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De Profundis / Ponseele, Il Gardellino

Bach,J.s. / Il Gardellino
Release Date: 05/10/2011 
Label:  Passacaille   Catalog #: 969   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Christoph GraupnerJohann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Marcus UllmannLieven TermontDamien Guillon
Conductor:  Marcel Ponseele
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Gardellino
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 58 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BACH Cantatas: No. 177; 1-3 No. 131 3,4. GRAUPNER Aus der Tiefen 1-4 Marcel Ponseele (cond); 1 Caroline Weynants (sop); 2 Damien Guillon (ct); 3 Marcus Ullman (ten); 4 Lieven Termont (bar); Il Read more Gardellino (period instruments) PASSACAILLE 969 (58:24 & no translation)

This is the second of a series of themed cantata recordings by Marcel Ponseele and his crack ensemble, Il Gardellino. The first, titled Desire , was reviewed in Fanfare 34:5. The current disc, titled De Profundis , includes one of Bach’s earliest cantatas, BWV 131, and one of his latest, BWV 177, as well as a cantata by one of Bach’s prominent contemporaries, Christoph Graupner (1683–1760). The latter is of particular interest because Graupner was the Leipzig Town Council’s second choice (after Telemann) to replace its retiring cantor, Johann Kuhnau, in 1723. But Graupner was unable to obtain a release from his current employer, giving the appointment to the third choice, Johann Sebastian Bach, and changing the course of music history. In fact, the much-maligned council’s logic was sound. Telemann, a former resident, was the most celebrated (and industrious) composer in Germany, and Graupner had been Kuhnau’s apprentice. When one council member infamously remarked that if the town could not secure a quality candidate it would have to settle for a mediocre one, he was including Bach in the first category, not the second. On the slender evidence of this cantata—the only one I’ve personally heard—I would have to say that Leipzig would have been well served if Graupner had been able to accept its offer. It’s an attractive piece, with opening and closing choruses bookending a freely composed recitative accompagnato, quite reminiscent of Bach’s setting for Cantata 131. Cantata 177 is, from our perspective, more conventionally structured: an opening chorus, three arias, and a concluding chorale. But it is one of the rare cantatas based entirely on the chorale text, and it has no recitatives. It hasn’t drawn much attention apart from the integral cantata series, but deserves better.

Ponseele, one of our finest Baroque oboists, observes that after 30 years he has “played everything” and believes that he has earned the right to present his vision to the public, without attempting to “outclass” anyone else. And perhaps these performances do not outclass the competition, but they do stand up to it, in no small part because Ponseele plays as well as directs. He has a superlative quartet of soloists, backed by a small (seven voices) ripieno chorus. The chamber-sized instrumental ensemble is equally praiseworthy, and the disc rates a most enthusiastic recommendation. A minor quibble: As in the previous release the texts are given in German only and not translated. Nevertheless, I gladly await the forthcoming entries in the series.

It turns out that this is not the first recording of Graupner’s cantata (catalog GWV 1113/23a—Graupner, like Telemann, wrote a great many more cantatas than Bach) or its first pairing with Bach’s BWV 131. Some two decades ago both appeared in a two-disc Ricercar set of German Baroque cantatas, all on the subject of De Profundis , featuring such lesser composers as Baldwin Hoyoul, Lupus Hellinck, Leonard Lechner, and Thomas Selle, among others. It was performed by the Ricercar Consort under the direction of Erik van Nevel, and two of its performers were Marcel Ponseele and first violinist François Fernandez, who fulfills the same function in the present ensemble. It, too, was a splendid offering, well worth a search.

FANFARE: George Chien
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Works on This Recording

Aus der Tiefen ruffen wir by Christoph Graupner
Performer:  Marcus Ullmann (), Lieven Termont (), Damien Guillon ()
Conductor:  Marcel Ponseele
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Gardellino
Period: Baroque 
Length: 12 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 177 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Lieven Termont (), Marcus Ullmann (), Damien Guillon ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Gardellino
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1732; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 22 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir, BWV 131 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Lieven Termont (), Marcus Ullmann (), Damien Guillon ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Gardellino
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1707; Mühlhausen, Germany 
Length: 21 Minutes 37 Secs. 

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