirens, or any of the other potential perils of going live.

A very good friend of mine maintains that Bach didn't know how to write dross. Not knowing all of Bach's output, I'm not sure about this claim, but he's on very safe ground in respect of the works on offer here: sublime, inventive, mellifluous, inspirational and, most certainly, dross-free.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What happened?, 16 Mar 2005
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D. Gammelgard "dave_ga" (Falun, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bach: Cantatas, Vol 8 /Gardiner (Audio CD)
I gave the first volume of Bach cantatas five stars. I did not hesitate to buy this second set. I must say that I am quite dissapointed. Starting with the orchestra, many of the fine qualities of volume one seems to have dissapeared. Such as the wonderful continuo playing, the perfect intonation and great precision. These recordings feels a lot more unsecure. The more established singers like Mark Padmore does a tremendous job as usual but there is a different story with the newcomers. For example the soprano Malin Hurtelius seems quite nervous and her intonation is way out in a duet on the first cd. The alto Robin Tyson is also terribly insecure in both the duet and a solo aria. This is sad to hear on such a fine an after all very ambitious production by the english Bach veterans. The two other singers Jame Gilchrist and Thomas Gunthrie are though very fine singers performing very well here. The acoustics in the Santiago recording is really to "wet". Closer microphones could probably have solved this. Let's hope that the first release was not a lucky strike and that we can expect more from future releases. Gardiner and Co. can do a lot better than this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bach the greatest, 10 May 2013
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This review is from: Bach: Cantatas, Vol 8 /Gardiner (Audio CD)
I have nothing to add to what I have just written above. Sorry, but I'm always short of time! Now I'm half way through completing the collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 1 Dec 2014
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This review is from: Bach: Cantatas, Vol 8 /Gardiner (Audio CD)
Must-have music.
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Bach: Cantatas, Vol 8 /Gardiner
Bach: Cantatas, Vol 8 /Gardiner by John Eliot Gardiner (Audio CD - 2004)
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