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Bach: Actus Tragicus - Cantatas 106, 131, 99, 56, 82 & 158 / Rifkin, Bach Ensemble


Release Date: 09/16/2008 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 458087   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jan OpalachEdmund BrownlessAnn MonoyiosSteven Rickards,   ... 
Conductor:  Joshua Rifkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Ensemble
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Among the most convincing versions of Ich habe genug available, along with fascinating interpretations featuring Joshua Rifkin's customary one-voice-per-part approach.

This new disc from Joshua Rifkin and his Bach Ensemble is the sixth in a series which has its ups and downs but which, at its strongest (Nos. 8, 78 and 99 on (I) 421 728-20H, 10/89) illuminates Bach's music with a gentle radiance and a clarity seldom found among its rivals. It is hardly necessary, perhaps, to draw readers' attention to the fact that Rifkin performs this music more or less one to a part chorally and instrumentally, but that anyone seeking a large body of sound such as that favoured by Helmuth Rilling, the late Karl Richter and most of
Read more their predecessors will do well to look elsewhere than here.

The three cantatas on this disc are for solo bass voice with an additional concluding four-voice chorale in two of them. Ich habe genug and Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen are among Bach's bestknown cantatas white the other, shorter and captivating from start to finish, Der Friede sei mit dir, may be less familiar to all but specialists in the field. The bass, Jan Opalach has appeared in all but one disc in the series and, for the most part, I have found his contributions musically thoughtful and expressive in their declamation. His performances here are no exception though I felt that the opening aria of No. 56 took a while to settle into a comfortable shape, rhythmically and articulately. There are weak moments of ensemble too, and occasional passages where the otherwise excellent first oboe player, Stephen Hammer—he has a heavy task to perform in both Nos. 56 and 82— sounds under strain, but these are very much exceptions in readings which are delicately shaded and governed by well-judged tempos. Happily, in the case of Ich habe genug, of which Bach left several versions differing from one another in significant respects, Rifkin opts for that which the composer used for his last known performance in the late 1740s. Happily, because in the sublime lullaby, "Schlummert on, ihr matten Augen" Bach reinforced the first violin part with an oboe da caccia—an inspired, deeply affecting masterstroke. Players and singers alike respond to this timeless music, not always with finesse but seldom without feeling.

The remaining cantata, No. 158, comes over well. Here the bass is joined in a beautiful Aria with Chorale by the soprano, Laurie Monahan. She is a newcomer to Rifkin's series with a steady voice of bell-like clarity. In summary, a satisfying disc, not without its weak moments but, on balance among the most convincing versions of Ich habe genug currently available. It might well be my first choice.

-- Gramophone [9/1991]
reviewing the original release of Cantatas 56, 82 and 158, L'Oiseau-Lyre 425822
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Works on This Recording

1.
Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste, BWV 106 "Actus tragicus" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jan Opalach (Bass), Edmund Brownless (Tenor), Ann Monoyios (Soprano),
Steven Rickards (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Joshua Rifkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708; Mühlhausen, Germany 
Language: German 
2.
Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir, BWV 131 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Steven Rickards (Countertenor), Ann Monoyios (Soprano), Jan Opalach (Bass),
Edmund Brownless (Tenor)
Conductor:  Joshua Rifkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1707; Mühlhausen, Germany 
Language: German 
3.
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, BWV 99 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jan Opalach (Bass Baritone), Julianne Baird (Soprano), Allan Fast (Countertenor),
Frank Kelley (Tenor)
Conductor:  Joshua Rifkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; Leipzig, Germany 
4.
Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen, BWV 56 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Laurie Monahan (Soprano), Jan Opalach (Bass), William Hite (Tenor),
Douglas Stevens (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Joshua Rifkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1989 
Venue:  Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Methuen, MA 
Length: 17 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: German 
5.
Ich habe genug, BWV 82 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jan Opalach (Bass)
Conductor:  Joshua Rifkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1989 
Venue:  Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Methuen, MA 
Length: 22 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: German 
6.
Der Friede sei mit dir, BWV 158 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Douglas Stevens (Countertenor), Laurie Monahan (Soprano), Jan Opalach (Bass),
William Hite (Tenor)
Conductor:  Joshua Rifkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1723; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1989 
Venue:  Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Methuen, MA 
Length: 10 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Language: German 

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