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John Eliot Gardiner & Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists
Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works
General Discussions - Part 14

Continue from Part 13

Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra Bach Cantata Series 22 February 2009

John Pike wrote (February 23, 2009):
Extract from e mail below:

Here is the first Bach release of 2009, Volume 20 of the series with Cantatas for Septuagesima and Sexagesima. The first of the two concerts was recorded in the Grote Kerk in Naarden, a spectacular church in Holland with a long-standing tradition of Bach performance (as alto Wilke te Brummelstroete explains in her artist comment), and it includes a lovely solo cantata for soprano, BWV 84 - Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Glücke beautifully sung by Swedish soprano Miah Persson.

The second concert was recorded in Southwell Minster and contains a couple of really unusual Cantatas, BWV 18 - Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt, scored for four violas and continuo, and BWV 181 - Leichtgesinnte Flattergeister, translated by Richard Stokes as "Frivolous fibbertigibbets"! I hope you enjoy them!

The CD will be shipped in the week beginning 2nd March.

David Jones wrote (February 23, 2009):
[To John Pike] I've already pre-ordered. I'm so glad he decided to use the Leipzig revival version of BWV 18 w/ recorders (transposed to A minor)

 

John Eliot Gardiner is SO GOOD I WANT TO SLAP HIM

David D. Jones wrote (March 6, 2009):
My copy of JEG's newest cantata pilgrimage volume came the mail today and I jumped out of my skin, pretty much. His interpretations of all three cantatas for sexaguisma are absolute gems; behold his dark, weighty, yet flexible choice of a soloist in "Frivolous Flutterspirits", his breathtakingly brilliant, combative tempo in "Erhalt Uns", the swirling snowflakes and rainclouds that will fill your room as yo listen to "Gleichwie..." Dazzling..........

 

NEW GARDINER RELEASE

David D. Jones wrote (June 24, 2009):
I have just listened to the samples from the new Gardiner release.........It's coming out in July, but it is already available for pre-order (and at a darn good price too) at www.hmv.com Go to www.solideogloria.co.uk and be enraptured and humbled by his luminous, solemn second recording of the great motet Der Gerechte kommt um, in which Bach (and the God he believed in) addresses the question "Why are the good people always the first to go?" Gardiner, always a wonderful handler of rhythm and tempo, dazzles us with a mixture of profundity and light joyous brilliance in the opening chorus of BWV 9 - Es ist das Heil uns kommen her, the chorale tune soaring over the deliciously elaborate texture in silvery, sharply etched vibratoless soprano tones. It never ceases to amaze me how Gardiner is able to control every strand and fabric of the choral texture...........

 

Forthcoming pilgrimage with a difference

Paul Johnson wrote (June 27, 2009):
The next Gardiner release, due in March, does two things that previous releases haven't: 1. it contains a non-vocal work by Bach (the 'triple' concerto, BWV 1044) and 2. a work by another composer (Schütz). Should be interesting.

Has anyone bough Gardiner's new Brandenburgs?

 

If this isn't the best value box set in the world...

Paul Johnson wrote (February 8, 2010):
...I don't know what is!

Incredibly priced, considering you get all the cantatas and the passions, mass in b minor, christmas oratorio etc.
http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product/NR_March10/4778735.htm

Thomas Shepherd wrote (February 8, 2010):
[To Paul Johnson] Are these all of the "missing" cantatas released before Gardiner parted company with Archiv?

Paul Johnson wrote (February 8, 2010):
[To Thomas Shepherd] They are, as far as i know, reissues of the cantatas previously available on archiv. some of them are pilgrimage recordings, but mostly they are not.

Thomas Shepherd wrote (February 8, 2010):
[To Paul Johnson] I've put my order in to mdt as I don't know any of these recordings.

David McKay [Australia] wrote (February 8, 2010):
[To Paul Johnson] Thanks for telling us about this, Paul.
I've ordered my copy.

Paul Johnson wrote (February 8, 2010):
[To David McKay] Great! (And hello to Australia). I use MDT a lot, actually. I think they're very good.
A real high point of this box-set for me would be the recording of BWV 199 with Magdelena Kozena. It's my favourite performance, even considering Lorraine Hunt Leiberson, which is also my favourite performance :-)

Vivat 205 wrote (February 8, 2010):
It's going to be available at Amazon on March 16 for $75: Amazon.com

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 8, 2010):
Cantatas plus on Archiv label [was: if this isn't the best value box set in the world...]

Paul Johnson wrote:
< ...I don't know what is!
Incredibly priced, considering you get all the cantatas and the passions, mass in b minor, christmas oratorio etc.

http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product/NR_March10/4778735.htm >
Not exactly. Caveat emptor. Not complete cantatas, not by a longshot. Also note the following from the MDT website (quoting Archiv?):

<The acclaimed readings of the major Bach choral works - “Primary choices for these works” – The Penguin Guide - are among the greatest recordings of our time. Here they are joined by 12 CDs of equally distinguished recordings of Bach cantatas, from Gardiner’s famous “pilgrimage” in 2000,> (end quote)

Archiv continues, rather than corrects, the misleading label information re the source of cantata recordings. I have summarized this information on other occasions; the accurate details are available in BCW archives (not to be confused with Archiv!). Four of the CDs will represent pilgrimage recordings, not yet scheduled for release on Gardiners SDG label, the other eight are recordings prior to the pilgrinmage series, some from as early as ca. 1991.

This set may well be an economical way to get the four missing pilgrimage CDs, along with other fine recordings. It is a bit of a stretch to call it the best value box set in the UK, let alone the world! For world value, check out the BRO (Berkshire Record Outlet) catalog. Archivs (or MDTs) ongoing misrepresentation of its Gardiner releases is reprehensible.

Paul Johnson wrote (February 9, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] Ed, I meant that this is simply a very economically good way to buy Gardiner's recorded output for DG. I didn't mention the Cantata Pilgrimage (I collect them, and know exactly what SDG release). But, as someone who has bought all of the Archiv CDs individually, and at full price, I was thrilled to think that others could have them for £30.

As for it being the 'best value box set in the world'...er...irony alert!

Neil Mason wrote (February 9, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< For world value, check out the BRO (Berkshire Record Outlet) catalog. >
Also check out zweitausendeins.de.

 

IT'S COMING

David D. Jones wrote (February 20, 2010):
Ah yes, it's that time again, when Gardiner shows himself brilliant. Vol. 2. of his fantastic series will be out shortly, but it's already available for preorder on www.hmv.com His discs routinely sell out, so grab this while it's hot. Hear his heartbreaking interpretation of the sinfonia and opening chorus of "Ich Hatte Berkummenis" on his website.....get your tissues out, you will weep Aryeh, we can put the cover on the website now...........LOL

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 20, 2010):
David Jones wrote:
< Ah yes, it's that time again, when Gardiner shows himself brilliant. Vol. 2. of his fantastic seriwill be out shortly, but it's already available for preorder on www.hmv.com >
Great news!

Also the Monteverdi productions website apparently had a much needed makeover. Looks fantastic now!

Thanks for the news David!

Paul Johnson wrote (February 21, 2010):
[To David Jones] As always, very much looking forward to this issue.

