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Bach: Cantatas, Bwv 22, 23, 182

Bach,J.s. / Gewandhausorchester / Biller
Release Date: 03/25/2014 
Label:  Rondeau Productions   Catalog #: 4044   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Hymnorum, Anonymous, F. sJohann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Matthias WeichertPatrick GrahlJakob [Boy Soprano] FeyerJohannes [Boy Soprano] Hildebrandt
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BACH Cantatas Nos. 22; 1 23; 2 182. 3 3 Hymns Georg Christoph Biller, cond; 1 Paul Bernewitz, 2 Johannes Hildebrandt, 2 Jakob Feyer (trb); 1 Stefan Kahle; Read more class="SUPER12">2,3 Jakob Wetzig, 2 Henrik Weimann (alt); 1,3 Patrick Grahl, 2,3 Tobias Hunger (ten); 2,3 Gotthold Schwarz, 1,2 Matthias Weichert (bs); Thomanerchor Leipzig; Gewandhausorchester RONDEAU 4044 (70:14 Text and Translation)

BACH Cantatas Nos. 4; 1 31; 2 67 3. BILLER St.-Thomas-Ostermusik. 4 3 Hymns 4 Georg Christoph Biller, cond; 1 Paul Bernewitz, 2 Johannes Hildebrandt, 1 Friedrich Praetorius (trb); 1,2 Stefan Kahle; 3,4 Jakob Wetzig (alt); 2 Tobias Hunger, 1,3,4 Martin Petzold, 4 Robert Pohler (ten); 2 Andreas Scheibner, 1 Gotthold Schwarz, 3 Matthias Weichert, 4 Julius Sattler (bs); Thomanerchor Leipzig; Gewandhausorchester RONDEAU 4045 (76:15 Text and Translation)

By the time you read this, Rondeau’s 10-disc series of Bach’s cantatas should be complete and available, but it’s possible now to make a few generalizations about the set. First, the Thomanerchor: world-renowned, all-male, relatively large, superbly trained and disciplined. The Gewandhausorchester: world class; modern instruments, top-flight soloists, plays weekly concerts with the choir. Soloists: boys from the choir, men often have ties to the choir or to Leipzig. The men are excellent for the most part; the boys can be an uneven lot. Direction: Cantor Georg Christoph Biller, the current successor to J. S. Bach, is of necessity a Bach specialist. His interpretive outlook is current, but mainstream. Biller introduces each cantata with a congregational hymn (sung by a select choir). A cathedral ambience prevails in the recordings, which are individually and collectively worth hearing.

The current releases are representative of the series. There’s a historical oddity about their programming: Five of the six cantatas were written before Bach was established in Leipzig. Since Leipzig traditionally had its major musical event on Good Friday, Bach’s only existing Easter composition from Leipzig is the Easter Oratorio . BWV 4, one of his earliest and best-loved cantatas, was composed in Mühlhausen; Nos. 13 and 182 in Weimar. Cantatas 22 and 23 were test pieces for Bach’s application for the Leipzig post while he was still in Cöthen. Both had their first performances in Leipzig, and all of the earlier cantatas were eventually performed there as well.

Readers may recall that I’ve often had reservations about the boy sopranos in earlier reviews of this set. Surprise! I was transfixed by the singing of treble Paul Bernewitz and countertenor Stefan Kahle in their Cantata 4 duet. And treble Friedrich Praetoruis and tenor Martin Petzold were nearly as impressive in their duet. Both Bernewitz and Praetorius are veterans of this series, but neither has sounded quite as right as they are here, where they contribute substantially to the success of the enterprise. Christ lag in Todesbanden has long been one of my favorite cantatas, and this one is as good as it gets.

I must take note of another surprise—not so happy—on the Easter disc, namely Biller’s St.-Thomas-Ostermusik . It’s an 18-minute piece for soloists, choir, organ, three cellos, and percussion. Maybe you had to be there. Following immediately after Cantata 4, it seemed out of place, and I confess that the second time I listened to the disc I used the advance button to get to Cantata 31. With apologies to Cantor Biller, I’ll give it another try when I have a little more leisure time. Meanwhile, enjoy the Bach.

FANFARE: George Chien
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Works on This Recording

Huc me sidero by Hymnorum, Anonymous, F. s
Venue:  Thomaskirche Leipzig 
Length: 1 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe, BWV 22 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Matthias Weichert (), Patrick Grahl ()
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Cöthen, Germany 
Venue:  Thomaskirche Leipzig 
Length: 17 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Eheu, quam scelerum by Hymnorum, Anonymous, F. s
Venue:  Thomaskirche Leipzig 
Length: 1 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn, BWV 23 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jakob [Boy Soprano] Feyer (Boy Soprano), Johannes [Boy Soprano] Hildebrandt (Boy Soprano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Cöthen, Germany 
Venue:  Thomaskirche Leipzig 
Length: 17 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Vexilla regis by Hymnorum, Anonymous, F. s
Venue:  Thomaskirche Leipzig 
Length: 1 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Himmelskönig sei willkommen, BWV 182 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1714; Cöthen, Germany 
Venue:  Thomaskirche Leipzig 
Length: 30 Minutes 23 Secs. 

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