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The Sacred Apocryphal Bach / Helbich, Alsfelder Vokalensemble [8-CD Set]

Bach / Barockorchester Bremen / Helbich
Release Date: 02/25/2014 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777878   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachJohann Ludwig Bach
Performer:  Mona SpägeleHarry Van BerneStephan SchreckenbergerChristiane Iven,   ... 
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bremen Baroque OrchestraAlsfelder Vocal EnsembleGesualdo Consort,   ... 
Number of Discs: 8 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BACH (attr.) THE SACRED APOCRYPHAL BACH Wolfgang Helbich, cond; Alsfelder Vocal Ens; various performers CPO 777 878-2 (8 CDs: 432: 03 Text and Translation)


BACH (attr.) Cantatas, BWV 217–222 Wolfgang Helbich, cond; Johanna Koslowsky (sop); Kai Wessel (alt); Harry Geraerts Read more (ten); Phillip Langshaw (bs); Alsfelder Vocal Ens; Steintor Barock Bremen CPO 999 139-2 (2 CDs: 101:27 Text and Translation)


BACH (attr.) Motets, BWV Anh. 159, 160, 162–165 Wolfgang Helbich, cond; Alsfelder Vocal Ens CPO 999 235-2 (55:27 Text and Translation)


BACH (attr.) St. Luke Passion, BWV 246 Wolfgang Helbich, cond; Rufus Müller ( Evangelist ); Stephan Schreckenberger ( Jesus ); Mona Spägele (sop); Christiane Iven (alt); Harry van Berne (ten); Marcus Sandmann (bs); Alsfelder Vocal Ens; Barockorchester Bremen CPO 999 293-2 (2 CDs: 106:17 Text and Translation)


BACH (attr.) Masses, BWV Anh. 25 and 26. Magnificat, BWV Anh. 21 Wolfgang Helbich, cond; Dorothee Mields (sop); Henning Voss (alt); Henning Kaiser (ten); Ralf Grobe (bs); Alsfelder Vocal Ens; I Febiarmonici CPO 999 834-2 (51:47 Text and Translation)


BACH (attr.) Cantatas, BWV 15, 141, 142, 160 Wolfgang Helbich, cond; Dorothee Mields (sop); Henning Voss (alt); Henning Kaiser (ten); Ralf Grobe (bs); Alsfelder Vocal Ens; I Febiarmonici CPO 999 985-2 (58:48 Text and Translation)


BACH (attr.) Cantata, BWV 150. Magnificat, BWV Anh. 30. Masses, BWV Anh. 24 and 167. Sanctus, BWV 237, 239, and 240 Wolfgang Helbich, cond; Bremen Musikhochschule Solo Qrt; Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam; Alsfelder Vocal Ens; Hannover Hofkapelle CPO 777 561-2 (58:17 Text and Translation)


Conductor Wolfgang Helbich died of a stroke on his 70th birthday, on April 8, 2013. Here, CPO has assembled (by simple virtue of an outer cardboard box around the original separate releases) the six sets of eight CDs comprising Helbich’s project of recording vocal works once attributed to Bach but now (with two exceptions) generally considered to be spurious or dubious, or now definitely known to be by another composer. The dates of the recordings span 1991 to 2009 and are listed above in their original order of release. Three of them were previously reviewed in these pages: the two-CD set of cantatas by George Chien in 16:2, the St. Luke Passion by Ralph V. Lucano in 21:1, and the second disc of masses and mass movements by yours truly in 36:2. All of those performances were highly praised, and that praise is equally applicable to the other three discs in the series as well.


Given the detailed coverage given to three of the releases, I will confine myself here to an overview of the set as a whole, with a few specific comments on the three discs not previously covered. First, a scorecard of current attributions, if any, of the various compositions, in order of the sets listed above and using their front tray card titles:




Apocryphal Bach Cantatas:


BWV 217, 220, and 221—Anonymous


BWV 218 and 219—Georg Philipp Telemann


BWV 222—Johann Ernst Bach (1722–1777)


Apocryphal Bach Motets:


BWV Anh. 159—authentic J. S. Bach


BWV Anh. 160—Georg Philipp Telemann, portions reworked by Bach


BWV Anh. 162—Georg Gottfried Wagner (1698–1756)


BWV Anh. 163—Bach “di Eisenach”—unknown; possibly Johann Ernst Bach?