 

OK, so I cheated------Thoughts on the opening choruses of BWV 135 and BWV 10 (Gardiner)

David Jones wrote (March 4, 2010):
Hello all. I'm usually a lurker until it's time to worship at the Gardinerkirche, and the bells of the church are ringing since the release of the new CD. Financial difficulies kept me from pre-ordering like I usually do, but as soon as I get my tax return, off the order goes. As usual, those who do not use www.hmv.com (a uk order site) usually have to wait up to a month beyond the initial uk release date, which was a few days ago, but I found out that it's available for download right now and the utter craving for Gardiner overcame all patience and self control and I ended up downloading two opening choruses for 99 cents a piece; my general rule of thumb is to never download classical music unless its out of print; I'm a liner note nut, and I like the feeling of having an actual cd in my hands as opposed to having to start up my computer or whatever.......but as I said, I ended up breaking this rule. I'm an emotional mess. Gardiner is a freaking genius. There's no other way to put it. My first introduction to BWV 135 Ach Herr mich Armen Sunder was through a quasi HIP hodgepodge of a performance by that venerable old stalwart, Helmuth Rilling. To compare the two interpretations is to hear immediately the difference between someone fully committed to HIP performance and someone trying to walk a middle ground between modern pitch and instruments and historical instruments. In BWV 135 lessons on how to keep the tempo of a slowly paced movement flowing without losing solemnity or profundity and on absolute clarity, brilliance and lightness of choral texture.Paradoxically, the grief and sorrow of the repentant sinner glistens like tears through the silvery bright voices; bassi that are sonorous but not PONDEROUS carrying the cantus firmus, the floating oboe cantilena.....my heart is utterly broken. My first exposure to BWV 10 was in the musical examples section of our honorable website, through the poor man's performances of Leusink. Sometimes his opening choruses are so bad, the voices and textures so untidy I can barely get through 15 measures before I stop the download and run screaming to youtube for some Koopman, which is is exactly what I did in this case. Gardiner, of course, has Koopman beat. He manages to make his opening chorus even speedier without sacrificing a WHIT of musical accuacy and in so doing, conveys the utter joy and excitement of the Virgin Mary at being chosen to bring the Savior into the world.........LUMINOUS. Listen and discuss!

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (March 4, 2010):
David Jones wrote:
< Hello all. I'm usually a lurker until it's time to worship at the Gardinerkirche, and the bells of the church are ringing since the release of the new CD. Financial difficulies kept me from pre-ordering like I usually do, but as soon as I get my tax return, off the order goes. As usual, those who do not use www.hmv.com (a uk order site) usually have to wait up to a month beyond the initial uk release date, which was a few days ago, but I found out that it's available for download right now and the utter craving for Gardiner overcame all patience and self control and I ended up downloading two opening choruses for 99 cents a piece; my general rule of thumb is to never download classical music unless its out of print; I'm a liner note nut, and I like the feeling of having an actual cd in my hands as opposed to having to start up my computer or whatever.......but as I said, I ended up breaking this rule. I'm an emotional mess. Gardiner is a freaking genius. >
Thanks so much David for that heart-felt review ;) Your excitement certainly has me wishing the postman will deliver this CD from the UK in short order! Has anyone received their subscription copy yet?

Vivat 205 wrote (March 5, 2010):
<< Has anyone received their subscription copy yet? >>
Subscription copy?! I've been ordering the Gardiner CDs one-by-one from Presto all these years-what did I miss out on?!

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (March 5, 2010):
Vivat 205 wrote:
< Subscription copy?! I've been ordering the Gardiner CDs one-by-one from Presto all these years-what did I miss out on?! >
The subscription CDs are quite a bit cheaper than when you buy them from stores or online merchants. I think with postage included, they're about 29.00 USD. I've seen them retail for 44.00 at Barnes and Noble's classical section. The other advantage is you get the subscription releases in advance of retailers.

David Jones wrote (March 5, 2010):
[To Vivat 205] You could have gotten them DIRECTLY from www.solideogloria.co.uk in subscription and they would have been sent to you the minute they came out...............you would have saved money too.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 5, 2010):
Gardiner Pilgrimage series [was: OK, so I cheated------Thoughts on the opening choruses of BWV 135 and BWV 10 (Gardiner)]

Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< The subscription CDs are quite a bit cheaper than when you buy them from stores or online merchants. I think with postage included, they're about 29.00 USD. I've seen them retail for 44.00 at Barnes and Noble's classical section. The other advantage is you get the subscription releases in advance of retailers. >
When I subscribed a few years ago, I was able to order back issues at subscription prices. Perhaps this option is still available as the series nears completion, with the current release plus three more in 2010 all that remain.

David Jones wrote (March 5, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] They're cheapest when you buy them on www.hmv.com by pre-order. They usually have a pre order sale on Gardiner Cantata volumes....

Vivat 205 wrote (March 5, 2010):
Thanks, all for the subscription info--just when I thought I knew all that's knowable, I find in this forum that I don't!!! The latest release is inbound from Presto, and I guess I'll stick with them for the remaining three. Oh, well...

Drew (BWV 846-893) wrote (March 25, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] The (standard, two-disc) Gardiner Pilgrimage sets are also available at mdt.co.uk for less than J 12 (with the current exchange rate, about $17.75) + J 1.50 shipping (around $2.25).
http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product//SDG165.htm

I think MDT is currently the best online classical music vendor in the world -- in terms of prices, selection, and service.

Paul Johnson wrote (March 25, 2010):
[To Drew] I agree. I have used them for years - they are really excellent.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 26, 2010):
[To Drew] Useful information. I am happy with the quid or two extra (15 total, including transport) I paid for subscription convenience, but MDT does appear to be the best value for anyone looking to catch up, or to acquire selected releases.

Brad Lehman recently recommended the same vendor for the Leonhardt Jubilee edition at an incredibly low price; alas, it was no longer available (although still listed!) by the time I got there. I have bought a few items in the past, with excellent price and service, confirming the recommendation.

 

GARDINER REVISITED

David Jones wrote (March 24, 2010):
I have finally gotten my copy of volume two. Somebody scrape me off the floor.Gardiner's interpretation of Ich Hatte viel Bekummernis (BWV 21) is transcendent. His masterly instincts about tempo keeps this 11-movement work from dragging and keeps the initial five movements in C minor from being monotonous. Katharine Fuge takes soprano solos with a voice of lunar beauty.............Utterly breathtaking.

Vivat 205 wrote (March 24, 2010):
It is terrific, isn't it? But after you've recovered, listen to Koopman's and try to imagine having to decide which one you'd take to the mythical desert island with a CD player and a lifetime supply of batteries.

Paul Johnson wrote (March 24, 2010):
[To David Jones] I agree, David, it is stunning. Katharine Fuge is outstanding. A wonderful disc - with a very good 'triple' concerto to boot.

At another end of the interpretative scale, I just got the new Ricardo Chailly of the St Matthew Passion. Besides the fact that it fits onto 2 CDs, the other big surprise is that I really like it!

David Jones wrote (March 24, 2010):
[To Paul Johnson] Oh, Gardiner. I'm already decided. I listen to Koopman only when the unbearable tension of waiting for a Gardiner release starts to get to me and I have never heard a particular cantata before.....

Russell Telfer wrote (April 1, 2010):
Paul Johnson wrote:
< I agree, David, it is stunning. Katharine Fuge is outstanding. A wonderful disc - with a very good 'triple' concerto to boot.
At another end of the interpretative scale, I just got the new Ricardo Chailly of the St Matthew Passion. Besides the fact that it fits onto 2 CDs,
the other big surprise is that I really like it! >
I too agree. I heard her in Timothy Brown's SMP in November 2002 at St John's Smith Square, London, when she was less well known. The quality that particularly impressed me was her ability to articulate difficult passages in rapid succession - something that is so frequently demanded in the cantatas.

Another name I have mentioned before is Alison Hill, a soprano who has the ability to project tranlucent passages in the same way. I wonder if JEG will adopt her in due course.

Harry W. Crosby wrote (April 1, 2010):
The best 'Amen' I am able to add to the praise of Katharine Fuge can be heard and appreciated by listening to her rendition of the exquisite aria "How tremble and waver the sinner's thoughts" in BWV 105, the Arkiv recording of a Gardiner-led performance in 2000.

