The Ascension Day cantatas were missed out of the Gardiner Cantata pilgrimage, probably because Ascension Day always falls on a Thursday, and it would have been an impossible job then to do the cantatas for the following Sunday. (BWV11 is often omitted from cantata surveys anyway, as it's subtitled "The Ascension Oratorio", and is seen as something different, like the Christmas Oratorio). However, thanks to the contributions of many donors, Gardiner has now done the business and recorded the four surviving Ascension Day cantatas at St. Giles Cripplegate, London, scene of some of the Cantata Pilgrimage recordings.
The Ascension Day cantatas are wonderful, joyful works, full of trumpets and drums. The best is BWV11 "Lobet Gott in seinem Reichen", but the others are also right up there, and Gardiner does them justice with great singing, great playing and, to my ears, perfectly judged tempos. A must-have for any Bach lover. Indeed, I would go further and say that, if you want only one CD of Bach cantatas, this must come perilously close to being it.
This is the 28th and final volume celebrating the complete sacred cantatas of J S Bach by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, supported by the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque soloists. I have collected the CD versions in order to enjoy the extensive reviews and personal commentary of Sir John on the 2000 pilgrimage that saw the majority of the Bach cantatas recorded in venues around Europe and the US. The booklet that came with each release is highly informative and beautifully produced. The musical treatment of these superb cantatas by Sir John and his vocal and orchestral forces is peerless. I am no musical expert, and not especially religious, but my spirit is lifted and my heart is moved whenever I listen to these wonderful recordings.
Absolutely superb work - both the cantatas themselves as well as the interpretation by Gardiner and the performance - although a live recording, there are no blips or background noise. I have experienced Himmelfahrt many times in the last few weeks both on the way there and the anticlimax of coming back down to earth.
Missing from the original recordings because Salisbury cathedral refused permission to record, this is a live recording from the performance in London in 2012, only possible because of a fund raising campaign. I was at the performance in London - crisp, clear, fast paced genius of Bach and a brilliant performance faithfully captured on cd.
Each of Bach's cantatas is a masterpiece of blending of biblical texts and music. Lutheran faith melded with musical colour, excitement, emotion, creating a spiritual experience for the listener. Gardiner's recordings of the cantatas are a joy. Mozartiana.
This kept up the very high standard of the series, all of which I have collected. Even though this was not recorded during the pilgrimage, it is good to have the Ascension Day series to complete the set.