Bach: Cantatas Vol 2 / Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque

Release Date: 5/1/2003
Label: Challenge
Catalog Number: CC72202
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Number of Discs: 3

Physical Format:

CD
In Stock
$24.99
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Although Ton Koopman's fine Bach cantata series, begun in the mid-1990s, was abandoned by Warner Classics/Erato in 2001, the conductor managed to resume the 22-volume edition's issue through his own label, Antoine Marchand (a sub-label of Challenge Classics). And while distribution in the U.S. hasn't always been steady, that question seems to be resolved and we can expect to enjoy the remaining volumes as they appear over the next few years. This Volume 2 is by no means a "new release", but since Classicstoday.com last visited the series in June, 2003, with a review of Volume 1 (type Q6613 in Search Reviews), we thought we'd pick up where we left off. As collectors of these cantatas already know, Koopman initially released 12 of the 22 volumes with Erato, so if you already own any of these, you don't need to consider the Challenge Classics versions since they are identical.


As for the current 3-disc set, it includes eight pre-Leipzig church cantatas--among them the powerful and affecting BWV 12 and BWV 61--along with two secular works and appendixes for BWV 18 and BWV 182. Koopman and his Amsterdam forces have long experience and excellent reputations as Bach interpreters, and if your taste in cantata performance runs to moderate-sized choir and period instruments, crisp articulation from both voices and orchestra, reedy timbre and slightly gritty instrumental texture (with gorgeous wind-playing)--and occasionally sluggish recitatives and arias, and randomly weak or uneven soloists mixed with first-rate ones--then you can expect overall satisfaction with these refined, thoughtful, scholarly, often transcendent renditions.


Highlights here are the oft-recorded BWV 12 (for an alternative recommendation, type Q8798 in Search Reviews), which suffers only slightly from the relatively lackluster alto aria "Kreuz und Krone sind verbunden" and shines in the dramatic choruses, and BWV 61, with its perfectly executed rhythms and cleanly sung lines in the opening chorus. As I mentioned in my review of Volume 1, I'm not as wild as some other observers about Barbara Schlick's somewhat nervous soprano, but it does have a certain inherent plaintive quality that can be appealing and even appropriate, as in her aria "Öffne dich, mein ganzes Herze". And I generally prefer countertenor Daniel Taylor (HM) to Kai Wessel, although the latter is certainly better than most (male or female) in this repertoire. Tenor Christoph Prégardien and bass Klaus Mertens are very fine and never call attention to themselves for unwelcome mannerisms or disagreeable vocal characteristics.


If only Koopman imparted a bit more of the emotional content--the wrenching anguish of "Weinen, Klagen..." or the unbridled joy of "Erschallet, ihr Lieder"--if only he allowed more contrast between the darkness and the light, the weightiness and the buoyancy, I'd be unconditionally enthusiastic about these performances. As it is, these are very solid and worthy readings that continue to stand among the catalog's best. But as with any large-scale project involving such a quantity of individual works, you occasionally will find better performances of given cantatas elsewhere, from Herreweghe or Harnoncourt or Rilling or Gardiner, for example. But if you're looking for a good, world-class, reliable series you won't go wrong with Koopman's. [5/11/2005]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
1. Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, BWV 12 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Kai Wessel (Alto), Klaus Mertens (Bass), Barbara Schlick (Soprano), Christoph Prégardien (Tenor)
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Period: Baroque
Written: 1714 ; Weimar, Germany
2. Gleich wie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt, BWV 18 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble: Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque
Written: ?1715 ; Cöthen, Germany
3. Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Kai Wessel (Alto), Klaus Mertens (Bass), Barbara Schlick (Soprano), Christoph Prégardien (Tenor)
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Period: Baroque
Written: 1714 ; Cöthen, Germany
4. Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn!, BWV 132 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Kai Wessel (Alto), Klaus Mertens (Bass), Barbara Schlick (Soprano), Christoph Prégardien (Tenor)
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Period: Baroque
Written: 1715 ; Weimar, Germany
5. Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn, BWV 152 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Kai Wessel (Alto), Klaus Mertens (Bass), Barbara Schlick (Soprano), Christoph Prégardien (Tenor)
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Period: Baroque
Written: 1714 ; Cöthen, Germany
6. Lobe den Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget ihr Saiten!, BWV 172 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Kai Wessel (Alto), Klaus Mertens (Bass), Barbara Schlick (Soprano), Christoph Prégardien (Tenor)
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Period: Baroque
Written: 1714 ; Weimar, Germany
7. Himmelskönig sei willkommen, BWV 182 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Kai Wessel (Alto), Klaus Mertens (Bass), Barbara Schlick (Soprano), Christoph Prégardien (Tenor)
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Period: Baroque
Written: 1714 ; Cöthen, Germany
8. Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut, BWV 199 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Kai Wessel (Alto), Klaus Mertens (Bass), Barbara Schlick (Soprano), Christoph Prégardien (Tenor)
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Period: Baroque
Written: 1714 ; Cöthen, Germany
9. Amore traditore, BWV 203 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Period: Baroque
10. Quodlibet, BWV 524 [fragment] by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Kai Wessel (Alto), Klaus Mertens (Bass), Barbara Schlick (Soprano), Christoph Prégardien (Tenor)
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Period: Baroque
Written: 1707 ; Cöthen, Germany
11. Gleich wie der Regen und Schnee, BWV 18: Ich bitt, O Herr, aus Herzensgrund by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Period: Baroque
Written: ?1715 ; Cöthen, Germany
12. Himmelskönig sei willkommen, BWV 182: Sinfonia in G major by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Orchestra/Ensemble: Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque
Written: 1714 ; Cöthen, Germany
13. Himmelskönig sei willkommen, BWV 182: no 7, Jesu, deine Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Period: Baroque
Written: 1714 ; Cöthen, Germany
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