I believe that I have heard most other recordings of this aria, but never one that matched the beauty, grace, and empathy of Fuge's. Oddly, I found the remainder of that performance rather mediocre; my favorite overall is still that of Herreweghe.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 2, 2010):
BWV 105 [was: GARDINER REVISITED]

Harry W. Crosby wrote:
< The best 'Amen' I am able to add to the praise of Katharine Fuge can be heard and appreciated by listening to her rendition of the exquisite aria "How tremble and waver the sinner's thoughts" in BWV 105, the Arkiv recording of a Gardiner-led performance in 2000. >
I will add my Amen to the performance, but in the course of getting out the recording while listening to something else, I noticed this in Ruth Tatlow's booklet notes:

<When [Bach] was offered the post of Thomaskantor [...] he was faced with a difficult choice.>

A few minutes ago I posted some thoughts (from the work of many others) which implied that Bach had made that choice well in advance. Indeed, he actively prepared his keyboard works (Inventions, as well as WTC I) to demonstrate his teaching skills, for the Leipzig application. The preparation of WTC I included the increasingly famous Bach/Lehman squiggle on the cover.

The translation of BWV 105/3, the S aria Harry references, is satisfying from the Archiv CD notes, especially the first line:
<Trembling and dithering
The thoughts of sinners
lament to each other
and dare then to excuse themselves.>

I have posted many complaints about DG Archiv allowing their unique Gardiner pilgrimage releases to go out of print. I bought my copies of the four key editions from BROutlet, at appropriate outlet prices, several years ago. On that basis I assumed that DG had discontinued them. My recollecton is that they were not available at amazon.com at the time, but I recollect lots of stuff, some of it accurate.

Bottonm line: last time I looked (several weeks ago) they were available individually, as well as part of a complete set along with the DG Archiv non-pilgrimage releases from amazon.com. Apologies for any confusion, the essential point is that if you want the complete pilgrimage series, you still need to beg, borrow, steal, or if all else fails, buy, four (and only four) DG Archiv releases. The full set may be a decent value, and I believe includes a couple works not performed on the pilgrimage, but careful shopping is required to know what you are getting. Or as they used to say a couple thousand years ago, caveat emptor (buyer beware?).

Not exactly related, I have been listening to some MP3 files transferred from LPs, including Spaced Out Bach, courtesy of a BCML friend. I was reminded of Spaced Out by the Bachbusters and Switched-on thread. If you are reading this far, dont miss those publicity pics of Wendy Carlos, if you have not already visited her bio.

LP transfer to MP3 may be the future of the fine Cantate series from the 1960s, and other classic vinyl, although I believe Aryeh has determined that the Cantate tapes are in existnece, just not economically feasible to issue.

 

GARDINER AS GUEST

David Jones wrote (May 14, 2010):
Do you guys think that we could actually get Gardiner to speak to us through email for one of our cantatas? He thinks enough of this website to actually mention it in the liner notes of his recordings.........I would love for him to speak to us. What does the group think of this?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 14, 2010):
[To David Jones] I think that's a wonderful idea! Hear hear!

David McKay wrote (May 14, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Hear, hear!

 

Gardiner VOL.11.

David Jones wrote (May 21, 2010):
Areyh, there's an image of Gardiner's latest. You can add it now LOL.

 

GARDINER IS COMING!!!

David Jones wrote (May 21, 2010):
My vol. 11 is already on pre-order and we're only one week away from the release. His company has finally put sound samples up, and for those of us who are fans of Bach's opening choruses, we're in luck; the sound samples are almost all opening choruses. I am utterly entranced by the slow, diaphanous, ethereal dance he has made of Schmucke dich, o liebe Seele. The texture is so light, refined and airy as to suggest OVPP (he actually divides passages of the chorus between concertisten and ripienisten. It will be interesting to discuss how he came to the conclusion that the chorus called for such treatment) Aus tiefer Not takes us into grave, solemn and weighty territory, but Gardiner's sense of movement keeps his tempo, and the chorus itself from being pompous or overbearing in any way. His "touch" is absolutely marvelous. I recall his way with a simliarly serious chorus, Ah Lord, me a Poor Sinner in which the force of the movement was allowed to register without artificially dense textures or tempos........of course, if you haven't bought this release you should. I mean, like NOW.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 22, 2010):
David Jones wrote:
< (he actually divides passages of the chorus between concertisten and ripienisten. It will be interesting to discuss how he came to the conclusion that the chorus called for such treatment) >
I would be surprised of it was based on any historical evidence. Gardiner is a popularizer and often plays fast and loose with the score, as all great popularizers do. His Monteverdi recordings are full of "solo" and "tutti" assignments that have no foundation in the scores.

David Jones wrote (May 22, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] I'm not sure if I'd agree with your assesment. I find that the great majority of his musical decisions are rooted in historical practice and besides all this, they pass the ultimate test: They make the piece sound exactly as it should, for my ears anyway. In this particular case, I'm just wondering what led him to make the choice. It may be that difficult fugues, fugal passages, or contrapunctal passages were begun by those with more skill (concertisten) I'm just not sure, but it will make foan interesting discussion. As I said before, the chorus in question, Schmucke dich can be listened to (and recorded for later analysis if you have real player) on Gardiner's website. I'd like to get some feedback from other group members on the opening choruses he's posted.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 22, 2010):
David Jones wrote:
< I find that the greatmajority of his musical decisions are rooted in historical practice and besides all this, they pass the ultimate test: They make the piece sound exactly as it should, for my ears anyway. >
In the face of such subjectivity, we can't really continue to discuss other than to say if we like the performance or not. I know I'm in a minority on this list, but I've never liked his neo-Romantic approach to Baroque music. His choices in tempo, articulation and dynamics are eccentric and in the case of earlier music, particularly Monteverdi, too far outside the mainstream for me.

And I like Beecham's "Messiah"!

David Jones wrote (May 22, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] I really don't understand your comments about subjectivity, seeing as how the study of historically informed performance is an evolving art. There are a lot of holes that scholars are desperately trying to fill in all theories, from Rifkin's to Gardiner's, so until someone invents a time machine.......

Neil Halliday wrote (May 22, 2010):
David Jones wrote:
>I am utterly entranced by the slow, diaphanous, ethereal dance he has made of Schmucke dich, o liebe Seele. The texture is so light, refined and airy as to suggest OVPP (he actually divides passages of the chorus between concertisten and ripienisten.<
Agreed, this is a lovely performance of this beautiful chorus.
http://www.solideogloria.co.uk/recordings/forthcoming.cfm

Interestingly, the tempo (6.53) is about midway between Rilling (6.11) and Richter (8.05); in this example Gardiner has the moderate tempo, and it works well.

Are you sure Gardiner is using concertists in this chorus?

At times I hear certain voices dominating the choral texture, especially in the basses and tenors, but I can't identify any clear division between sections using concertists and ripienists, and in this particular chorus there does not seem to be any obvious places where one might sensibly divide between concertists and ripienists.

As a general principal, division between concertists and ripienists, where appropriate or effective, seems reasonable even from a historical perspective, since Bach himself has indicated such in a few cantatas.
--------
The BWV 38 sample is also very pleasing, with well-recorded trombones colouring the chorus.
--------
BWV 98 displays a mannerism not to my liking - exaggerated (to my ears) dynamic inflexion on some (longer) notes on the violins in the ritornellos; otherwise very nice.
--------
Would the BWV 162 duet be better without the "noise/buzz" from the harpsichord?

David Jones wrote (May 22, 2010):
[To Neil Halliday] To me, the opening contrapunctal/imitative passages seem to be sung by concertisten.....but perhaps my ears are fooling me. The texture is so soft and bright.......well....perhaps it's sopranos (whole section) for the cantus firmus and OVPP for the weaving of the parts below. The texture is impossibly fine-spun. If that's NOT what he's doing, then the sound he achieved is an even further marvel.

