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Customer Review

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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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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Review Details

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Reviewer

Jon Chambers
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Birmingham, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,652