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Bach: Actus Tragicus, Bwv 21 / Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque

Release Date: 10/14/2008 
Label:  Challenge   Catalog #: 72289   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kai WesselGuy de MeyTon KoopmanKlaus Mertens,   ... 
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque OrchestraAmsterdam Baroque Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BACH Cantatas: No. 198; 1 No. 131 2 Ton Koopman, cond; Lisa Larsson (sop); 1 Elisabeth von Magnus (alt); 1 Paul Agnew (ten); 1 Guy de Mey (ten); 2 Klaus Mertens (bs); 1,2 Amsterdam Baroque O & Ch (period instruments) Read more CHALLENGE 72286 (60:38)
See album Bach: Funeral Cantatas Bwv 198, 131 / Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque

BACH Cantatas: No. 49; 1 No. 60; 2 No. 140; 3 No. 59 4 Ton Koopman, cond; Sybilla Rubens (sop); 1 Sandrine Piau (sop); 3 Ruth Ziesak (sop); 4 Bogna Bartosz (alt); 2 Jörg Dürmuller (ten); 2 James Gilchrist (ten); 3 Klaus Mertens (bs); 1–4 Amsterdam Baroque O & Ch (period instruments) CHALLENGE 72288 (73:06)
See album Bach: Dialogue Cantatas Vol 1 / Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque

BACH Cantatas No. 106, “Actus tragicus”; No. 21 Ton Koopman, cond; Barbara Schlick (sop); Elisabeth von Magnus (alt); Guy de Mey (ten); Klaus Mertens (bs); Amsterdam Baroque O & Ch (period instruments) CHALLENGE 72289 (61:01)

Here are three more discs of cantatas culled from Koopman’s complete edition. (Challenge 72287 may have gotten lost in the shuffle, but I hope not permanently.) These discs are like Fritos corn chips (or is it Lays potato chips?). You simply can’t stop after you’ve sampled one. Believe me, I’ve just tried (and I’ll let you guess whether I was eating a chip or listening to a CD—or both). These discs are loaded. The Funeral Cantatas Nos. 198 and 131 (including the “Actus Tragicus,” BWV 106) are Bach at his most powerful and poignant, rarely matched, except perhaps by Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis , BWV 21, one of Bach’s own favorites. The Dialogue Cantatas (on the second CD listed above) are another matter. In Cantata 140 the bass represents the bridegroom, Jesus, and the soprano his bride, the church. Their two sensuous duets border on the erotic. Clearly, given the opportunity, Bach could have written an opera. The central movement of No. 140 resurfaced as one of the Schübler chorales for organ. Cantata 49 opens exuberantly with two movements from a lost concerto, possibly for oboe, here assigned to the organ and undoubtedly first played by the composer himself. In this cantata, the bass again represents Jesus, but the soprano embodies the Soul. In Cantata 60 the voices represent Fear (alto), Hope (tenor), and again Jesus (bass). The concluding chorale setting is so striking that Alban Berg quoted it, note-for-note, in his violin concerto. In such company, one might be tempted to relegate BWV 59 to the status of a throw-in. But brief as it is, it has a fine opening duet for bass (Jesus) and soprano (the Soul). The concluding chorale is missing from the autograph score. Presumably a chorale for which parts were readily available was sung at the first performance, so Koopman has chosen a suitable surrogate.

As expected, Koopman’s performances leave little to be desired. A minor drawback is the absence of texts and translations. Anyone who wants to get a taste of what the Bach cantatas are all about could profitably start with any of these three discs. But if you do, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

FANFARE: George Chien
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Works on This Recording

Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste, BWV 106 "Actus tragicus" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kai Wessel (Countertenor), Guy de Mey (Tenor), Ton Koopman (Organ),
Klaus Mertens (Bass), Barbara Schlick (Soprano)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708; Mühlhausen, Germany 
Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Ton Koopman (Organ), Klaus Mertens (Bass), Barbara Schlick (Soprano)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1714; Cöthen, Germany 

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