Uri Golomb wrote (May 22, 2010):
I have a mixed perspective on Gardiner's approach to Bach. On the one hand, I count myself among Gardiner's (qualified) admirers. At his best, I find him moving and illuminating - in repertoire ranging from Monteverdi and Carissimi, through Bach and Mozart, to Britten and Stravinsky.

For all this, I agree - at least in part - with Doug's description of Gardiner's approach to Bach as "neo-romantic". Defining what constitutes romanticism in Bach performance is not always easy - Gardiner joins a notable list of Bach interpreters (including Klemperer, Richter and Harnoncourt) who have been described as both Romantic and anti-Romantic. To the best of my judgement, Gardiner's aesthetics are a mixture of historical and personalized features, many of the latter influenced by romantic aesthetics. Curiously, his performances of Monteverdi and Bach sometimes strike me as more romanticized than his performances of Schumann and Brahms... His choices of tempo, articulation and so forth are certainly influenced by the lessons of performance-practice research, but they are also affected by romantic habits. His huge dynamic waves, for example - long-range, high-voltage crescendi and diminuendi - seem to owe more to romantic than to baroque thinking. And I too have great suspicions about the historical credibility of his scoring choices in Monteverdi's Vespers.

But curiously, the performances I admire most are often the most romantic! I guess it's because, even if his choices are a-historical and go beyond or against the composer's intentions, they still don't strike me as arbitrary. They are related to patterns of tension and relaxation, of expressive ebb-and-flow, within the music. He exposes hidden strands within the texture, enlivens the music's architecture and its drama. His interpretations don't seem imposed - they may not arise naturally from the music, but they do seem grounded in a deep understanding of it. This includes the rhetorical element - whereas old-school romantic conductors (like Jochum) often ignore the expressive import of localised figures and gestures, Gardiner is acutely aware of them. He highlights them in a way that may strike some listeners (myself not included) as highly exaggerated, but he doesn't simply ride over them.

I like Gardiner least when he is streamlined and inexpressive, when he seems rushed - not in terms of tempo (though he can be extremely rushed in that sense as well), but in terms of not having given enough thought to the music. But it's precisely at those moments that he is least romantic.

I don't think Gardiner is unique in any of this. Other examples I can think of are Harnoncourt (especially since the 1980s - not so much in his earlier recordings), Thomas Hengelbrock, Jeffrey Thomas, and others. I should add that, with all of these, there are particular moments that do strike me as arbitrary and imposed (more so with Harnoncourt than with Gardiner!), but more often they not, I do find them convincing - or at the very least illuminating.

But then, I have an abiding affection to Bach on the piano, to Hermann Scherchen's Art of Fugue, to Eugen Jochum's B-minor Mass, etc. I am sure that directors like Rifkin, Parrott, Kuijken and Junghänel (who differ significantly from each other!) come closer to Bach's intentions - and not just in terms of scoring. And I greatly enjoy their performances, too. I sometimes wish that people like Gardiner would change their self-image - that they'd be more frank about the a-historical features in their performances. But my objection to their self-presentation doesn't stop me from enjoying their performances.

David Jones wrote (May 23, 2010):
[To Uri Golomb] Perhaps thinking of Gardiner as "romantic" comes from the idea that classical or baroque music should be interpreted and performed with a kind of objective reserve, as if we should deny Bach his portion of sensuous beauty and dynamic movement.........I can only disagree with Uri's assesment, but I find his arguments interesting and compelling.

David Jones wrote (May 23, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] if by "foundation in the score" you mean what's written, that's a flimsy argument to use for the interpretation of Baroque music. So many of the colors and textures that make Baroque music come alive were improvised.

Uri Golomb wrote (May 22, 2010):
David Jone wrote:
"Perhaps thinking of Gardiner as 'romantic' comes from the idea that classical or baroque music should be interpreted and performed with a kind of objective reserve, as if we should deny Bach his portion of sensuous beauty and dynamic movement"
Well, not quite. It's a question of meof expression. I don't think that Konrad Junghänel, for example, is less expressive or dramatic than Gardiner; but they achieve expression with different means. According to David Schulenberg, "the chief distinction between Baroque and later expression may be that in [the former] the signs are small figures in the surface, while in later music the signs take the form of larger music processes, such as the extended crescendo or the prolonged dissonance". I don't entirely agree with this: in particular, I don't think there's necessarily a contradiction between the two. Gardiner often succeeds in bringing out both the "small figures" and the "larger music processes"; but when he gives precedence to the latter over the former, the effect is somewhat romanticized.

Then there's the question of scoring. Gardiner employs a chamber choir and orchestra, but ones that are still considerably larger than what Bach had in mind (I find Rifkin's - and others' - historical arguments for one-per-part vocal scoring thoroughly convincing). Gardiner still seems to believe that Bach's music requires large-scale contrasts and choral sonorities to make its effect; the idea that intense expression can be achieved using chamber-scale forces doesn't really appeal to him. He doesn't seem to accept it even in Monteverdi's music, where theatrical intensity has long been associated with consorts of solo singers (Monteverdi performance became more intense - not less - when it moved from so-called madrigal choirs to madrigal consorts). In this area, Gardiner clearly exhibits anachronistic, romantic thinking.

My working definition of a 'romantic' Bach performance is a performance which exhibits anachronistic performance style, a clear quest for emotional expression and a personalised, idiosyncratic approach. For me, a performance has to exhibit all three characteristics before I'd describe it as "romantic"; a performance can certainly be intensely expressive without being romantic. In fact, an inexpressive performance of baroque music would almost certainly be anachronistic, exhibiting a strict literalism and rigidity that is far removed from baroque aesthetics.

And of course there will be always be a difference of opinion on what constitutes anachronism (or expression or idiosyncrasy for that matter). Gardiner's use of a full-fledged choir is certainly anachronistic, in my view; and I suspect his huge dynamic waves are also anachronistic. (Not, I hasten to add, the use of crescendo and diminuendi _per se_ - I don't subscribe to the "terraced dynamics" theory, and neither do most historical performers; it's the magnitude of Gardiner's more extreme dynamic waves - from pianissimo to fortissimo - which might be anachronistic).

I also emphasize, again, that I don't object to anachronisms in the performance of historical music in general, or Bach in particular. Some specific anachronisms irk me; but definitely not all. Bach's music can thrive on modes of performance that wouldn't have occurred to the composer himself (and which he might - or might not - have rejected had he encountered them).

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 23, 2010):
Uri Golomb wrote:
< Gardiner often succeeds in bringing out both the "small figures" and the "larger music processes"; but when he gives precedence to the latter over the former, the effect is somewhat romanticized. >
Gardiner always has an "interpretation" which reveals itself in a particular choice in tempo, articulation or dynamic. These interpretative choices are often highly idiosyncratic. A good example is Dido's lament, "When I Am Laid", the final aria in Purcell's "Dido And Aeneas" The aria is built over a repeated chromatic ostinato which presents the aria's "affect" in the first bar. Gardiner turns it into a Wagnerian leitmotif by having the cellos and basses play it piannissimo without any keyboard realization even though the figures are in the score. And the tempo is so slow that there is almost no forward momentum -- it reminded me of the "Sleep" motif in "Die Walküre". I thought the whole performance was eccentric and self-referential.

