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Complete Cantatas Box Box set

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Performer: Rilling; Augér; Burns; Nielsen; Friesenhausen; Donath; Reichelt; Wiens; Sonntag; Cuccaro; Hamari; Watts; Gohl; S
  • Composer: Bach J.S.
  • Audio CD (Aug. 30 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 72
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Hae Own
  • ASIN: B004K583KA
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #35,782 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Format: Audio CD
There are a few good Bach cantatas, in my opinion, and this is one of the best ones.

The box set is simple and "budget" but very well organised. It has 60 cds with the sacred cantatas on red discs and 11 cds with
secular cantatas on blue discs. They have a big number making it very easy to find out what you are looking for. They don't call cd one, two etc but volume one, two...
volume 69 is formed by cd 1 and 2 so you have 69 volumes but 70 css.

The 72th disc is a cdrom with texts for all songs , a biography and a complete track list. Texts for songs are in German, English, French and Spanish.
I have mac but the cd rom is for windows. Fortunately, it is not a problem because Hänssler also thought about that. All you need to do is to open the cdrom and look for a pdf for macs. You can copy it to your mac
and you will have all texts, biography and track list. I don't know if the cd rom has content that is accessible only for PCs but it doesn't really matter because all the important stuff
is available in the pdf for macs.

There are also two booklets, one with an introduction to the set and one with a complete track list, which is reproduced in the cd rom , showing
how more considerate Hännsler is than bigger companies such as Deutsche Grammophone.

The technical quality of sound and playing seemed very good to me. The performers are German so the singing is more natural and they don't force
guttural sounds like Gardiner's British performers do.

Unfortunately I made the mistake of ordering from a seller different from Amazon UK itself and my box set arrived looking like it had a previous owner
so I returned it.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
An exceptional performance of a seasoned orchestra and soloists( the beautiful voice of Arleen Auger ( Requiem aeternam) augmented by the choir under the baton of Maestro Helmut Rilling,
A delight to the senses.
Thank you,
N.M. Ruloff
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars 37 reviews
105 of 113 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good set, some caveats Oct. 16 2011
By Kirk McElhearn - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Rilling was not the first to record all the cantatas; Leonhardt and Harnoncourt were, and their set is available relatively cheaply these days, but it features all male singers, meaning that the arias for soprano, sung by boys, vary in quality.

Rilling's set is the antithesis of the HIP approach that L&H took. His is a lush orchestral sound, with a very strong choir. His soloists are often excellent, but two things make this one of the last sets I turn to. (I have 6 complete Cantata sets.) First, Rilling's tempi can be a bit turgid at times; there's is often too much solemnity and not enough joy. Second, the recording process is weird; there is often a soloist on one channel, an obligato instrument (such as a violin or oboe) on the other channel, and the main orchestra in the center. This is especially annoying on headphones.

Gardiner's "Bach cantata pilgrimage" set is far superior in so many ways: more energy, more subtlety, better soloists. Suzuki's soon-to-be-finished-in-a-few-years set on Bis is excellent as well, but sometimes too clean. But I'd take either of them over Rilling any day. At this price, if you're a fan of the cantatas, it's a must-have set, but I wouldn't want this to be the only set one has; Rilling's approach is too limited for such astounding music.
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bach Bargain of the Century Feb. 17 2012
By Johannes Climacus - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The Bach Cantatas unquestionably constitute the greatest single achievement by a single composer within a single genre in the history of Western music (though Haydn's cycle of Quartets runs it a close second in my estimation). If you love classical music, sacred music, and Bach, you must not deprive yourself of the incredible privilege of getting to know this massive achievement. Perhaps even more mind-boggling than the proportion of quality to quantity in this vast output is the realization that there are probably at least a hundred more Cantatas that have not come down to us! If there is a heaven--and it's hard to remain agnostic after a close encounter with these works--then I can only hope that it will be the privilege of blessed Bachians to hear these unknown Cantatas (and anything else the great master might have cobbled together on the slopes of Eternity).

