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Bach: The Sacred Masterworks / Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan, Et Al

Release Date: 11/25/2008 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 9020/2   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Robin BlazePeter KooyCarolyn SampsonRachel Nicholls,   ... 
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Number of Discs: 10 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A beautifully packaged set of the critical acclaimed recordings by Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan, of the Sacred Masterworks of J.S. Bach., and a spectacular deal at 10 discs for the price of 3.

The ongoing cantata cycle of Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan was initiated in 1995. Described by one reviewer as ‘one of the greatest recording achievements of my lifetime’ the series has now reached its 40th volume, in the meantime receiving an astonishing number of distinctions from magazines and critics all over the world. But parallell to their cantata cycle, Suzuki and his Collegium have also recorded Bach’s larger-scaled choral works; recordings which have caught the imagination and attention of audiences
Read more and critics alike. This luxurious box, released in a limited edition, provides a unique opportunity to acquire these as a set: a true collector’s item. Besides the ten CDs with the music, the set consists of three full-sized booklets (Mass, Passions, Oratorios) giving ample information about the works and the performers, as well as the full texts (in Latin/German as well as English) of all six works.

This performance of the B minor Mass has everything: great playing, sensational singing from the soloists and chorus, ideal pacing, and a powerful feeling for the character of each movement as well as for the architecture of the whole massive musical edifice. Although Suzuki uses relatively small forces (18 singers, 11 strings), he never compromises the grandeur of such movements as the Sanctus, the opening of the Gloria, or the Credo's final Et expecto--and the concluding Dona nobis pacem must be accounted one of the most satisfying ever recorded. Taken a touch slower than the Gratias, whose music it shares, Suzuki's conception has a rhetorical splendor that caps the performance like the dome on a cathedral.

The soloists are uniformly strong, and are major names in Bach perfomance. Carolyn Sampson leads the sopranos with a tone at once rich but still pure, and teams up with Rachel Nicholls for a gorgeous Christe eleison. Countertenor Robin Blaze is in excellent voice on this outing, and his Qui sedes hasn't a trace of the hollowness that sometimes mars his vocal production. Bass Peter Kooij is a veteran of this series. His dry-ish timbre and focused intonation (aided by gutsy horn-playing) make the Quoniam a highlight of the performance.

BIS's engineers wisely put a good bit of space around the players, which allows the big choruses to fill the room while giving just the right prominence to the trumpets and drums. The result, whether in stereo or multichannel formats, gives the music tremendous physicality and impact. Make no mistake, this is one of the great versions of Bach's masterpiece.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

"The performance is full of life, full of Baroque spirit while being strict to the letter of authentic practice. The horns have just the right amount of grit, the strings just bouncy enough. Balances side to side and front to back are perfect. Balance between instruments, chorus and soloists is perfect. The soloists are exceptional, ...if you buy only one recording, buy the Suzuki." Musicweb.uk.net 03/2006

"Masaaki Suzuki brings to the St Matthew Passion the same devotional intensity that has characterised his Bach cantata recordings. This focus is immediately evident in the opening chorus/chorale, which he imbues with compelling power despite opting to use relatively small vocal and orchestral forces throughout. It is evident, too, in Bach Collegium Japan’s impeccable performances, which bespeak a score explored in meticulous detail and with profound affection. There is certainly much to admire here: fierce turbas, gentle chorales, exemplary instrumental solos."

5 out of 5 stars for both sound and performace!

-- Graham Lock, BBC Music Magazine
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Works on This Recording

Mass in B minor, BWV 232 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Robin Blaze (Countertenor), Peter Kooy (Bass), Carolyn Sampson (Soprano),
Rachel Nicholls (Soprano), Gerd Türk (Tenor)
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1747-49; Leipzig, Germany 
Saint John Passion, BWV 245 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Gerd Türk (Tenor), Makoto Sakurada (Tenor), Yoshikazu Mera (Countertenor),
Ingrid Schmithüsen (Soprano), Peter Kooy (Bass), Yoshie Hida (Soprano),
Chiyuki Urano (Bass)
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; Leipzig, Germany 
Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Robin Blaze (Countertenor), Makoto Sakurada (Tenor), Peter Kooy (Bass),
Nancy Argenta (Soprano), Gerd Türk (Tenor), Chiyuki Urano (Bass)
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: Circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Gerd Türk (Tenor), Yoshikazu Mera (Countertenor), Peter Kooy (Bass),
Monica Frimmer (Soprano)
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1734-1735; Leipzig, Germany 
Notes: Composition written: Leipzig, Germany (1734 - 1735). 
Easter Oratorio, BWV 249 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Patrick Van Goethem (Countertenor), Chiyuki Urano (Bass), Jan Kobow (Tenor),
Yukari Nonoshita (Soprano)
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1732-1735; Leipzig, Germany 

Featured Sound Samples

Mass in B minor: Gloria: Gloria in excelsis Deo
Mass in B minor: Credo: Credo in unum Deum
St. Matthew Passion: Part I: Duet with Chorus: "So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen"
Christmas Oratorio: Part I: Chorus: "Jauchzet, frohlocket! Auf, preiset die Tage"

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