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Bach: Cantatas Vol 41 / Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan


Release Date: 11/25/2008 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1691   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Masaaki SuzukiCarolyn SampsonPeter Kooy
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

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BACH Cantatas: No. 56; 2 No. 82; 1 No. 158; 2 No. 84 1 Masaaki Suzuki, cond; Carolyn Sampson (sop); 1 Peter Kooij Read more (bs); 2 Bach Collegium Japan (period instruments) BIS 1691 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 64:04 Text and Translation)


Suzuki is in overdrive with Volume 41 of the complete Bach cantatas now reaching the public, this one dedicated to solo voices. Three of the works here (BWV 56, 82, 84) were written during a one-year period, the composer’s fourth year in Leipzig, and a very hectic one. Eight cantatas for solo voice and orchestra were completed during this time, of which these three are part. The last one, BWV 158, remains a breed apart, and harder to categorize.


“I shall willingly carry the cross” (BWV 56) is one of many post-Trinity cantatas, and this one focuses on the theme of suffering in the Christian life. There are ample opportunities in the text for some suggestive word-painting, as in the figuration from the cello in the second movement that speaks of a Christian’s life as a voyage by ship; and the final recitative mentions arrival at the “port” of rest in a very direct and appealing work whose texts no doubt spoke very directly to the Leipzig congregation.


“I am content” ( Ich habe genug , BWV 82) is one of the most popular and famous of all the Bach cantatas. It was written for the feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary (Feb. 2) in 1727, and has been recorded many times by many different and stylistically varied artists. Here we have the E-Minor soprano version, sung with plaintive expression and resigned temperament by Carolyn Sampson in a reading that I think almost equals that of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson on a not-too-distant Nonesuch recording. Bach originally intended this piece for mezzo-soprano, as the first solo part is written with the alto clef; later he changed his mind (and the clef) and went with a bass line, but subsequent copies show that the work was probably performed by soprano as well, as the E-Minor part for soprano showed up in 1731, and the obbligato wind part (intended for oboe) for this soprano version is given to the flute. This is the version used here, though Suzuki has recorded the bass version as well in Volume 38.


“I am content with my happiness” (BWV 84) was written for Septuagesima Sunday (third to the last Sunday before Lent—dropped from the parlance of the Roman Catholic Church since Vatican II, still kept in the Lutheran churches), and focuses on the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew). The language of the texts remains direct and alert, while the music is supple and dance-like, with an especially noticeable second aria where the violin and oboe spar with one another.


“May peace be with you” (BWV 158) is somewhat problematic as to origin, as the only copies are from the late 18th century. It seems to have been conceived for Easter Tuesday and the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. The texts appear to belie that assertion however, as they refer to both celebrations in the same piece, and may well have been assembled by a post-Bach compiler, obviously not paying a lot of attention. The second movement call-and-response imitative dialogue between soprano and bass make for an interesting feature of this unusual and quite lovely work.


Consistency is the hallmark of this series, and the SACD sound is brilliantly conceived, maybe the best of any of the ongoing series ( maybe ); the excellence continues, and if you are riding this train, I see no reason to get off now.


FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter
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Works on This Recording

1. Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen, BWV 56 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Masaaki Suzuki (Harpsichord), Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Peter Kooy (Bass)
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; Leipzig, Germany 
2. Ich habe genug, BWV 82 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Masaaki Suzuki (Harpsichord), Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Peter Kooy (Bass)
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727; Cöthen, Germany 
3. Der Friede sei mit dir, BWV 158 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Masaaki Suzuki (Harpsichord), Peter Kooy (Bass), Carolyn Sampson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1723; Leipzig, Germany 
4. Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Glücke, das mir der liebe Gott beschert, BWV 84 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Peter Kooy (Bass), Masaaki Suzuki (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727; Leipzig, Germany 

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