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Bach: Famous Cantatas Vol 2 / Herreweghe, Collegium Vocale Gent

Bach / Chapelle Royale / Herreweghe
Release Date: 05/11/2010 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 5908363  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Peter KooyIngeborg DanzDeborah YorkMark Padmore,   ... 
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


This disc contains several of my favorite Bach cantatas, and some of his grandest choral and brass writing. The program also makes a perfect introduction to the world of the cantatas in general for anyone who loves Bach's instrumental music or larger vocal works (like the B minor Mass), but who has been hesitating before taking the plunge into the vast sea of his cantata production. Why? Simple: two of these pieces contain music found elsewhere in Bach's output. For example, the first chorus of BWV 120 became the concluding number (Et expecto) of the B minor Mass "Credo". BWV 29 opens with an almost shockingly brilliant arrangement (as an organ concerto) of the opening movement of the E
Read more major violin partita, followed by the chorus that appears in the B minor Mass as both the "Gratias" and the "Dona Nobis Pacem" (the German original means exactly the same thing as the Gratias: "We thank thee," making the adaptation entirely apropos). All three cantatas feature brilliant writing for trumpets (four of them in BWV 119) and drums, and were written for civic ceremonies in Leipzig. And if the words are often less than inspiring to us now, no one can argue that Bach didn't rise to the occasion musically.

Philippe Herreweghe's performances of these three jubilant pieces offer all of the joy and vigor that one could hope for. The balance between chorus and orchestra allows the tricky exchanges between trumpets, voices, and other instruments in the chorus "Jauchzet, ihr erfreuten Stimmen" from BWV 120 to emerge with perfect naturalness. In general, the brass playing is terrific. Check out the zesty recitative with fanfares "So herrlicht stehst, liebe Stadt!" in BWV 119, for example. The solo singing also reaches a very high standard, especially from the women. Ingeborg Danz warbles her way through the impossibly florid opening aria of BWV 120 with the same instrumental aplomb as the oboe obbligato. Deborah York's crystal clear soprano provides a delightful contrast in the same work.

Herreweghe adds a harpsichord to the continuo in BWV 29, appropriately only for the opening concerto and two subsequent arias, and his flowing treatment of the final chorales in all three works offers solemnity without somnolence. The trumpet-capped conclusion to BWV 29 (placed third in order of performance) sets the seal on a remarkable disc that contains not a single dull moment from beginning to end, and which has been thoughtfully programmed to make ideally contrasted, continuous listening.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com, reviewing BWV 29, 119 & 120

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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 (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, reviewing BWV 198 & 78

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The volume was turned slightly higher than my normal listening level when I began playing this CD--and it was a happy coincidence. The room-filling brilliance of the trumpets at the opening of BWV 207, immediately joined by the resounding orchestra, then the exuberant chorus--with such life-like presence and larger-than-life impact--was a reminder of how viscerally affecting recordings can be. Of course, it helps to have such scintillating, dynamic, celebratory music to command the scene, but nevertheless, Bach's rarely-heard "Vereinigte Zwietracht..." never has been recorded with this kind of musical virtuosity, dominating energy, and sheer excitement. The same goes for Philippe Herreweghe's rendition of the more often-recorded "Tönet, ihr Pauken!", whose vibrant exclamations--both instrumental and vocal--and ability to convey the essence of the work's celebratory character place it in a class by itself.

The choir and orchestra are beyond reproach, and the soloists, often the weak links in performances of Bach's cantatas, are among the finest anyone could employ (and not surprisingly, Herreweghe uses them regularly). If you're looking for an excellent--make that unequalled--recording of two of Bach's most invigorating and musically compelling cantatas, look no further. Yes, it's supposed to be Mozart's "year", but this is one case where he may be momentarily--and justifiably--upstaged.

– David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com [1/17/2006], reviewing BWV 214 & 207, HM 901860

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Bach - Celebrating the Fortieth Anniversary the Collegium Vocale Gent; Philippe Herreweghe Discover the 9 new 3-CD books with full texts, illustrations & translations 2010 marks the fortieth anniversary of Collegium Vocale: founded by Philippe Herreweghe at a time when the Baroque revival was still an affair for specialists, the Belgian choir has been at the very heart of the rediscovery of Bach's sacred music. Abundantly illustrated and elegantly presented, these nine CD-books offer you the entire collection of Bach / Herreweghe recordings.
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Works on This Recording

1. Wir danken dir, Gott, BWV 29 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Peter Kooy (Bass), Ingeborg Danz (Alto), Deborah York (Soprano),
Mark Padmore (Tenor)
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1731; Leipzig, Germany 
2. Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn, BWV 119 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Peter Kooy (Bass), Ingeborg Danz (Alto), Deborah York (Soprano),
Mark Padmore (Tenor)
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Leipzig, Germany 
3. Gott, mann lobet dich in der Stille, BWV 120 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Peter Kooy (Bass), Ingeborg Danz (Alto), Deborah York (Soprano),
Mark Padmore (Tenor)
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1728-1729; Leipzig, Germany 
4. Lass, Fürstin, lass noch einen Strahl, BWV 198 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Peter Kooy (Bass), Charles Brett (Countertenor), Howard Crook (Tenor),
Ingrid Schmithüsen (Soprano)
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
5. Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Howard Crook (Tenor), Charles Brett (Countertenor), Ingrid Schmithüsen (Soprano),
Peter Kooy (Bass)
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; Leipzig, Germany 
6. Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet Trompeten!, BWV 214 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Mark Padmore (Tenor), Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Ingeborg Danz (Alto),
Peter Kooy (Bass)
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1733; Leipzig, Germany 
7. Vereingte Zwietracht der wechselnden Saiten, BWV 207 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Peter Kooy (Bass), Ingeborg Danz (Alto), Deborah York (Soprano),
Mark Padmore (Tenor)
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; Germany 

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