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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
JS and CPE Bach Ascension CantatasJan. 19 2008
Arnold L. Weisenberg
- Published on Amazon.com
A rarity - a stunning performance, especially of the JS Bach BWV 11. In addition, the video is well done, dynamically moving through orchestra, leader, soloists and locale. A "must have" for Bach Cantata, La Petite Bande, or Kuijken fans. Kuijken/Petite Bande fans should also own the 3 JS Bach violin concerti on CD.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
C.P.E. Bach tricentennial just ahead (March 8, 1714)Feb. 22 2014
- Published on Amazon.com
This is almost the only CPE Bach concert available on video, but I am happy to report it is generally excellent, both musically and technically. There are a few faults for which I would not deduct any stars, given the overall excellence of the production and the hard work of all involved--but I will mention them in case there are any newcomers who would like an opinion, and also to hopefully encourage people (i.e. concert producers) to avoid mistakes in the future.
1. The use of a historic, apparently un-restored bassoon as a centerpiece solo instrument here is slightly strange. That is, in my opinion of course. It's unattractive both visually and aurally, and furthermore, it cannot keep up with the conductor's tempo (and the conductor appears oblivious). I am sure the bassoonist is proficient in his art, the limitation being in the instrument, not the musician. But one cannot just unearth an old fossil out of some archeological dig and plop it on the stage ... it needs to be gone over with an old toothbrush or something. And if perchance there is something unusual or unique about it, that it should be showcased, please mention it somewhere.
2. There are a couple of historic long heraldic trumpets used, with drapery attached a la Disney ... and I would sorely like to see these musicians close up and watch them manipulate these horns! But I think the cameraman was trained in the Lawrence Welk tradition, only zooming onto the bell of the instrument as if that were somehow the source of all musical fascination. In the several movements where brass is used, we continue to get extensive video coverage of the conductor (of course), and the violins, the f-holes, the bows sawing back and forth, the harpsichordist's fingers, the choir from one end to the other, even the church ceiling ... but only a few split-seconds, literally, of the trumpets (and generally only on the bell). Surely, this is not satisfying video direction when trumpets are used so rarely in period-instrument concerts.
3. Whereas the C.P.E. Bach oratorio was pure joy to watch, the J.S. Bach oratorio which followed is anticlimactic. First we are going backwards in time some 40 years. That is not the way to plan a program, the chronologically earlier piece will sound weak by comparison. The J.S. Bach piece does not even use chorus--they have all gone home. We have only the 4 soloists, which just makes the J.S. Bach piece sound all the weaker, not at all fair to the composer. Solution: program the chronologically earlier piece first, especially if it's also for smaller ensemble!
Quibbles aside, it's an excellent video, with excellent sound, of excellent music, and highly recommended.
The only other recordings of C.P.E. Bach on video I know of are (1) a single symphony performed by Il Giardino Armonico, along with some J.S. Bach and Vivaldi, and (2) 'Flute Concertos at Sansoucci - A Tribute to Frederick the Great', including one of CPE's flute concerti. Check out my other reviews and Happy CPE Bach 300th Birthday to all!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Genz Brothers shine in the first of two stunning sets of performances.Jan. 9 2014
- Published on Amazon.com
The programme consists of two works, both on the Ascension of Christ. The first one belongs to the son Carl Emmanuel Bach, his Ascension Oratorio, a longer and more elaborate work. It is performed here with an orchestra, chorus and three soloists, soprano, tenor and baritone. Sigiswald Kuijken conducts his Petite Band, playing very effectively and blending perfectly with the choir. The real gems, however, are the soloists' performances. The soprano sings beautifully, both in solo and in duet with the tenor. But the real gems are the tenor and baritones' singing, by the Genz brothers Christoph (tenor) and Stephan (baritone). The lion's share of arias fall into the baritone's lot, and Stephan Genz owns a gorgeous voice and sings with great affectation. The tenor part sung by elder brother Christoph, however, is the one that stole the show. Elsewhere we have found Christoph Genz's timbre to be too light for lyrical roles. However, singing oratorios' tenor parts, this singer shows his real expertise. Both in recitative, in duet or in solo pieces Christoph Genz shone, singing with wonderful articulation, acute musicality and complete conviction of every word he sings (this is no small feat for a religious work). The second work belongs to old dad Johann Sebastian, his Ascension Oratorio BWV 11, which is a relatively shorter piece and smaller-scaled. Here, Kuijken did not engage a chorus. Rather, the soloists S, T, B and A. formed a small ensemble, with the S. and A. singing solo pieces. Particularly outstanding in the group is the alto soloist. Kuijken conducts this piece playing the first violin himself. The camera work of this DVD is first rate, so is the venue and sound accoustics. Unreservedly recommended.