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V 12: Bach Cantatas

Gardiner; Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists , Bach J.S. Audio CD

Price: CDN$ 37.60 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...the other one you've all been waiting for... Oct. 26 2010
By Teemacs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
...BWV140 "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme". My very favourite cantata. Nothing spectacular, but a perfectly-formed gem of a cantata. This is a gorgeous version, one of the best I've ever heard, with nicely sprung rhythms and nice pacing of the individual parts, rounding off with a perfectly realised final unison chorale. Very happy with it. Worth the price of the CD alone.

However, there are other good things on the CD. The others were not so well known to me, but they were another part of the enjoyable voyage of discovery that the cantatas have been. At one point, I thought I'd wandered into the wrong CD - out came what was unmistakably a version of the opening movement of Brandenburg Concerto No.1, complete with its braying horns. Such is the sinfonia that opens BWV52.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YET MORE WONDERFUL BACH Nov. 2 2010
By GEORGE RANNIE - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
In what I believe is the twenty-sixth (26th) release of John Eliot Gardiner's complete recordings of Johann Sebastian Bach's complete known scared cantatas, this Volume twelve (12) finds Gardner and his forces (The Monteverdi Choir, The English Baroque Soloists, plus individual soloists) to be, per usual, in splendid form performing dear ole JS wonderfully.

The Cantatas on the first disc of this two disc set of Volume 12 were written for the twenty-second Sunday after Trinity. I found these four (4) Cantatas on this disc to be rather plaintive sounding but lovely. Just listen to the lovely solo for soprano on tract fifteen (15) of disc one (1). The soloist, Joanne Lunn sings this aria just beautifully. Once again I am very impressed with Tenor, James Gilchrist who does some outstanding singing on the first disc. Listen to him sing the tenor solo cantata "Ich armer Mensch , ich Sundenknecht, BMV 55--truly lovely. In fact, all of the soloist and Gardiner acquit themselves marvelously on this disc one (1).

With a different set of soloist, the Cantatas on the second disc were written for the twenty-third (23rd) Sunday after Trinity. To me, this set of Cantatas sound more hopeful. This set of works contains the familiar Cantata "Wachet auf, BMV 140. It is indeed wonderful. Just listen to the "jazzy" duet for soprano and bass on tract twenty-one (21). On this disc too all are in fine form delivering Bach's music gloriously.
5.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful volume March 15 2012
By Glenn P. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
As the other reviewers have indicated, the music is breathtaking. The engineers have also done a fine job in capturing the performances and mastering the CDs. At this point, I have eight of the series and they are all of the highest level. The packaging is also elegant, book-like, far surpassing the usual jewel case. In addition, being able to download the CD booklets for each volume is a very nice feature. I have but one criticism.

As one other reviewer has noted, the cover photos for this series seem arbitrary and out of sync with the musical material. The photographs rendered in a painterly fashion are beautiful, but have no relationship to the content. It strikes me as another foolish nod to multiculturalism. All of the individuals look to be either African or Asian, none appear to be from the West - as usual the 'diversity' agents leave that part out. I think equally graceful covers - perhaps fine close-ups of people in period costumes - something reflecting the musical content and the milieu out of which it arose would have been possible and preferable.
5.0 out of 5 stars 22nd, 23rd and 24th March 15 2012
By DAVID BRYSON - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This 2-disc set contains the cantatas for the 22nd and 23rd Sundays after Trinity, and this review constitutes my 24th in the series, leaving three more to go. The great and visionary `pilgrimage' that Gardiner and his associates undertook in the year 2000 had them performing all Bach's extant cantatas on the liturgical dates for which he had created them, or as near as might be. Easter was late in 2000, there was no 27th Sunday after Trinity and a cantata for that occasion has therefore been added to the second disc here. This cantata is none other than the great Wachet auf (`Sleepers awake'), no. 140, so this particular issue comes to a particularly splendiferous conclusion.

For anyone joining the train at this station, the year 2000 was not just the so-called millennium year (there was no year zero, 1 BC was immediately followed by 1 AD and the millennium year is therefore 2001), it was also the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, aged 65. Behind the marvellous music-making there must have been hardly less marvellous planning, management and leadership on Gardiner's part. We know because various participants tell us that very often they were learning the piece they were to perform the next Sunday from scratch during the previous week, and to top that they were travelling around Europe, and even as far as America towards the end, between their weekly concerts. I now own 25 out of the 27 sets, and I can report with complete candour that I detect no sense of fatigue or loss of motivation at any point. Credit of course goes to the various performers (and the technical recording staff who seem totally unfazed by the constant changes of acoustic), Bach himself inscribed `SDG' (= soli Deo gloria, glory to God alone) on each masterpiece, but the rest of us will surely award a lot of that to Bach himself.

The recording venues were respectively All Saints Tooting and Winchester Cathedral. If Tooting is thought by anyone to lack stateliness, the reason for recording there was simply that the majestic acoustics of Eton Chapel, where the performance had actually taken place, were at the mercy of the flight-path to Heathrow airport, and the ensemble recreated the sense of a live performance by means of long recording takes. In any case, what's wrong with Tooting? Chaucer's more famous pilgrimage went to Southwark, after all. We can read all about it from the `blog' contributed by Gardiner himself in the usual way.

Also as normally, there is a shorter contribution from one of the performers, this time the viola player Annette Isserlis. This short essay seems to me exceptionally interesting, because in addition to the standard gasps of admiration there are thought-provoking comments on the role of the instrumentalists generally. I shall quote Mme Isserlis verbatim `As instrumentalists we are therefore embedded in the substance of each cantata, as portrayers and symbolists as well as accompanists'. Myself, I would almost go further. In Bach it is instruments, and not really the voices, that take the lead. Bach was an `absolute' musician, and it seems to me that his infinite musical faculty found its natural outlet through the wordless medium of instruments. He did not, I venture to think, react to texts as Handel did, or as Schubert did, the texts simply served as the occasions for music. In any case the religious fervour and conviction that breathes through everything Bach ever composed was something that possessed his entire mind and soul. Much of the pietistic verse he set was thin poor stuff, but set against music like this who cares what it amounts to?

It is very rarely indeed that I have expressed any real reservations about the quality of what I have been privileged to listen to, and I have no reason or wish to do so here. The singers seem to combine the insight of veterans with the freshness of newcomers, and the all-important instrumental parts are superbly done on their period instruments. It is surely superfluous to utter platitudes about the stylistic insight and command shown by such a director and such executants. I ended, as the set itself ends, in dulci jubilo, even if I might qualify (hopefully without impiety) the usual SDG.

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