BWV Anh. 164—Johann Christoph Altnickol (1719/20–1759)


BWV Anh. 165—Johann Ernst Bach


Apocryphal St. Luke Passion:


BWV 246, Anh. II 30—unknown; possibly Johann Melchior Molter (1696–1765)


Apocryphal Bach Masses (and Magnificat):


BWV Anh. 21 (Magnificat)—Georg Melchior Hoffmann (c. 1679–1715)


BWV Anh. 25—unknown; Italianate in style, probably by a Neapolitan composer


BWV Anh. 26—Francesco Durante (1684–1755), revised by Bach


Apocryphal Bach Cantatas II:


BWV 15—Johann Ludwig Bach (1677–1731)


BWV 141 and BWV 160—Georg Philipp Telemann


BWV 142—unknown; possibly Johann Kuhnau (1660–1722)


Apocryphal Bach Masses II:


BWV 150 (Cantata)—authentic J. S. Bach


BWV Anh. 24 (Mass)—Johann Christoph Pez (1664–1716)


BWV Anh. 167 (Mass)—unknown


BWV Anh. 30 (Magnificat)—unknown


BWV 237, 239, and 240 (Sanctus movements)—unknown


Second, a few remarks on the three previously unreviewed discs. The unaccompanied motets all set German texts; the most substantial in terms of length are BWV Anh. 160 and BWV Anh. 163. For the latter, the suggestion of Johann Ernst Bach (the son of a second cousin of J. S. Bach) as the most likely of the Eisenach Bach clan to be the work’s author is mine, on the grounds that he personally studied with J. S. Bach, who copied out two other works by him listed above, including another motet. The one apocryphal motet that sounds most like an authentic piece by J. S. Bach, however, is BWV Anh. 164 of Johann Christoff Altnickol, a son-in-law of J. S. Bach who served as organist at the Wenzelkirche in Naumburg until his untimely death. Georg Gottfried Wagner was a pupil of J. S. Bach and of Bach’s predecessor in Leipzig, Johann Kuhnau. Like Altnickol, he obtained a lifetime appointment on the strength of a recommendation from his teacher, in Wagner’s case as Kantor to the Johanniskirche in Plauen. Only one other composition of his besides this motet is known to have survived.


Regarding the two apocryphal masses, it beggars belief that anyone would have thought either one to be by Bach given how obviously Italian they are in compositional style, though in the case of BWV Anh. 26 Bach did make some emendations to the score, particularly in the Kyrie. Francesco Durante was a Neapolitan composer of sacred music and a noted pedagogue (particularly notorious for his insistence that all his students rigidly adhere to a single unvarying set of compositional rules) who successively taught at the Conservatorio di Sant’ Onofrio and the Conservatorio di Santa Maria di Loreto. For his part, Georg Melchior Hoffmann studied first in Dresden and then in Leipzig, where he succeeded Telemann as director of the famed Collegium Musicum which J. S. Bach also would later head. During his short life-span he was both quite prolific and highly regarded. As with the apocryphal motets, his Magnificat lies squarely within the stylistic confines of the late German Baroque. As for the second disc of apocryphal cantatas, Johann Ludwig Bach was an uncle of J. S. Bach. Both the BWV 15 cantata now attributed to him, and the BWV 142 that is possibly by Bach’s Leipzig predecessor Kuhnau, exemplify the less elaborate compositional style of the generation before Bach, whereas the works by Telemann bear all the hallmarks of that composer’s sophisticated and more eclectic musical palette.


Each set within this compilation has its own booklet with CPO’s usual copious notes, artist biographies, and complete original texts with English translations. Aside from being a posthumous tribute to Helbich, however, one must also wonder if the issuance of this set also signals the end of CPO’s Apocryphal Bach project. One hopes that is not the case, for there still remain some items to be covered that could all fit onto one or two CDs. Using the Teldec Complete Bach Edition that I reviewed in 36:2 as a guide, still eligible for inclusion in this series are:


- Cantatas BWV 53 and 189 (both composed by Georg Melchior Hoffmann);


- Cantata fragments BWV 216, 223, and 224;


- Motet BWV 231 (a contrafactum of the second movement of the Cantata BWV 28, presumed to be by another hand);


- Miscellaneous fragments BWV 1081 (an introduction to a Credo by Giovanni Battista Bassani), 1082 (an adaptation of a Magnificat by Antonio Caldara), 1083 (a transcription of a Stabat mater by Giovanni Pergolesi), and 1088 (a bass arioso contributed by Bach to a Passion pastiche, the majority of it composed by Carl Heinrich Graun but also including movements by Telemann, Kuhnau, and Altnickol).


