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Customer Review

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I CAN NEVER HAVE GENUG, 28 Dec. 2007
This review is from: Bach: Cantatas (BWV 56, 4, 82) /Fischer-Dieskau · Richter (Audio CD)
These performances were first recorded in 1969 and 1970, when one of the most magnificent voices of the 20th century was still in its superb prime. Of the three cantatas here one, # 56, is new to my collection and offers us 4 successive solos from the great man plus a short final chorale. The early Christ lag in Todesbanden cantata is mainly choral with only one stanza sung solo, and I own another performance from Gardiner's `pilgrimage' series with Stephen Varcoe as soloist. Of the celestial Ich habe genug this is now the fourth account in my collection, and I wonder how many more I shall acquire before either my collection of the Bach cantatas or its collector's allotted time is complete. Fischer-Dieskau joins the august company of John Shirley-Quirk (with Marriner), Ian Bostridge in his celebrated debut disc with Europa Galante, and the lamented Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in making a firm single recommendation at such a level of excellence something I find to be beyond me.

As far as the `Christ lag' cantata is concerned, I would dare to say that I probably prefer the Gardiner/Varcoe offering to this one, although I prefer both to either. Varcoe acquits himself splendidly and has nothing to fear from comparison with the great Berliner. What tips the balance for me is the orchestral side, where Gardiner and his nomadic colleagues delight me especially with the freshness and crispness of their work, if that is not unduly suggestive of talking about lettuce. However I cite comparisons here only as a side-issue and as a very rough guide to some alternatives, although I should probably mention that the Bostridge disc contains the sinfonia from cantata # 4 as a small filler. The point of this issue for me is to hear Fischer-Dieskau sing Bach, and if I never in my life hear any alternative account of the Kreuzstab cantata I shall not feel deprived.

How many times, and from how many artists, could I wish to hear Schlummert ein from the cantata Ich habe genug? It is a piece that I could listen to more or less indefinitely, and my luck has held to the extent that the performances I have chosen are without exception superb. The one that is significantly different from the others in concept is Bostridge's, and that is more because of Europa Galante than because of Bostridge. This group provide an all-out-authentic sound, (as well as using a flute and not an oboe obbligato), the other three ensembles seemingly using modern instruments although admirably in harmony with early 18th century style and idiom. Hunt Lieberson is given a more vivid recording than are the others, and that makes the most of the startling effect she creates with the low notes at `selig zu' highlighted by a long pause following. For the rest, I do not wish to make detailed comparisons. Fischer-Dieskau's disc offers a selection of works that I don't think is paralleled elsewhere, making comparisons to that extent irrelevant. The disc is significant to me above all for bringing me a great and unique artist in Bach to complement the Beethoven, Schubert, Loewe, Brahms, Wolf and Strauss works where he already features in my collection.

The digital remastering seems to have been done in 1984, if I have understood the matter rightly. The recorded sound is not remarkable in any way, but I have no complaints. Above all it is faithful to that magnificent vocal tone, completely unmistakable. The liner note is a touch Teutonic in style and content, but useful up to a point and better translated than sometimes. Both note and texts are given in the usual three languages. 70 minutes or so of Fischer-Dieskau, with worthy orchestral and choral backing, singing a selection that contains one of the most sublime solos I know, plus a lot more that is not much worse. Obviously I can recommend this strongly, and if any of the others mentioned sound right to you I can recommend them too.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Oct 2011, 10:51:36 BST
Sasha says:
Very good and helpful review,thank you

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Oct 2011, 13:04:08 BST
Best wishes.
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Location: Glossop Derbyshire England

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