And lest I be accused of promoting bloodless, soulless purism, I would point to Robert King and the King's Consort as the other end of the spectrum. He has wonderful singers and players but they are on auto-pilot, utterly detached and disinterested in the music. His performance of Handel's "Joshua" is astonishingly tepid. I thought it impossible, but his large period orchestra including trumpets, horns and bass timpani manages to make the Fall of the Walls of Jericho -- one of the most spectacular moments in Baroque oratorio -- sound inconsequential,

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 23, 2010):
Uri Golomb wrote:
< I am sure that directors like Rifkin, Parrott, Kuijken and Junghänel (who differ significantly from each other!) come closer to Bach's intentions ? and not just in terms of scoring. And I greatly enjoy their performances, too. I sometimes wish that people like Gardiner would change their self-image ? that they'd be more frank about the a-historical features in their performances. But my objection to their self-presentation doesn't stop me from enjoying their performances. >
I find Uris points clearly expressed, and I agree in almost all instances. Kuijken is my preference to experience current understanding of authentic performance practice, but the funding for ongoing releases is a matter of continual negotiation, as I understand it, and there are no prospects for a complete set.

In fairness to Gardiner, I believe that he has already met Uris request, more or less. Each SDG release contains his statement:
<The recordings which make up this series were a corollary of the concerts, not their raison d etre. They are a faithful document of the pilgrimage, though never intended to be a definitive stylistic or musicological statement. [...] The music on these recordings is very much live in the sense that it is a true reflection of what happened on the night, of how the performers reacted to the music (often brand new to them), and of how the church locations and the audience affected our response.>

Granted, this is probably not Gardiners self-image in all his releases, it is specific to the pilgrimage series. I appreciate the statements of reasons behind posted objections, including references to other Baroque composers, Monteverdi in particular. I continue to enjoy the ongoing Bach pilgrimage releases by Gardiner, though not necessarily more than Suzuki (in a similar interpretive vein) or Kuijken (in a more authentic vein). We are fortunate to be blessed with so many listening options.

 

TWO SPECTACULAR REASONS TO GET YOUR GARDINER FROM OVERSEAS AT hmv.com

David Jones wrote (May 27, 2010):
Reason No. 1. Exchange rate and all, even including shipping, the SDG cds are ten to twenty dollars cheaper. In stores, they sell for about $40 a pop. The latest volume is being sent to me as I type and I got it from hmv, grabbing a pre-order sale. Price? 23.65

Reason number two. Even with Naxos on board for distribution, SDG cds take about a month longer to be released on this side of the pond. That means a cd available in the uk in April woudn't be released here until may. One way of circumventing that is that it seems that the mp3 albums (which I don't buy) might be available earlier than the cd hard copies, then again, that might just be a fluke that I experienced.

 

MY GARDINER THOUGHTS PLUS......

David Jones wrote (June 4, 2010):
My vol. 11 came in the mail and I'm stunned, as usual, by Gardiner's interpretive power and his musical intuition. My first encounter with BWV 162 was, unfortunately, the mp3 of Leusink's impossibly messy reading. Only with Gardiner could I grasp the full beauty of the opening aria, it's solemn, heart searching words and long sinuous melodic line. Schmucke dich, o liebe Seele's opening chorus was beatific; I have already written about the impossibly fine-spun texture that Gardiner was somehow able to create; the second movement evoked impossibly brilliant, lighthearted flute playing from Rachel Beckett [?]. In his liner notes, Gardiner compares this movement to the badinerie in Bach's B-Minor suite, and with the tempo he set, the comparison he drew was clearer than ever. God bless Beckett for being able to keep up. For me, the jewel of this set was I Believe O Lord, Help My Unbelief! I enjoy Bach's use of "vocal registration" with his alternating concertisten and ripienisten passages. Gardiner stretches the tempo taut like a rubber band; the emotional weight and intensity he generates are almost unbearable. Joanne Lunn's lone, silvery soprano, representative of the faith/soul of the wavering believer soars in the opening line "I believe dear Lord!" with the community of believers, shaken, unsettled and doubting (choir) replying "Help my unbelief!" Lunn's ethereal opening statement is followed by the lunar alto of William Towers and the warm tenor and bass of Paul Agnew and Gotthold Schwarz respectively. The chromatic lines, alternately hopeful and despairing, break the heart..........I am in awe.

Onto other business........How does the group feel about doing a chat at some point? I'd be nice to interact with group members in "real time" as opposed to just over emails..........we could set up a chat room and do it........what do you guys think?

Vivat205 wrote (June 7, 2010):
Mine came Friday from Presto, and of course I dropped everything to listen to it immediately. It was a superbly played and sung letdown: No rousing complex choral sections, no blazing trumpets, no dramatic percussion...

David Jones wrote (June 7, 2010):
[To Vivat205] are you talking about the pieces themselves or are you talking about interpretation? The opening chorus of "Schumucke dich" isn't contrapunctally complex enough for you? Seriously? The contrasting concertisten and ripieniesten singing in "Ich Glaube"??? Well, at least it's an issue to take up with Bach and not Gardiner. I'm sorry you didn't like the cantatas for the 21st and 22nd Sundays; of course, you might have liked one of the 300 lost cantatas. Alas, we'll never know.

 

The end of the pilgrimage

Laurent Lehmann wrote (September 30, 2010):
The final volumes (#12 and #18) of Gardiner's pilgrimage arrived in my mailbox today. Ten years after the live performances (almost eleven - vol. 18 was recorded in December 1999/January 2000...). What a long, wonderful trip it's been...

I'll have a busy week-end.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (September 30, 2010):
[To Laurent Lehmann] Indeed, I got them today too.

I wrote something on my blog about the series:
http://www.mcelhearn.com/2010/09/30/some-thoughts-on-john-eliot-gardiners-bach-cantata-pilgrimage-series/

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 30, 2010):
I'm curious -- does SDG include the previously released cantatas on the DG-Archiv label that were released in 2000/2001?
Those were the CDs with the covers of Bach's face cleverly masked over black and white images of German cities.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (September 30, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] No, and they haven't yet said if they'll be releasing them. They're in a 22-CD box set of Bach's sacred music recorded by Gardiner (I link to it in this article: http://bit.ly/9flKTx).

Laurent Lehmann wrote (September 30, 2010):
[To Kirk McElhearn] Doesn't seem to be in the plans. SDG's latest newsletter simply mentions upcoming recordings of the motets and and Ascension cantatas, and a release of the 2000 Christmas Oratorio :

________________________________________________________
"I want to thank you once more for having accompanied us all the way through this project, and to reassure you that there will be much more Bach coming on SDG: we are planning to record the Motets in 2011, the Ascension Cantatas, which we didn't record in 2000 and much more – I haven't forgotten the many requests for the Christmas Oratorio recorded in 2000, so I shall now go and unearth those master tapes! "
________________________________________________________

So the Archiv 22-CD box still makes a perfect companion to the SDG series.

Laurent Lehmann wrote (September 30, 2010):
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< I wrote something on my blog about the series: >
Ah, I see I wasn't the only one who thought about the Dead while reflecting back on the Cantata Pilfrimage.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (September 30, 2010):
[To Laurent Lehmann] Ha!

It really came to me when I saw the documentary on the Christmas Oratorio DVD, how much they were "on the bus" and just flitting from city to city to play their gigs… Especially because of the intense nature and length of the tour.

I wish I could have seen one of their shows. (Gardiner, that is: I saw the Dead many times.)

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 1, 2010):
Laurent Lehmann wrote:
<< Ah, I see I wasn't the only one who thought about the Dead while reflecting back on the Cantata Pilfrimage. >>
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< It really came to me when I saw the documentary on the Christmas Oratorio DVD, how much they were "on the bus" and just flitting from city to city to play their gigs. >

EM:
From Kirks blog:
<Now, I’m a Deadhead; a fan of the Grateful Dead, the quintessential live band of the 60s and 70s (and on through to the 90s), that toured constantly, and that proved that live music, with its spontaneity, is truly unique. My equating the Gardiner Bach Cantata Pilgrimage with a Grateful Dead tour may sound odd to some readers, but those familiar with the two worlds will see the links.>

EM:
Like Kirk, I am familiar with the Gardiner Pilgrimage only through recordings. I have survived much more of the Dead experience, both on CD and Gratefully (still) Alive.

