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Bach: Trauerode BWV 198, Cantate BWV 78 / Herreweghe Et Al

Release Date: 09/09/2008 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 501270   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Charles BrettIngrid SchmithüsenPeter KooyHoward Crook
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Chapelle Royale Paris
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 58 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Two cantatas, one secular, one sacred, each concerned in very different ways with respect for one who has died, show how Bach treated musically the emotional aspects of text and occasion. Obviously, the death of a revered monarch was a solemn event that deserved appropriately respectful expression, including personal acknowledgement of the depth of the survivors' grief. The Cantata BWV 198, commonly known as "Trauerode" (funeral ode), was written to commemorate the life and grieve the death of Christiane, Electress of Saxony, who became Queen of Poland but remained a Lutheran despite her husband's conversion to Roman Catholicism. This relatively expansive cantata, from which Bach later borrowed music for his St. Mark Passion Read more (opening and closing choruses and three arias), is rich in the uniquely Bachian mannerisms of mourning, its colorful minor-key harmonies and extended arias crafted for maximum emotional impact. The Cantata BWV 78 is based on the chorale tune "Jesu, der du meine Seele", and concerns a sinner's plea for salvation through the redemptive power of Christ's crucifixion. Besides Bach's skillful passacaglia-like treatment of the chorale in the opening chorus, this work also features a duet ("We hasten with feeble but eager steps") whose surprisingly literal depiction of the text sounds almost like a polka! This reissue from Harmonia Mundi, part of the label's commemoration of the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, is just as musically solid, authoritative, and satisfying as it was at its original 1988 release. The instrumental playing is superb, and soloists Ingrid Schmithüsen, Charles Brett, Howard Crook, and Peter Kooy are particularly engaging in the arias. Conductor Philippe Herreweghe keeps a sensible pace throughout--no speed contests--but goes a little heavy on the downbeats in the opening chorus of BWV 198 (homage to Harnoncourt?). There's lots of competition from other labels, given the big anniversary next year, but Harmonia Mundi felt confident enough of this version that there was no need to offer a newly minted replacement--and you should feel the same.

-- David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com [1999]
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Works on This Recording

Lass, Fürstin, lass noch einen Strahl, BWV 198 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Charles Brett (Countertenor), Ingrid Schmithüsen (Soprano), Peter Kooy (Bass),
Howard Crook (Tenor)
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Chapelle Royale Paris
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Ingrid Schmithüsen (Soprano), Peter Kooy (Bass), Howard Crook (Tenor),
Charles Brett (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Chapelle Royale Paris
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; Leipzig, Germany 

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