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American Bach Soloists

Continue of discussion from: Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 - conducted by Nicholas McGegan

Eric Bergerud wrote (December 8, 2006):
Pal Domokos wrote:
< I don't have any CD of ABS but I see that they're selling a few themselves: http://www17.serrahost.com/servlet/americanbachorg/Search?category=CDs
Do you have these recordings? Which one would you suggest for a first experience of ABS?
Thanks, >

I don't have any of the recordings they're selling but I heard them do a bang-up job on BWV 51. (That isn't hard to my ears as it's such a wonderful cantata.) Of course it's paired with "Habe Genug" (BWV 82) and as it's the most recorded cantata in print you maybe habe gunug Habe Genug. (I certainly do, and I have so many that I've decided my favorite is the performance by Nancy Argenta based, or so the legend goes, on a transcription done by Anna for soprano.) I certainly liked their Matthew Passion (BWV 244). The prices are sure attractive: their ticket prices are very low also. I don't see you going wrong with any of them. I have two of their CDs that must be out of print and Koch does a fine job on the engineering end. I still think I'd track down that used BWV 1083 on Amazon: it's really good and only $7.00. They also did a really nice job with 106 on another OOP CD.

BTW: I'm not sure I can think of boring Bach, but if so, it sure wasn't done by Paul McCreesh. I have all of his recordings so I guess that makes me a fan.

Nessie Russell wrote (December 8, 2006):
[To Eric Bergerud] Some of their recordings are available for downloading at EMusic. I agree with you that they are excellent.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 8, 2006):
[To Nessie Russell] American Bach Soloists Vol II, with BWV 8, BWV 156, BWV 198, has been available at Berkshire Records for some time. I did not check again right now. I posted some comments at BWV 8 discussion. As I recall I thought it one of the best choices, and very slightly preferable to Rifkin for a direct comparison of OVPP.

It is good to hear from, as a gentle reminder that BCML is not a men's cigar lounge.

Pal Domokos wrote (December 9, 2006):
[To Eric Bergerud] I've listened into BWV 82 at amazon.de, and it sounded good enough with my cheap sound card and toy speakers. Tomorrow I'll check my favourite CD shop, and if they don't have ABS's Cantatas I, I'll order it. Thanks for calling my attention to them. (As it turns out, I don't have enough recordings of BWV 82: I love it so much that I just can't resist any good new performance of it.)

I listened through McGegan's Messiah this evening (I've been neglecting it for years), and still like it a lot. Interestingly, Jeffrey Thomas sings the tenor part in it.

What was the BWV 232 concert like?

 

ABS: Boy Soloists & Parishoner particpation

Eric Bergerud wrote (January 22, 2007):
I went to hear the American Bach Soloists play New Years Cantatas (BWV 16, BWV 41, BWV 190, BWV 171). For the first time the ABS employed all male soloists with boys singing the soprano and alto arias and recitatives. (They were supported by a 15 member adult choir - I guess their conversion to OVPP is conditional.) The boys were from
the Pacific Boychoir Academy. Overall the ABS was in decent form and considering the music chosen, it was, by definition, time well spent. Double true because the brass comes out in these works with full war paint and I am partial to Bach's brass as long as nobody gets accidently decapitated by one of the players using these bazookas.

The boys did pretty well. Their two trebels were 6th graders. One who did an aria in BWV 16 was about the size of a gerbil. As you might expect the little fellow had real trouble projecting his voice in what's a pretty good sized church. Obviously this did not seem to impress the masses, but if you listened closely the boy was hitting some good notes and actually handled the piece pretty well. The other trebel must have had forty pounds on his classmate and it made a big difference. Projection was good and he hit far more notes than he missed. Their star was a Polish 8th grader just admitted after some frustrating squabbles with the US State Department (the story was in the local rags until the Government regained sanity and let the kid in). This gent had a wonderful voice: powerful, excellent articulation - beat the hell out of a countertenor. He was also tall and strong: boy singers today are not necessarily midgets. Overall I thought the night a great success: I'm not sure rest of the audience would have agreed however. One this was clear to me. If the PBA had been able to send a soprano as good as their star alto this would have been an exceptional concert. I really do hope that boys are kept in the cantata scene even if their role must be secondary.

I attended most of the pre-performance lecture given by on the ABS instrumentalists. (I think most of these folks have something to do with Berkeley or some of the other local universitities.) Anyway, as ABS sometimes does, the conductor asked the audience to sing the concluding chorale of BWV 16. It worked pretty well in practice. However, conductor and music director Jeffrey Thomas shut the door on the other three because he thought the concluding chorales were too difficult to sing especially with the brass there. Despite that the lecturer said the ABS employed audience participation in the chorales fairly often. (I had never heard it before yesterday.) He claimed that he was "reasonably certain" that this practice would have been "very common" in original Bach performances. I do not endorse the claim, just thought I'd pass it along.

