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Bach, J.S.: Cantatas BWV 106, 131, 99, 56, 82 & 158

Bach, J.S.: Cantatas BWV 106, 131, 99, 56, 82 & 158

1 Jan 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Disc 2
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Jan. 1998
  • Release Date: 10 Aug. 1998
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Decca Music Group Ltd.
  • Copyright: (C) 1998 Decca Music Group Limited
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 1:46:16
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001LQLOWU
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 139,859 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)
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Several years ago, I heard a recording of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus performed by a very small ensemble and was thrilled by it. So when I saw that here were some of the Bach Cantatas with one voice per part, I jumped at the chance to become familiar with them. They sound more intimate than the usual 'bigger is better' approach, and a balance for the period instruments. These selections don't have the huge fugues where the masses sound best. Instead they are performed by skilled singers and it all makes sense.
The second CD has the 3 cantatas for bass and the same 1VPP chorus where the soloist is also the basso of the chorus. I know this approach may not be for everyone, but I enjoyed all 6 Cantatas thoroughly.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumph 12 Jun. 2007
By Stephen McLeod - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Joshua Rifkin and the Bach Ensemble have produced the most important recordings of Bach cantatas in the last 20 years, give or take. In 1986, the idea that Bach did not use choirs to sing his choruses, but gave that task to the singers also used as soloists so that each part in the chorale movements are sung by one voice, was controversial. Since then, however, Rifkin seems to have been vindicated, and modified versions of Rifkin's theory have been utilized in performances by, not only Rifkin the Bach Ensemble, but also by others including Andrew Parrot (who wrote a book about it) and Ton Koopman.

The resulting sound from performances where the OVPP method is engaged is radically different from that on full-chorus performances. For one thing, voices are allowed a great deal more room for individual expression - ornaments, dynamics, when to use their vibrato's and when not to. Additionally, choirs have a full, uniform ripeness of sound, that has never seemed quite right in the cantatas (as opposed to the St. Matthew Passion for example). The harmony and counterpoint on most of the cantatas, as well as the precision of musical ideas and the extremely limited instrumental parts - in many movements, there is nothing more than an oboe or a pair of recorders plus continuo - belie an intimacy that big choirs and orchestras (or even little choirs and orchestras) cannot capture by definition.

Included here are six works, including cantata number 106, "Actus tragicus", which is one of Bach's most profound works and three cantatas for bass solo. including the well-known "Ich habe genung." For these three alone, this recording would be indispensible. As it is, the six cantatas recorded here seem not only deeply beautiful, they are definitive. I will never hear 106 again without comparison to Rifkin's. Ditto the bass cantatas. It's hard to imagine anyone more suited than Jan Opalach to sing the bass parts of these works.

Rifkin's first recording of six "favorite" cantatas was problematic for many listeners because of a number of problems. The singing was excellent in places and not so in others. The sound engineering was generally no asset. But that CD set remains indispensible. Most of the sound and all of the singing issues are resolved here. I recommend following along with the texts at first so as to "get" Bach's allusions and compositional technique for each work. Once you become familiar, though, what a joy it is just to close your eyes and be transported to the land of "the persistent sublime."
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definately worth having 6 Jan. 2009
By grozny - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Rifkin's Bach is different, not only for the extreme clarity of musical line and texts due to the use of one voice per line in the chorus, but to Rifkin's brisk and lively tempi. His is one on the few modern recordings of BWV106's openning chorus that resembles the old Scherchen. Purely a matter of taste, but definately worth having. At the price, it's a bargain. The solists are not always first rate, but they're good. Be advised that the second disc is essentially the same material as on Kooy's all basso cantata disc, but Rifkin's Bach remains all his own. The bass, however, lacks the emotion of some of the best solists.

Anyone who is truly responsive to the Bach cantatas cannot be satisfied with only one performance of any of the great ones. If Rifkin is not your first choice, it still should be in any Bach collection.
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