This disc was recently chosen as disc of the month by Gramophone magazine. It is performed with one voice-per-part. This may put some buyers off, but I would urge anyone who is not dogmatically set against 1-p-p performances to try this disc. The singing is excellent, particularly from the two women, and the great opening chorus of BWV 1 is the finest I have heard - the clarity of the vocal counterpoint is wonderful. The instrumental playing is also done in a very noticeably period manner; completely vibrato-less strings with very energetic and sometimes resiny sounding bowing, reedy sounding woodwind and bright sharp horns. But there is never an ugly or pinched sound, as would sometimes occur with period bands from the 80's and early 90's. Kuijken both conducts and leads the violins and his imaginative phrasing is constantly interesting without being ostentatious. Kuijken also writes the extensive, interesting and occasionally controversial liner-notes.
Personally, I own and rate very highly various recent Bach cantata recordings from the ongoing Suzuki, Gardiner, Koopman and Herreweghe cycles (Suzuki being perhaps the finest in general). But I would rate this Kuijken, as a single disc, up there with the very finest cantata performances. It is noteworthy that despite the endless fuss and debate about 1-p-p performances of Bach's choral music, there still are comparatively few 1-p-p cantata recordings (though Junghanel directing Cantus Colln on Harmonia Mundi is an excellent recent example). If you love Bach cantatas, and are not too doctrinaire about what is the "historically correct" manner of performance, then you will not be disappointed by this. I will certainly now invest in a few more of Kuijken's cantata discs . . .
3 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?