Eric Bergerud wrote (January 22, 2007):
Magnatune.com

The American Bach Soloists have joined another few score ensembles or classical artists and are offering some of their CDs on a new service Magnatune.com. The catalog is open to all so you can see what is available. If you want to listen to a work, you can at decent fidelity although someone announces each track (no doubt to thwart software that records streaming audio). If you want the work you can pay what you want if it's over $5 for the CD. They "suggest" $8. According to Magnatune and the ABS, the artists get 50% of the cut which is pretty good. You can either have a CD sent to you or download it in any one of a multitude of formats. I bought an ABS cantata CD (BWV 140, BWV 78, BWV 80) done on high quality MP3s: they took up about 140KB on a CD but sound pretty good. (I'm beginning to like MP3s for car trips: hours of good music that sounds perfectly good in an environment not ideal for high fidelity under any circumstances.) Most of their classical clients are baroque and early music ensembles including Philarmonia Baroque. (ABS also has their Mass in B (BWV 232) listed.) This is about as painless a way that I can think of to stuff and ipod or burn your own CDs. The consumer is also allowed to download and distribute three copies of whatever is purchased and is also allowed up to three downloads if you want different formats. Interesting place: might be worth a check. http://magnatune.com/genres/classical/

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 22, 2007):
ABS: Sing aong chorales

Eric Bergerud wrote:
< However, conductor and music director Jeffrey Thomas shut the door on the other three becaushe thought the concluding chorales were too difficult to sing especially with the brass there. Despite that the lecturer said the ABS employed audience participation in the chorales fairly often. (I had never heard it before yesterday.) He claimed that he was "reasonably certain" that this practice would have been "very common" in original Bach performances. I do not endorse the claim, just thought I'd pass it along >
It's remarkable how the sing-along myth is perpetuated in the face of common sense. Bach's chorales aren't congregational hymns, they're mni-chorale fantasies and always a tough sing. But I guess that keeps him democratic populist and a Romantic man of the masses.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 22, 2007):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< There star was a Polish 8th grader just admitted after some frustrating squabbles with the US State Department (the story was in the local rags until the Government regained sanity and let the kid in). >
Government regained sanity? You must be overlooking something.

Thanks for this post. I think reports on significant (or any) regional performances are an underutilized opportunity for BCML. I will try to provide some similar thoughts re the Boston area, most recently Cantata Singers, Fri., Jan. 19, BWV 101, along with two previous John Harbison commissions, and BWV 1066. Details sooncome.

 

American Bach Soloists [was: Novice Members]

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 21, 2009):
BWV 62 [was: novice members]

Anne wrote:
>My favourites are The American Bach Soloists and the Suzuki recordings.<
If you enjoy ABS, try also Folan/Publick Musick, more or less our neighbors, in Rochester NY. I previously wrote re their BWV 62, then posted a correction because of my misreading of Max van Egmonds exact participation on the CD, all early on, with the hope that it would be an item for new material in the current discussion. The resulting silence was deafening, normal for my specifically on-topic posts. If there is no discussion, it does not provide a lot of incentive to continue in the same vein. Clear?
<>
Thanks to Anne for her posts re the music, here, and especially on BRML, which I have only recently realized since subscribing to that group.

Anne (Nessie) Russell wrote (January 21, 2009):
Folan/Publick Musick

Ed Myskowski wrote:
>If you enjoy ABS, try also Folan/Publick Musick, more or less our neighbors, in Rochester NY. <
Thanks for the recommendation. I will look them up.
<>

Anne (Nessie) Russell wrote (January 21, 2009):
Glen Armstronga sked:
>But many thanks for allowing me the opportunity to question you on whether the alto with ABS is Judith Malafronte or Drew Minter? I enjoy both. <
I don't know. Sounds like a woman to me. One of the drawbacks from buying music from EMusic is the lack of liner notes.

>Too bad about the chorale's bombing. It must have been crushing. <
No. You get used to it. Black History Month is coming up soon. I get a lot of positive feedback when we do jazz.

Jane Newble wrote (January 22, 2009):
Anne Russell wrote:
>If I was asked why I liked the American Bach Soloists I would only be able to say that they have a Wonderful Alto.<
Anne, I read your email with interest. It must be terribly frustrating not to be able to perform Bach.

As for the American Bach soloists, I think they are rather special, and I really can't put into words why. The way they perform the cantatas is different from any other group.

Whenever I listen to my one and only CD of them (BWV 156, BWV 198 and BWV 8), I get the feeling that the music floats on air - it seems so totally without effort.

And I do like the altos, both Judith Malafronte and Steven Rickards (he is the only counter-tenor my husband can bear to listen to :o))

 

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BWV 232 - J. Thomas & ABS

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Last update: řApril 29, 2011 ř12:32:14