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Bach: Cantatas Vol 22 / Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque


Release Date: 11/14/2006 
Label:  Challenge   Catalog #: 72222   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachWilhelm Friedemann Bach
Performer:  Sandrine PiauNathalie StutzmannJames GilchristKlaus Mertens,   ... 
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque OrchestraAmsterdam Baroque Choir
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

All 22 volumes in this series are on sale now, with the complete 67-CD set at an exceptional price for a limited time.


BACH Cantatas: No. 80; 1,4,6,7 No. 30; 1,4,6,7 No. 30a. 1,4,6,7 Masses: in E, BWV 233; 2,3,7 in A, Read more class="ARIAL12"> BWV 234; 2,3,7 in g, BWV 235; 3,5,7 in G, BWV 236. 2,3,5,7 W. F. BACH Gaudete omnes populi Ton Koopman, cond; Sandrine Piau, 1 Johannette Zomer 2 (sop); Bogna Bartosz, 3 Nathalie Stutzmann 4 (alt); Jörg Dürmüller, 5 James Gilchrist 6 (ten); Klaus Mertens (bs); 7 Amsterdam Baroque O & Ch (period instruments) CHALLENGE 72222 (3 CDs: 199:57 & )


Sports aficionados love to jabber about unbreakable records. Cherished examples are Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in baseball and Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point basketball game (though Wilt preferred his 55-rebound game). Both are unlikely to fall, but both are ultimately vulnerable, as Lou Gehrig’s amazing consecutive game streak proved to be. But there is a category of records that truly can’t be broken. Pro football’s Otto Graham, for example, once completed a 99-yard touchdown pass. It could be (and may have been) tied, but, barring a change in the dimensions of the field, it is eternal.


Now, with the release of this culminating three-disc box (Volume 22), Ton Koopman has made a bid for an unbreakable mark for comprehensive coverage in an integral compilation of the Bach cantatas. Unlike his predecessors, Helmuth Rilling, the Harnoncourt-Leonhardt tandem, and Brilliant Bach’s Pieter Jan Leusink, Koopman’s edition incorporates not only all of the extant sacred cantatas but the known secular cantatas as well—and then some. He’s tossed in five alternate versions of the numbered cantatas: BWV 30a (in the present release), 69a, 120a, 134a, and 173a. Add the Quodlibet , BWV 524, a sinfonia from a lost cantata, BWV 1045, the newly discovered aria, Alles mit Gott , BWV 1127, and the four Latin Missas, not to mention 25 alternate versions of individual numbers from 17 cantatas (including Wilhelm Friedemann’s enhancements for Cantata 80), and you’ve pretty well done it all. The two on-going series, by Suzuki and Gardiner, do not promise to match Koopman’s in completeness. Barring the discovery of a lost cantata or two, Koopman should hold the palm the foreseeable future.


But he did leave some wiggle room. He recorded the secular cantata, BWV 207a, but not BWV 207, from which it was derived with only minimal changes. BWV 207 has been recorded by Schreier and Herreweghe. Omitted are the versions for high voices of Cantata 82 and the Pergolesi parody, BWV 1083, both of which appear in Leusink’s set. Ditto the six Christmas Oratorio cantatas, with which Rilling launched his edition. Koopman judiciously recorded only four of BWV 1127’s 12 strophes, which still run for 16 minutes and change.


Last time, I speculated about whether the spurious cantatas might have been candidates to fill the current and final box, but we now know that was not the case. In retrospect, the Latin Missas were a much more appropriate choice. They are authentically by Bach, most, if not all, of their movements having been derived from the cantatas. Gaudete omnes populi is actually two movements from Papa Bach’s Cantata 80, rescored by Wilhelm Friedemann with added trumpets and kettledrums. If I could change one thing about this final volume, I would put Friedemann’s alterations on the same disc as BWV 80, making it possible for listeners with single-disc players to program a continuous performance of the cantata substituting Friedemann’s enhancements for the originals. But that is a minor complaint about this splendid conclusion of an epic enterprise.


Koopman’s Bach cantata odyssey was a decade long journey, complete with a detour that threatened its survival—the collapse of the original label, Erato. Fortunately for Koopman and his team, but especially for us, he was able to rescue the series from the rubble and bring it to its successful conclusion. In all, there are 214 cantatas in the set, including the alternate versions mentioned above, together with the four masses and the other additions.


Koopman employed 13 different soprano soloists, with Sandrine Piau (29 appearances), Lisa Larsson (27), and Sibylla Rubens (22) doing the heavy lifting. Larsson was the early favorite, but she faded from the scene after the Erato debacle, with Piau gradually assuming the later mantle. Marlis Petersen made only one appearance, but it was in the coloratura Cantata 51. In the alto realm, Koopman used 10 soloists, perhaps surprisingly showing a preference for the female voice. Six women drew 129 assignments, compared with four countertenors in 40 works. By far the favorite was Bogna Bartosz, with 76 appearances. Six tenors shared the honors, with Christoph Prégarden (59) and Paul Agnew (50) drawing the most selections. In a remarkable display of stamina and consistency, Klaus Mertens sang in every piece that required a bass soloist, 190 in all. Donald Barclaw made a cameo appearance in BWV 201, the only cantata that required a second bass soloist.


Despite inevitable changes in personnel over the decade, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and its Chorus remained consistently fresh and alert, due, no doubt, to the unflagging enthusiasm of their leader. One can’t think back over the series without coming to the conclusion that Koopman enjoyed every moment of it. It’s a tribute to his dedication that he has managed to convey that sense of wonder to all of us. It goes without saying that Koopman’s series has been a magnificent achievement, certainly the best choice among the available complete cantata collections. But Suzuki and Gardiner are coming on.


FANFARE: George Chien
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Works on This Recording

1.
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Sandrine Piau (Soprano), Nathalie Stutzmann (Alto), James Gilchrist (Tenor),
Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1744; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
2.
Missa brevis in G major, BWV 236 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass), Bogna Bartosz (Alto), Johannette Zomer (Soprano),
Jörg Dürmüller (Tenor)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1735; Leipzig, Germany 
3.
Freue dich, erlöste Schar, BWV 30 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass), James Gilchrist (Tenor), Bogna Bartosz (Alto),
Sandrine Piau (Soprano)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1738; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
4.
Missa brevis in F major, BWV 233 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Johannette Zomer (Soprano), Bogna Bartosz (Alto), Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1735; Leipzig, Germany 
5.
Missa brevis in A major, BWV 234 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass), Bogna Bartosz (Alto), Johannette Zomer (Soprano)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1735; Leipzig, Germany 
6.
Angenehmes Wiederau, freue dich, BWV 30a by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass), Christoph Prégardien (Tenor), Sandrine Piau (Soprano)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1737; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
7.
Missa brevis in G minor, BWV 235 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass), Jörg Dürmüller (Tenor)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1735; Leipzig, Germany 
Language: German 
8.
Gaudate omnes populi by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: Germany 

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