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Bach: Cantatas For The Complete Liturgical Year Vol 7 / Kuijken, La Petite Bande, Et Al

Release Date: 10/28/2008 
Label:  Accent   Catalog #: 25307   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Petra NoskaiováJan Van der CrabbenSiri ThornhillChristoph Genz
Conductor:  Sigiswald Kuijken
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Petite Bande
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.


BACH Cantatas: No. 20; 2,3,4 No. 2; 2,3,4 No. 10 1,3,4 Sigiswald Kuijken, cond; Siri Thornhill (sop); 1 Petra Noskaiová (alt); 2 Read more class="ARIAL12"> Christoph Genz (ten); 3 Jan Van der Crabben (bar); 4 La Petite Bande (period instruments) ACCENT 25307 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 64:46 Text and Translation)

Kuijken presents us with Volume 7 of a projected 20-volume edition of the complete church cantatas due out by 2011. As has been discussed in these pages, he espouses the one-to-a-part doctrine, something I find historically questionable, though by no means out of season; I mean, probably somewhere at some time Bach did indeed have one singer per part, it only goes to reason, performance organization being what it was then, not that different from what it is now. The further question is, did he mean for all of his music to be played in this manner? My cursory reading of music history in general constantly finds composers looking for bigger and greater forces—rarely are they casting their gaze in the other direction. Lamentation after lamentation focuses on the deficiency of performing numbers at hand, almost never that too many people showed up or were available. Hence, even the Bach “revival” that took place ostensibly under Mendelssohn used gargantuan forces with nary a thought about it; Felix probably thought he was doing Bach a posthumous favor by providing him with as many players and singers as he could garner.

So, in general, I refuse to see the era of Bach as an era of chamber music. I firmly believe that he appreciated the idea of a glorious noise as much as any composer before him or since, and that he was probably overjoyed when he could gather enough people to really make a splash, whether in a private setting or in a church. His organ music certainly seems written to take advantage of the largest instrument he could find; dare we think his other music is any different?

Sigiswald Kuijken obviously does. I am inclined to agree with George Chien ( Fanfare 30:5) that one to a part does indeed work. Okay, so big surprise, right? Bach works when stirred and stewed in almost any manner—just look at Stokowski, Carlos, or Payne, just for starters—so it should come as no surprise that these tiny forces work also. Bach is like that, or at least our varied performing practices have rendered him that way. The question here is the musicality of these performances, regardless of who is doing what. On that account these readings are beautifully equipped for the challenge.

O Eternity, thou word of thunder (20) is another chorale cantata belonging to the 1725 Leipzig year composed for the first Sunday after Trinity, and marked the beginning of a new cycle. Bach responds appropriately with a dramatic, theatrical presentation of the text. Ah God! Look down from heaven follows immediately for the very next Trinity Sunday. The 12th Psalm had been reworked by Luther into a hymn, as a contrast to the previous weeks’ more modern opening. This time Bach uses an old-fashioned cantus firmus right from the start, demonstrating the composer’s mastery of the old style. My Soul doth magnify the Lord is from the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was performed only two weeks after BWV 2. It is based on the first chapter of the Lukan gospel where Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, and so provides more than just the typical “Magnificat” that he would set so brilliantly. In order to provide contrast to the Marian emphasis, he here switches to soprano instead of alto, joined by tenor and baritone.

This is a fine recording, as are the others we have covered in the series so far. Each disc is available in surround-sound DSD, and is gloriously recorded for that medium. We are now getting a lot of choices in this repertoire, and the decisions are getting tougher. This one is certainly worth consideration, and then some.

FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter
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Works on This Recording

O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort, BWV 20 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Petra Noskaiová (Alto), Jan Van der Crabben (Bass), Siri Thornhill (Soprano),
Christoph Genz (Tenor)
Conductor:  Sigiswald Kuijken
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Petite Bande
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; Leipzig, Germany 
Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh' darein, BWV 2 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Siri Thornhill (Soprano), Jan Van der Crabben (Bass), Christoph Genz (Tenor),
Petra Noskaiová (Alto)
Conductor:  Sigiswald Kuijken
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Petite Bande
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; Leipzig, Germany 
Meine Seel' erhebt den Herren, BWV 10 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Christoph Genz (Tenor), Petra Noskaiová (Alto), Siri Thornhill (Soprano),
Jan Van der Crabben (Bass)
Conductor:  Sigiswald Kuijken
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Petite Bande
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; Leipzig, Germany 

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