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J.S. Bach: In tempore Nativitatis - Christmas Cantatas BWV 110, 151, 63

J.S. Bach: In tempore Nativitatis - Christmas Cantatas BWV 110, 151, 63

18 Nov 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 18 Nov. 2013
  • Release Date: 18 Nov. 2013
  • Label: Mirare
  • Copyright: Mirare
  • Total Length: 1:07:45
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B00GAVAUJE
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 168,349 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This disc is a triumphant vindication of one-voice-per-part performance. While it is impossible to know exactly what Bach intended, the evidence for this type of performance is persuasive and the quality of both singing and playing is very fine. The festive sounds of trumpets and timpani are at the forefront, but listen also to the quite lovely opening aria of BWV 151. It is Bach at his very best and it is hard to imagine anyone singing it better than soprano Maria Keohane.
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Here we have a convincing calling-card for OVPP performance of Bach’s “choral” works.

No-one (outside King’s Cambridge) ever thought of using a mob of voices to sing a solo aria, nor even duets or trios; so why, as soon as the music has four lines or more, do we think we need at least ten singers on each part? Bach never thought of this, and never had the time or resources to make the idea work if he had. He did the obvious thing and used his best available voice on each line, in multiple-part as well as solo music: thus he performed his Matthew Passion with eight singers, one voice per part (plus a few appendages). This was Joshua Rifkin’s conclusion in the 1980’s, now widely accepted academically (except by choral conductors) but still feeling counter-intuitive and in need of demonstration in practice.

Rifkin’s own recordings, and Andrew Parrott’s great version of the B minor Mass began the verification process, currently being followed by Sigiswald Kuijken in a Canata series: now we have a very elegant offering (recorded in November 2012) from Philippe Pierlot and his Ricercar Consort of cantatas for the Nativity season.
They did themselves pretty well at Christmas in Leipzig in the 1720’s, not least in church: a full liturgy (with cantata) for three days in succession. The aim was celebration and meditation, and that’s what Bach gives us in these three splendid works. The two for Christmas Day itself, "Christen, atzet diesen Tag" and "Unser Mund sei voll Lachens”, are drum-and-trumpet affairs. The opening chorus of "Christen, atzet" – “Christians, etch this day on your hearts” – is very brilliant, and perfectly realised here: you can hear more when there are less voices.
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By Sid Nuncius #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 28 Dec. 2013
Format: Audio CD
This is a terrific disc of three of Bach's Christmas cantatas. I have enjoyed many of The Ricercar Consort's recordings in the past, and this is one of their best, I think.

The music itself is a delight, of course. Bach's joyful vocal and instrumental writing makes these works a huge pleasure, and his use of instrumental colour in particular is wonderful here. Philippe Pierlot and his ensemble do it proud. The one-to-a-part approach works extremely well and both the solo singing and choral work are excellent. The instrumental work is magnificent, with Bach's music really glittering in the sparkling trumpet parts especially - but every aspect of it is very fine and beautifully balanced. Pierlot keeps that pulse which is so vital to Bach beating throughout and brings really sensitive performances from all his musicians and singers with the quieter, more spiritual passages being genuinely affecting and the celebratory movements blazing with light and joy.

There are a lot of very good recordings of Bach cantatas, but this is something rather special, I think. It's beautifully recorded and very nicely presented, making it an all-round gem. Very warmly recommended.
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There's no need to repeat other reviewers' thoughts.
Sublime.
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