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Bach: Cantatas Vol 1 / Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque


Release Date: 08/05/2003 
Label:  Challenge   Catalog #: 72201   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Guy de MeyKai WesselBarbara SchlickKlaus Mertens
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque OrchestraAmsterdam Baroque Choir
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

In evaluating a Bach cantata recording, there are so many variables to consider--programming choices; quality and type of soloists; tempos and balances among soloists, orchestra, and chorus; quality of choir and orchestra; use of alternate arias (or voices for a particular aria); version of the score (where more than one exists); instrumentation (period or modern instruments; configuration of continuo); and of course, the quality of the recorded sound--that comparisons between different recordings often become more descriptions than critiques. No matter how "good" a performance is, if you don't like period instruments you won't like Herreweghe or Koopman; likewise, if a certain countertenor soloist bugs you, you'll be unlikely to Read more enjoy a cantata in which that singer is prominently featured, no matter how wonderful the work's other movements sound. On the other hand, if you like Koopman--or Herreweghe, both of whom are the most interpretively consistent among period-instrument practitioners (Rilling fits that bill in the modern-instrument category; "periodists" Gardiner and Harnoncourt are notoriously unpredictable)--then you'll likely be pretty satisfied with most of their efforts in this repertoire.


The current volume is a reissue of Vol. 1 from Koopman's Bach cantata series launched in the mid-1990s on Erato, a series that had reached 15 volumes (12 of which were released) when the label's parent company, Warner Classics, cancelled the project. Koopman has since created his own label, Antoine Marchand (a sub-label of Challenge Classics), and promises not only to re-release the previous volumes but to finish the project with a total of 22 volumes, the last to be issued in 2006. So, if you already own the earlier Erato/Koopman discs, there's no need to buy this identical re-issue. (You will, however, be interested in Vol. 13, to be released in July, with Nos. 14 and 15 to follow later this year.)


For newcomers to the Bach-cantata canon, Koopman's series, which features a generally top-notch array of solo singers, some of the world's best Baroque instrumentalists, and a superb chorus, coupled with crisp, clearly articulated performances, richly colored orchestral timbre, and intelligently, affectingly moderated tempos and expressive effects, is a perfect place to begin. What's more, in his desire for completeness, Koopman includes alternate versions of movements for some cantatas, in this case Nos. 4 and 21, where changes to the instrumentation make distinct differences in the sound. While it's impossible to be satisfied with all the soloists all the time, those featured here are very fine. My only problem is with Barbara Schlick (who's also a favorite of Herreweghe), whose unusually quivery delivery gives a sorrowful, fragile edge to her solos that may be consistent with the texts but ultimately makes her sound nervous and strained.


As mentioned, chorus and orchestra are first rate, and Koopman manages his forces to effectively capture and deliver the many profoundly moving moments found throughout these scores--notable right from the opening Sinfonia of BWV 21, with its plaintive oboe solo setting the stage for the mood of one of Bach's most famous choruses, Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, which is followed by the soprano's "sighing, weeping" aria, accompanied by the oboe's commiserating melodic commentary. The sound on these early discs is slightly bright but uniformly well-detailed and balanced. Importantly, you can approach these performances knowing that at the helm is a true Bach expert who also loves this music and is committed to bringing this economically risky project to fruition in world-class fashion. And that's something that for Bach fans certainly will warrant continued attention. Stay tuned.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Guy de Mey (Tenor), Kai Wessel (Alto), Barbara Schlick (Soprano),
Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708; Weimar, Germany 
Language: German 
2.
Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Barbara Schlick (Soprano), Guy de Mey (Tenor), Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1714; Cöthen, Germany 
Language: German 
3.
Der Himmel lacht! die Erde jubilieret, BWV 31 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass), Barbara Schlick (Soprano), Guy de Mey (Tenor)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1715; Cöthen, Germany 
Language: German 
4.
Gott ist mein König, BWV 71 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kai Wessel (Alto), Barbara Schlick (Soprano), Guy de Mey (Tenor),
Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708; Mühlhausen, Germany 
Language: German 
5.
Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste, BWV 106 "Actus tragicus" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Barbara Schlick (Soprano), Kai Wessel (Alto), Guy de Mey (Tenor),
Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708; Mühlhausen, Germany 
Language: German 
6.
Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir, BWV 131 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Guy de Mey (Tenor), Kai Wessel (Alto), Barbara Schlick (Soprano),
Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1707; Mühlhausen, Germany 
Language: German 
7.
Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich, BWV 150 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Barbara Schlick (Soprano), Guy de Mey (Tenor), Kai Wessel (Alto),
Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1708-1709; Cöthen, Germany 
Language: German 
8.
Barmherziges Herze der ewigen Liebe, BWV 185 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass), Guy de Mey (Tenor), Kai Wessel (Alto),
Barbara Schlick (Soprano)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1715; Cöthen, Germany 
Language: German 
9.
Der Herr denket an uns, BWV 196 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass), Guy de Mey (Tenor), Barbara Schlick (Soprano)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: ?1708; Weimar, Germany 
Language: German 
10.
Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21: no 9a, Sei nun wieder zufrieden, meine Seele by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1714; Cöthen, Germany 
Language: German 
Notes: Ver: Leipzig version 
11.
Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4: no 1, Sinfonia in E minor by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708; Weimar, Germany 
Notes: Ver: Leipzig version 
12.
Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4: no 2, Christ lag in Todesbanden by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708; Weimar, Germany 
Language: German 
Notes: Ver: Leipzig version 
13.
Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4: no 8, Wir essen und leben wohl by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708; Weimar, Germany 
Language: German 
Notes: Ver: Leipzig version 
14.
Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4: no 3, Den Tod niemand zwingen kunnt by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kai Wessel (Alto), Barbara Schlick (Soprano)
Conductor:  Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708; Weimar, Germany 
Language: German 
Notes: Ver: Leipzig version 

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