Returning to the present age for the moment, one notes with some dismay that the consolations of great music do not come without a cost--yes, the cost of intellectual effort, but also financial outlay. And it is on this point that Hänssler-Verlag's reissue of Rilling's Cantata Cycle maintains a distinct advantage, whatever it musical merits or vices. With the Secular Cantatas included, along with exhaustive scholarly notes, texts and translations downloadable (and printable) from the CD-Rom included, this is a bargain that no collector can or should resist at the current asking price. Even if you own other other Bach Cantata recordings in abundance, don't pass this up.

The reason is simply that this is the ONLY complete Bach Cantata cycle performed with modern instruments, ample mixed choirs (not a countertenor among them!, and soloists accomplished in traditional (one may even call it "operatic") vocal technique. Admittedly, a series of this magnitude, directed by a single conductor, and recorded over a span of at least two decades, will sometimes fall below expectations. But the standard of accomplishment Rilling has achieved here is consistently high. Though some of the earlier recordings are lacking in rhythmic vitality and favor too much legato phrasing, Rilling's priorities changed perceptibly during the first decade of this project, so that the bulk of these renditions are stylistically aware without being pedantic, energetic without being rushed, expressive without being romanticized. Indeed, if one compares Rilling's "learning curve" to that of Harnoncourt and Leonhardt in *their* pioneering Bach Cantata series--factoring out, for the moment, differences in performance practice priorities--one notes a conspicuous decline in the latter's engagement with the music, whereas one observes the opposite trend in Rilling's cycle. In other words, Harnoncourt/Leonhardt evidently began to lose interest in the project after it was well underway, whereas Rilling's engagement never faltered, but only became more intense over time.

This is obviously not the place to go into a detailed analysis of Rilling's performances. I have been familiar with them, and impressed by them, since the days of vinyl discs. Certain works, particularly the more festive ones, have rarely been surpassed for heady exuberance. One of my fellow reviewers cites BWV 129 as a salient example, and I readily concur. The opening chorus of BWV 100 provides another example of Rilling's ability to convey rapturous joy, and one could also cite the sparkling display of musical fireworks throughout the incomplete, and rarely heard, wedding cantata BWV 195. Rilling also frequently finds the charm in Bach's writing, particularly in those arias with obbligato winds; the delightful bass aria from BWV 123 provides a good example: the "walking bass" really really swings, with something like a detectable "back-beat," while the flute solo enchants the ear with its florid passagework. Finally, I would note that at least one cantata--the well-known BWV 78--receives a rendition that is as close to "definitve" as any recorded Bach Cantata I know. The famous duet zips along with enormous brio, and elsewhere the drama and pathos of this multi-diminsional score are perfectly conveyed.

There are, of course, also interpretive misfires. The monumental opening chorus of BWV 102 bogs down into something of a sodden slog, and the four great choral pillars around which BWV 21 is constructed are similarly earthbound. Occasionally, one finds Rilling insensitive to the affect of text and music, as in his brisk, mechanical treatment of the ineffable chorale setting with which BWV 105 concludes. That movement should begin in anxiety, and proceed through rejoicing to inner quietude; in Rilling's account, it remains boisterous all the way through. I could cite further examples in this vein, but fortunately for prospective purchasers, they are not numerous.

Overall, then, the ratio of successes to failures, both in terms of entire works, and in terms of movements within cantatas, is remarkably high. Of course, that positive outcome has as much to do with the quality of the vocal soloists (Helen Watts Arleen Auger and Phillipe Huttenlocher outstanding among them), choral singing (nice balance, good diction, sometimes too prominent vibrato) and ensemble playing (not quite in the class of Richter's Munich Bach Orchestra,but expert), as with Rilling's intelligent and unfussy direction.

What of the recorded sound? Some of the earlier recordings in the series suffer from a rather shallow "soundstage" which, together with some close spotlighting of instrumental and vocal soloists, can create a cramped or harsh effect. Elsewhere, I noticed a persistent artificial-sounding resonance that might prove distracting on repetition. However, sonic imperfections scarcely detract from Rilling's achievement--the first single conductor to have run the Bach Cantata marathon--and Hänssler's unbelievably low price tag. As with the other reviewers I can only entreat my readers to obtain this bargain box before it becomes history.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bargain Sept. 16 2011
By Teemacs - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Grab this before the sellers change their minds about the price...