From Kirks blog, again:
<And, to get a taste of Bach’s sacred music, there’s a 22-CD box set of John Eliot Gardiner conducting Bach’s passions, his B minor mass, and a number of cantatas, including the five discs worth of cantatas from the Pilgrimage that Deutsche Grammophon originally released (and which SDG did not release; so if you want the entire series, you need to get this box in addition to the SDG recordings.)>

EM:
I Have taken the liberty of citing from the blog, because of the critical issues for completeness of the Pilgrimage recording series. We have discussed this in the past, and I believe details are adequately archived on BCW, and in the discography.

There are four (as Kirk accurately states earlier, not the five in the above citation) DG Archiv Pilgrimage releases not otherwise available:
Cantatas for the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany
for the Feast of the Purification of Mary
for the 9th Sunday after Trinity
for the 11th Sunday after Trinity.

The last time I checked, a few months ago, these were still available as individual releases, as well as part of the 22 CD DG Archiv set.

It is clear (although not directly stated) from the Monteverdi communications that they do not have the option of providing these CDs as part of their series. These four are available in one format or the other (individual or box set) only from DG.

As Kim noted in a related post, the cover art for the DG releases is both clever and attractive. Worth seeking out for that reason alone, even if only through illustrations on the BCW discography pages.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (October 1, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I Have taken the liberty of citing from the blog, because of the critical issues for completeness of the Pilgrimage recording series. We have discussed this in the past, and I believe details are adequately archived on BCW, and in the discography.
There are four (as Kirk accurately states earlier, not the five in the above citation) DG Archiv Pilgrimage releases not otherwise available:
Cantatas for the
3rd Sunday after Epiphany
for the
Feast of the Purification of Mary
for the
9th Sunday after Trinity
for the
11th Sunday after Trinity. >
I'll fix that; you're right.

< The last time I checked, a few months ago, these were still available as individual releases, as well as part of the 22 CD DG Archiv set.
It is clear (although not directly stated) from the Monteverdi communications that they do not have the option of providing these CDs as part of their series. These four are available in one format or the other (individual or box set) only from DG. >
I had an email communication with them some time ago when they did not rule out the possibility.

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 1, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
<< It is clear (although not directly stated) from the Monteverdi communications that they do not have the option of providing these CDs as part of their series. These four are available in one format or the other (individual or box set) only from DG. >>
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< I had an email communication with them some time ago when they did not rule out the possibility. >
Yes, I also recall some communications from a few years (+/-) ago, suggesting that Monteverdi intended to publish the complete pilgrimage series on their own SDG label, including reissue of the four CDs from DG Archiv. The most recent notice, announcing completion of the series, is ominously silent on that topic, from which I drew my conclusion.

I should also have included the caveat regarding the individual CDs on DG, that the four genuine pilgrimage releases are interspersed in a group which also includes eight earlier studio recordings. All have similar clever and attractive cover art, and are labeled on the CD spine Bach Cantata Pilgrimage. This would have been deceptive in any case, but it is especially so, given that DG abandoned the project so quickly.

This does not take away from the fine quality of the recordings, both studion and concert performance.

Mike Mannix wrote (October 4, 2010):
Laurent Lehman wrote:
< The final volumes (#12 and #18) of Gardiner's pilgrimage arrived in my mailbox today. Ten years after the live performances (almost eleven - vol. 18 was recorded in December 1999/January 2000...). What a long,
wonderful trip it's been...
I'll have a busy week-end. >
Was anyone else in this group fortunate enough to join the 'pilgrimage'?

Sorry to boast, but I was on Iona for the 250th anniversary commemoration with perf of Actus Tragicus (BWV 106) etc.

There were no microphones so I assumed that any actual recording had been done earlier during the day OR that the performances were purely representational and that the released recordings were planned as studio productions.

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 5, 2010):
Mike Mannix wrote:
< There were no microphones so I assumed that any actual recording had been done earlier during the day OR that the performances were purely representational and that the released recordings were planned as studio productions. >
The Gardiner CD which includes BWV 106 was released on DG Archiv as part of its aborted Bach Cantata Pilgrimage series. Actual recording was in 1989 (see BCW recordings page).

One additional detail which is available in the BCW discography, but worthy of special caveat: The Easter (Monday) Cantatas BWV 6 and BWV 66 were released on DG Archiv, recorded in 1999, not as part of the pilgrimage. The same two works were also performed as part of the pilgrimage in year 2000, with completely different soloists. Those performances are correctly included in the Monteverdi SDG series.

At one point a few years ago I noticed the overlap, but not the details, and jumped to the erroneous conclusion that there was evidence that the DG Archiv releases would be repeated, and that the SDG series would ultimatley represent the complete pilgrimage performances. I may have posted at that time to BCW, to that effect. Alas, it is now clearly incorrect. A monumental achievement nonetheless, both in performance and in recorded documentation.

Peter Smaill wrote (October 5, 2010):
[To Mike Mannix] Indeed Mickey was not the only BCW member at the 250th anniversary concert by Sir John Eliot Gardiner on Iona. I had gone for the prior day being warned of huge crowds for the actual "Todestag"; but in the event it was so wonderful and accessible I returned from nearby Mull the next day complete with a rather outdated video camera. The results do not do justice to JEG' s performance; but there was no official camera or recording crew there so it is perhaps a rare record of the event and so it has gone on to Youtube as well as being accessible via BCW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PD0nkgY7FOY

Apart from BWV 118, BWV 161, BWV 106 and Melchoir Hoffmann's "Schlage doch" (BWV 53), there was performed "Der Gerechte kömmt um" (reworking of the motet by Kuhnau) and BWV 668, "Vor deinen Thron", set for choir and orchestra. It would be an attractive idea for this exact programme to be performed and recorded in studio conditions at some date.

Friday July 28th 2000 was as I recall (unusual for the West of Scotland) a brilliant summer's day and the interaction of the music with the remote beauty of the sacred island of Iona was an unforgettable experience. JEG had considered Leipzig but only an hour's slot might have been available. He selected a programme much removed from the blockbuster celebrations in the great capitals of Europe, where the B Minor Mass (BWV 232) was the usual choice. Instead we had much early Bach and an intimate atmosphere which richly repaid JEG's gamble in going to the faraway island on the edge of the Atlantic.

 

PDF of Gardiner cantatas series listing

Kirk McElhearn wrote (October 12, 2010):
The last two volumes of the series include a listing of the releases, by album and by number. There's a PDF online of this listing: http://www.solideogloria.co.uk/resources/sdg_cantatas_index.pdf

 

Interview with John Eliot Gardiner about the cantata pilgrimage

Kirk McElhearn wrote (November 2, 2010):
http://www.bbcmusicmagazine.com/feature/meet-artists/sir-john-eliot-gardiner

 

BBC Music Magazine Interviews w/ Cantata Cycle Conductors

Vivat205 wrote (November 6, 2010):
The newly-arrived issue has a good article containing interviews with Gardiner, Rilling, Suzuki, and Koopman (but, curiously, not with Harnoncourt) about their experiences recording complete JSB cantata cycles. I was interested in the comment that the Suzuki cycle has been underway for nearly 20 years and is only about halfway done! Given that vol. 47 is just out (mine arrived today), I wonder when we can expect that cycle to be completed?! (Oops-originally posted this to the JSB Recordings Group by mistake- sorry for the duplication for those who belong to both groups).