In any case, this entire set deserves a warm recommendation, which I am happy to provide.

FANFARE: James A. Altena
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Works on This Recording

1.
Siehe, es hat überwunden der Löwe, BWV 219 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bremen Baroque Orchestra,  Alsfelder Vocal Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
2.
Gott der Hoffnung erfüllte euch, BWV 218 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bremen Baroque Orchestra,  Alsfelder Vocal Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
3.
Gedenke, Herr, wie es uns gehet, BWV 217 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bremen Baroque Orchestra,  Alsfelder Vocal Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
4.
Mass in G major [formerly attributed to J. S. Bach, BWV Anh. 167] by Johann Ludwig Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gesualdo Consort,  Hannover Hofkapelle,  Bremen University Of The Arts Solo Quartet
5.
Sanctus in G major, BWV 240 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gesualdo Consort,  Hannover Hofkapelle,  Bremen University Of The Arts Solo Quartet
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1730s; Leipzig, Germany 
6.
Sanctus in D minor, BWV 239 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gesualdo Consort,  Hannover Hofkapelle,  Bremen University Of The Arts Solo Quartet
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1730s; Leipzig, Germany 
7.
Sanctus in C major, BWV 237 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gesualdo Consort,  Hannover Hofkapelle,  Bremen University Of The Arts Solo Quartet
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Leipzig, Germany 
8.
Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich, BWV 150 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gesualdo Consort,  Hannover Hofkapelle,  Bremen University Of The Arts Solo Quartet
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1708-1709; Cöthen, Germany 
9.
Mass in A minor, BWV Anh. 24 [doubtful] by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gesualdo Consort,  Hannover Hofkapelle,  Bremen University Of The Arts Solo Quartet
10.
Magnificat in C major, BWV Anh. 30 [doubtful] by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gesualdo Consort,  Hannover Hofkapelle,  Bremen University Of The Arts Solo Quartet
11.
Jauchzet dem Herrn, alle Welt, BWV Anh. 160 [by Telemann, TWV 8:10, not JSB] by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alsfeld Vocal Ensemble
Date of Recording: 03/1993 
Language: German 
12.
Unser Wandel ist im Himmel, BWV Anh. 165 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alsfeld Vocal Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 03/1993 
Language: German 
13.
Nun danket alle Gott, BWV Anh. 164 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alsfeld Vocal Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 03/1993 
Language: German 
14.
Ich lasse dich nicht, BWV Anh. 159 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alsfeld Vocal Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 03/1993 
Language: German 
15.
Merk auf, mein Herz und sieh dorthin, BWV Anh. 163 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alsfeld Vocal Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 03/1993 
Language: German 
16.
Lob und Ehre und Weisheit, BWV Anh. 162 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alsfeld Vocal Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 03/1993 
Language: German 
17.
Saint Luke Passion, BWV 246 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Mona Spägele (Soprano), Harry Van Berne (Tenor), Stephan Schreckenberger (Bass),
Christiane Iven (Alto), Marcus Sandmann (Bass), Rufus Müller (Tenor)
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alsfeld Vocal Ensemble,  Bremen Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 1996 
Length: 106 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Language: German 
18.
Uns ist ein Kind geboren, BWV 142 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Dorothee Mields (Soprano), Henning Kaiser (Tenor), Henning Voss (Countertenor),
Ralf Grobe (Bass)
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alsfeld Vocal Ensemble,  I Febiarmonici
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century; ?Leipzig, Germany 
19.
Das ist je gewisslich wahr, BWV 141 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Henning Voss (Countertenor), Henning Kaiser (Tenor), Ralf Grobe (Bass),
Dorothee Mields (Soprano)
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alsfeld Vocal Ensemble,  I Febiarmonici
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century; Germany 
20.
Denn du wirst meine Seele nicht in der Höllo lassen, BWV 15 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Henning Kaiser (Tenor), Henning Voss (Countertenor), Ralf Grobe (Bass),
Dorothee Mields (Soprano)
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alsfeld Vocal Ensemble,  I Febiarmonici
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1710; ?Leipzig, Germany 
21.
Ich weiss dass mein Erlöser lebt , BWV 160 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Dorothee Mields (Soprano), Henning Kaiser (Tenor), Henning Voss (Countertenor),
Ralf Grobe (Bass)
Conductor:  Wolfgang Helbich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alsfeld Vocal Ensemble,  I Febiarmonici
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1725; Leipzig, Germany 

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