Helmuth Rilling was the first person ever to record all the cantatas. He actually didn't set out with this in mind, but it sort of worked out that way. The whole thing took over 20 years to do, and the later performances were more informed by the growing knowledge of and interest in period performance. Nevertheless, these are played on modern instruments with a choir with female singers and using female soloists (including Arleen Auger, who sang in many of them). This, of course, will not appeal to folk who like "authentic" performance, but the fact of the matter is that we can never have truly authentic performance, and it's a delusion to think otherwise. In any case, I have always thought that Bach is music for eternity, to be played in the spirit in which it is written, and not confined to a musical straitjacket.

Rilling was a great Bachian, and this set is outstandingly musical, an absolute joy. I personally regard some of these cantatas to be the best versions available anywhere - ones that come to mind are BWV129, BWV90 and BWV148. The others are also all splendid. They are different from my other sets (complete Gardiner and Leusink, and various Koopman, Suzuki, Werner and Harnoncourt), but every bit as enjoyable. And at this price they're a bargain. If I didn't already have them all, I'd snap this up. Go snapping.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Sept. 27 2011
By mjhobbes - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a marvellous boxed set. It's marvellous on two accounts. Firstly, by listening to a such a collection you realise Bach's enormous achievement: one is continually surprised and delighted by unique strokes of genius - the fecundity of Bach's imagination and invention is truly staggering. Secondly, there is Rilling's achievement in producing an integral collection of such consistency. Naturally, with its production over a span of many years, some evolution in style is evident, most notably in the solo singing, but this does not detract from the quality. Rilling's interpretations are sympathetic and are always sensitive to the words, so important in the Bach cantatas. There are many brilliant performances of the obligato instrumental parts and in the continuo. Last but not least, the chorus sound is consistently good: various choruses have been used, but in none of them have I detected that unpleasant squeezed-up, dry-as-dust singing that that seems to be strangely fashionable; at the same time, Rilling's choral forces are fully able to tackle fleet or coloratura passages at least on a par with the best.

This is an Amazon bargain not to be missed and could seriously enrich your musical life!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Time Bach Cantata Listener Sept. 3 2012
By J.S. Bach Fan - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have been listening to Bach Cantatas since 1976, so 36 years. Over the years I have been very fortunate to be able to listen about 4-10 hours per day, almost every day. I listen about 98% of my time to the Cantatas. Thank God for CDs. They are easier than changing tapes. I had a professor who said once that, "Just think. Until 50 years ago you might only be able to hear a piece of music once in your life!!" I have been to Leipzig, Germany but I would have to live there for my entire life if there were not CDs!

I had a job that allowed me to listen to Johnny for hours at a time. Then when I got home at night and on the weekends I literally would listen for hours and hours at a time. I must have heard the Saint Matthew Passion a hundred times, maybe more. I do not speak German, I just enjoy the music!

Anyway I thought that over the years I had purchased the majority of the Cantatas. Then I sat down and figured it out that I still needed to purchase about 100 more. I could not believe that I had not heard that many of Johnny's Cantatas. But it was true.

I buy most of my things on Amazon and so when I saw the Rilling complete Cantatas I bought them. They are wonderful. So many Cantatas are new to me, which is wonderful. They are not that expensive, compared to purchasing them on individual disks.

One of things that I really like about the Rilling is that I can really hear the harpsichord. Sometimes my other versions substitute a piano!! which is a big no no.
So I recommend this set very highly.

Update--April 11, 2013
Well I have listened to each CD at least 5-10 times since I bought the set. The music is SO WONDERFUL and the Conductor and orchestra members are so great!!. I constantly enjoy JSB's Cantatas.

I find it so hard to believe that one can buy all this joy for $65.00 !!!

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