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (November 6, 2010):
[To Vivat205] I recall that the Suzuki cycle was releasing albums at a pretty slow pace for quite sometime, particularly around 2000, when the classical recording industry was hit with a major slow down of sales world wide. I don't know if the impacted BIS Records, and it could have been purely coincidental. But they have picked up the pace quite a bit and it seems like at least two or three CDs are being released per year now, plus the ensemble does have other projects to work on. Since all of the recordings are done in Tokyo, the production costs have to be
astronomical.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (November 6, 2010):
[To Vivat205] According to a recent email exchange with Robert von Bahr, the head of Bis, around mid-2013. There will be a total of 55 discs for the sacred cantatas.

 

New Gardiner interview

Laurent Lehmann wrote (November 2, 2010):
Gardiner's last pilgrimage records are "Record of the month" in this month French magazine Diapason - and Gaëtan Naulleau's review clearly celebrates not only those specific recordings, but the whole pilgrimage, with brief but insightful comments.

This issue also features a 2-pages interview with Gardiner, where he gives some news about his next projects :

- He's working on a book about Bach ("Not a biography. I've selected twelve themes"). Publisher expects manuscript before Summer.

- He wants to record the motets, but needs a sponsor to afford to do so.

- New recordings of the Passions or the b-minor Mass (BWV 232): he wants to play those live, doesn't want to lock himself up in a studio to record them. Could be convinced by Isabella to publish the 2006 Norddeutscherundfunk recording of the Johannes-Passion (BWV 245).

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 26, 2010):
Laurent Lehmann wrote:
< Gardiner's last pilgrimage records are "Record of the month" in this month French magazine Diapason - and Gaëtan Naulleau's review clearly celebrates not only those specific recordings, but the whole pilgrimage, with brief but insightful comments. >
Perhaps it is appropriate to call the entire project Record of the Change of the Millenium? It is Thanksgiving weekend here in USA, forgive my exhuberance.

LL:
< - He's working on a book about Bach ("Not a biography. I've selected twelve themes"). Publisher expects manuscript before Summer.
- He wants to record the motets, but needs a sponsor to afford to do so. >
EM:
Perhaps he needs a lawyer (solicitor), as well, to get those Ascension Cantatas from the actual pilgrimage recordings (see current discussion topic, including BWV 128 and related) published, to end the confusion with the older (excellent!) DG Archiv issues.

The thought just occurred to me: I hope the issue is not that the earlier Ascension recordings are in fact preferred? Sheer speculation: I will ge kind and assume the legal, rather than esthetic, delay.

Needs a sponsor? Just find a government agency to print a few more notes? Easier than finding a few more folks to buy a CD.

Forest Chav wrote (November 26, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Needs a sponsor? Just find a government agency to print a few more notes? Easier than finding a few more folks to buy a CD. >
I think the Government are too skint for that right now.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 27, 2010):
[To Forest Chav] Never too skint for war, no? Just ask Schütz, or Bach.

 

Info re Gardiner's cantatas

Kirk McElhearn wrote (December 31, 2010):
An e-mail received this morning:

"We haven't forgotten the promise to record the Ascension Cantatas - which we are struggling to schedule at the moment but will definitely come - and we are still in discussions to acquire the cantatas released on Deutsche Grammophon (although probably most of you will already own them....), but for the time being I can announce that this spring we shall be releasing a live recording of the St. John Passion recorded in the Königslutter Dom in 2003, with Mark Padmore as the Evangelist and many of the BCP main soloists as well as Bernarda Fink. We are also planning to record the Motets in the autumn, which will be released the following year. "

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 1, 2011):
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< An e-mail received this morning:
"We haven't forgotten the promise to record the Ascension Cantatas - which we are >struggling to schedule at the moment but will definitely come[...] >
From Gardiners notes to Vol. 25, Cantatas for the Sunday after Ascension Day (Exaudi), recorded at Sherborne Abbey:
<[...] you could sense the musicians spirits lift as they made their way into the Abbey following last weeks Ascension Day cantatas in the impressive but chilly sobriety of Salisbury Cathedral, thirty miles to the east.> (end quote)

No chance that this is a misunderstanding, re last week, as the previous Sunday was recorded in Dresden. The Ascension Day cantatas appear to have been performed as part of the pilgrimage, on what must have been an especially hectic schedule. Either they were not recorded, or more likely, recordings are not suitable for release? Additional info most welcome.

The Ascension Day cantatas are available as a convenient grouping on DG Archiv (see recent BCW discussion and discography), but most definitely not recordings from the pilgrimage.

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 1, 2011):
[To Kirk McElhearn & Ed Myskowski[ The concert of the PCP on Ascension Day (June 1, 2000) at Salisbury Cathedral is the only one which was not recorded. The plan is to re-perform and record the same cantatas during 2011 with the same soloists who participated in the original BCP concert.
See the complete list of the BCP concerts at:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Gen12.htm

BTW, all the notes and recoding details of the BCP albums are available at:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec2.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec3.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec4.htm

The notes would be added later to the relevant cantata pages

Happy New Year!

 

New Yorker: The Book of Bach - April 11, 2011

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 6, 2011):
MUSICAL EVENTS: The Book of Bach - The Bach Collegium Japan, and John Eliot Gardiner by Alex Ross, APRIL 11, 2011 (The New Yorker)

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 7, 2011):
I enjoyed the description of the velvet cavern of Carnegie Hall. Perhaps it is just all those folks and their winter garments?

A few years back, when Bostons Jordan Hall was refurbished and repainted, we all complained that it had become too edgy. David Hoose, who conducted the BMM there a couple weeks ago, assured us back then: <Relax, it just needs to accumulate a few years of grime.> Or words to that effect. Seems he was correct.

His BMM was in the traditional range, with a chorus of about forty and orchestra somewhat less. Soloists audible and nicely balanced, with each other and with the chorus. An orchestra of enthisiastic Boston free-lancers is not to be missed, if you ever have the opportunity. Not exactly something to write to the world about, but I would not miss it for the world.

I was happy to see that Mr. Ross in the New Yorker categorized Gardiner and Suzuki, along with Herreweghe, as middle-path. I meant to mention that very point in the comments I just sent re Herrewehghe, in BWV 176.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 7, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I enjoyed the description of the velvet cavern of Carnegie Hall. Perhaps it is just all those folks and their winter garments? >
I've been there when it's warm, and so no- it's not the winter garments ;)

I think Carnegie Hall is one of the most perfect rooms I've ever heard an orchestra perform in. I heard J.E. Gardiner perform the Haydn "The Creation" a year ago. Beautiful performance.

In my hometown of Hampton Virginia, Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), Odgen Hall was designed by the same architects and conductors would never cease to marvel at the venue's acoustic too. I've seen The Hanover Band with Roy Goodman and The Wallace Collection perform there, and absolutely stunning performances ;)

http://jphes.com/jphmain/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/ogden-04.jpg has a photo.

Eric Basta (April 7, 2011):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] I believe Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan were consulted for the acoustics of Carnegie Hall - Adler was known for theater design with great acoustics (the Auditorium and Garrick theaters in Chicago for example). Adler and Sullivan also believed that true music lovers sat in cheaper seats so the acoustics in those seats were especially good.

 

John Eliot Gardiner Seeks Funding to Record and Release Bach’s Ascension Cantatas

Kirk McElhearn wrote (March 20, 2012):
John Eliot Gardiner Seeks Funding to Record and Release Bach’s Ascension Cantatas (Kirkville)

Fill in the hole in your cantata pilgrimage series...

