Notes and Editorial Reviews
Bach Collegium Japan was founded in 1990 by Masaaki Suzuki, who remains the ensemble's music director. Five years later, BCJ and BIS Records launched a complete cycle of Bach's church cantatas - a cycle which has just reached its 44th volume, and will be completed within the next five years. From the very beginning, this enterprise has been described as 'exceptional', 'invaluable' and 'the most consistent and successful of all cantata cycles'. In countless enthusiastic reviews, qualities such as 'clarity, long-breathed phrasing, tonal beauty and fine, idiomatic solo singing' (International Record Review) and 'sheer polish and technical accomplishment of the music-making' (Classic FM Magazine) are listed along descriptions of the following kind: 'Whether he dances a minuet, questions, comforts, relaxes in a pastoral setting or flinches under the lashes of unrelenting pointed rhythms, Suzuki's Bach always hits the right note and finds the proper gesture' (Le Monde de la Musique). Leading up to the 20th anniversary of Bach Collegium Japan, a limited edition of the first 40 discs is now available, compiled in four boxes of ten discs each. Following the chronological approach of the series, the first part, 'Erschallet, ihr Lieder!', contains contains 34 cantatas composed between 1704-1723, mainly in Weimar, Cöthen and Leipzig. The second instalment, 'Erfreut euch!', consists of 37 cantatas, the lion part of Bach's first cycle of cantatas for the church year 1723-24, while the remaining two, 'Singet dem Herrn!' (32 cantatas) and 'Jesu, nun sei gepreiset!' (39 cantatas) more or less correspond to the second cycle of Leipzig cantatas, composed for services during the church year 1724-25. Appearing throughout the series, alongside the singers and instrumentalists of Bach Collegium Japan, are a number of eminent soloists. These include the sopranos Carolyn Sampson, Yukari Nonoshita, Midori Suzuki and Miah Persson; the counter-tenors Robin Blaze, Yoshikazu Mera and Daniel Taylor; the tenors Gerd Türk, Makoto Sakurada, Jan Kobow and James Gilchrist; and the basses Peter Kooij, Dominik Wörner and Chiyuki Urano. The recordings have all been made in the same venue - the chapel of the Kobe Shoin Women's University - by the same group of BIS producers, and are of a quality that has greatly contributed to the critical success of the series. In the regular cantata cycle, all volumes from No. 28 and onwards have been released as Hybrid SACDs, with a Surround Sound option included. For the purpose of this anniversary edition, discs 28-40 have been produced as conventional Compact Discs. The discs are accompanied by the original booklets, including the full liner notes in English, German and French, as well as the German cantata texts and their English translations.