 

OT: BBC JEG Bach programme

Chris Stanley wrote (April 1, 2013):
For those who are able to see BBC iplayer programmes, we were treated to 1 and a half hours of sheer bliss on Saturday evening: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01rrgg6/Bach_A_Passionate_Life/

George Bronley wrote (April 1, 2013):
[To Chris Stanley] Yes, what a fantastic experience,

 

NY Times Article about John Eliot Gardiner

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 8, 2013):
NY Times: "Crops and Music, Each in Its Season": http://tinyurl.com/ctsjglq

 

JEG's Bach marathon in the Albert Hall

Neil Halliday wrote (April 19, 2013):
No comments on this? (In all, nine hours of music, I believe).

The conclusion (which I heard on radio last night) was a truly magnificent performance of the BMM.

Sir John brought passion in spades to this vast work.

Lovely solo voices with minimal vibrato, thereby taking on a more instrumental nature that combine most naturally and pleasingly with the (obbligati) instruments.

Wonderful attention to detail and balance between all the parts. Clarity of vocal and instrumental lines. Loads of power. (Period violins typically a bit weak, but thankfully only occasionally).

Above all, a Sanctus to transport the human race to heaven, not that we deserve it.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 19, 2013):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Above all, a Sanctus to transport the human race to heaven, not that we deserve it. >
Albert Einstein is reported to have said: "The only things which are infinite are the universe and human stupidity, and I am actually not certain about the universe."

Aloha (no matter what!), Ed Myskowski, writing from the neighborhood of the Boston Massacre (2013 version), a marathon of a different stripe.

 

Gardiner Documentary

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 5, 2013):
If you haven't seen Gardiner's Bach documentary .
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UiQbppQq54E

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 6, 2013):
Gardiner Bach Documentary: Choral version of "Vor deinem Thron"

Towards the end of the Gardiner documentary, Gardiner is shown conducting a choral version of Bach's final chorale-prelude, "Vor deinem Thron".

I assume this is his own confection.

 

John Eliot Gardiner and Peter Wollny to lead the Bach Archive Leipzig from 2014

Charles Francis wrote (July 13, 2013):
Sir John Eliot Gardiner and PD Dr. Peter Wollny to lead the Bach Archive Leipzig from 2014 (Bach-Archiv Leipzig)

On January 1, 2014, Sir John Eliot Gardiner will become President of the Bach Archive Foundation. The function of Foundation president is a newly created one aimed at underscoring the internationally leading role of the Bach Archive and developing it further. Leipzig's mayor Burkhard Jung succeeded in winning over one of the world's leading interpreters of eighteenth-century music for this task during Bachfest Leipzig 2013 in the shape of Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Gardiner's profound academic knowledge of the life and work of Bach make him predestined for the function of Foundation president and by extension an internationally respected ambassador of Bach research in Leipzig.

PD Dr. Peter Wollny will succeed Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Christoph Wolff in the post of director. Wolff (73) has been the director of the Bach Archive since 2001 and will be leaving the post for personal reasons at the end of 2013. Wollny, who completed his doctorate under Wolff's supervision at Harvard University in 1993 and took up a professorship at Universität Leipzig in 2009, is regarded as a leading Bach scholar. As director of the Bach Archive, he will be setting new priorities for research, the library and museum, as well as the artistic orientation of events organised by the Bach Archive. The elections for the new leadership of the Bach Archive are set for October 2013.

As the managing director of the Bach Archive's now three-man Executive Board, Dr. Dettloff Schwerdtfeger will continue to assist the president and director in their work as their hierarchical equal. Following this expansion of the Executive Board, Schwerdtfeger will be taking up duties as the executive director of Bachfest Leipzig. The executive director chairs meetings of the Artistic Board which, as before, will be made up of the cantor of St. Thomas' Prof. Georg Christoph Biller, the Bach Archive's new director Dr. Peter Wollny and the executive director of Tonhalle Zürich Dr. Elmar Weingarten.

 

Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Southwark Cathedral

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 18, 2013):
See the message below.

From: Rose Harding
Sent: Tuesday, July 09, 2013 5:23 PM
Subject: Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Southwark Cathedral:

Dear Mr Oron

Are you able to place this on your Bach Cantatas blog and www?

With grateful thanks, Rose

30th September, 7.00 pm
Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, London SE1

Internationally renowned conductor, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, will be presenting an evening of music and readings from his new book, 'Music in the Castle of Heaven' which offers a unique insight into the life of JS Bach.

Gardiner who is recognised as the world's leading conductor of Bach's music will present this fascinating evening of how the composer's music worked, how his music is constructed, how it achieves its effects-and what it can tell us about Bach the man. This evening will appeal to all performers, listeners, and scholars.

Join Sir John Eliot as he discusses his new book (to be published by Allen Lane, early October) in the stunning surroundings of Southwark Cathedral for a night of great entertainment and music to discover Sir John Eliot's favourites from amongst the recordings of the Monteverdi Choir and Chorus.

For tickets and information see http://johneliotgardiner.eventbrite.co.uk

We hope you can make it!

The Very Revd Andrew Nunn,
Dean of Southwark

Rose Harding
Development Director
Southwark Cathedral
London Bridge
London SE1 9DA
020 7367 6704

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 18, 2013):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< 30th September, 7.00 pm
Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, London SE1
Internationally renowned conductor, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, will be presenting an evening of music and readings from his new book, 'Music in the Castle of Heaven' which offers a unique insight into the life of JS Bach. >
Almost worth flying to London to see it.

 

That's 56 audio CDs Gardiner Pilgrimage in a box

David Couch wrote (August 30, 2013):
Randy Lane wrote:
Found on Jpc.de this moring. JPC
Includes 4 CDs with Pilgrimage recordings made for DG.
A CD-rom with lyris.
Decent barg.
I keep wondering if there are videos. Could we maybe someday get this landmark tour on DVD? >
Thanks! Just to clarify for all.. when released in October, that will be a total of 56 CDs
It comprises the 28 pilgrimage volumes made for SDG (of which all but 4 were double CDs) plus 4 CDs made for DG
And the price is about $264 in current US$ on the Jpc.de site

from Gardiner's site: http://www.monteverdi.co.uk/shop/albums/cantatas/complete-set

BACH CANTATAS COMPLETE BOX SET
Release date: October 2013. Recorded live during the Bach Cantata
Pilgrimage. For the first time on one label the complete live
recordings from the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, in an elegant , limited edition box set.
Content
- 56 audio CDs
- 28 existing volumes from our Bach Cantatas series
- 4 additional CDs previously released by Deutsche Grammophon (see Gardiner's website for details of these 4)
- 1 data CD containing
Index of the cantatas by CD and by cantata number
Sung texts with English translations
Original sleeve notes in English and German (French notes available online)

 

John Eliot Gardiner: Short Biography | Monteverdi Choir | English Baroque Soloists
Recordings of Vocal Works:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Videos | Recordings of Instrumental Works
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Newsletters
Cantatas:
Cantatas BWV 106, 118b, 198 | Cantatas BWV 140, 147 | Cantatas BWV 11, 37, 43, 128 | Cantatas BWV 6, 66 | Cantatas BWV 72, 73, 111, 156 | Cantatas BWV 82, 83, 125, 200
Bach Cantata Pilgrimage:
BCP - Vols 1&8 | BCP - Vol. 6 | BCP - Vol. 9 | BCP - Vol. 13 | BCP - Vol. 14 | BCP - Vol. 15 | BCP - Vol. 21 | BCP - Vol. 22 | BCP - Vol. 23 | BCP - Vol. 24 | BCP - Vol. 26 | Bach Cantata Pilgrimage DVD | DVD John Eliot Gardiner in Rehearsal
Other Vocal Works:
BWV 232 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 244 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 245 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 248 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 1127 - J.E. Gardiner
Table of recordings by BWV Number

Conductors of Vocal Works: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Singers & Instrumentalists

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Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
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Last update: ýOctober 13, 2013 ý14:47:45