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John Eliot Gardiner & Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists
Bach Cantata Pilgrimage - Vol. 22

P-22

Bach Cantatas Vol. 22: Eisenach
For Easter Sunday / For Easter Monday
For Easter Monday / For Easter Tuesday

 
 

CD-1: Cantatas BWV 4 [21:45], BWV 31 [18:26], BWV 66 [28:04]
CD-2: Cantatas BWV 6 [19:17], BWV 134 [23:57], BWV 145 [8:58]

John Eliot Gardiner

Monteverdi Choir / English Baroque Soloists

Sopranos: Angharad Gruffydd Jones [CD-2], Gillian Keith [BWV 31]; Counter-tenor: Daniel Taylor; Tenor: James Gilchrist; Bass: Stephen Varcoe

Soli Deo Gloria 128

CD-1: Apr 23-24, 2000
CD-2: Apr 24-25, 2000

2-CD / TT: 120:39

Live recordings from the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage at Georgenkirche, Eisenach, Germany.
See: John Eliot Gardiner - Bach Cantata Pilgrimage - Vol. 22
Buy this album at:
2-CD: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de
Music Download: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | ClassicsOnline

Gardiner's Bach Cantata Pilgrimage - Vol. 22

Thomas Shepherd wrote (February 21, 2007):
It's Ash Wednesday today. One of the first temptations to face was whether to put on the CDs that arrived this morning. Vol 22 of Gardiner's Bach Cantata Pilgrimage is entirely of Easter music and recorded at one of the historic town churches of the Lutheran Reformation, Eisenach. Did I listen on this most penitential day of the church's year? - of course, but only superficially. BWV 31, for example will now have to await a resounding blast on the hi-fi on April 8th.

First impressions - another fantastic double set. There are some deep things going on in BWV 4 including slow tempi.

 

Introduction

John Pike wrote (February 25, 2007):
I have rejoined all 3 groups. For those of you who may have joined since I left last summer (due to being overwhelmed with other commitments), I am writing to introduce myself. I am a General Practitioner in Bristol, UK. I am also a keen amateur violinist, and have loved Bach's music since I was a small child. It is as important to me as the air I breathe.

However, for the past few months I have been playing a lot of Mozart (which I also love) at home and in chamber music groups. On CD, I have listened to music by mainly other composers. Last week, I received the latest volume (22) in John Eliot Gardiner's Bach cantata pilgrimage, SDG 128. Listening to it felt like a sort of home-coming after so many months away from the great master. It includes 6 cantatas for Easter, 2 each for Easter Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and very magnificent works they are too. I particularly love BWV 66 "Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen". The recordings of BWV 6 and BWV 66 are different from those recorded in 1999 for DG, and the soloists are different. The latest release was recorded at St George's church, Eisenach, the town of Bach's birth, of course, and the church in which he was baptised (the original font is still there). I think they are very fine recordings. I know that not everyone on this list appreciates Gardiner's approach, but I am sure we would all agree that the music itself is unspeakably sublime. Listening to it was one of the reasons which compelled me to rejoin these lists, which I have missed a lot.

Earlier this month, my wife gave birth to a stillborn baby, an ordeal very similar to ones which Bach himself had to face far too often, and it is Bach that I turn to for consolation at such times. Indeed, a list member very kindly sent me a Bach recording when he heard our news. Bach manages to convey something of the deepest emotions of the human spirit which words can never do.

It is very good indeed to be back.

 

Newest Issue of Gardiner's Bach Cantata (Pilgrimage) Series - Easter Cantatas

Drew wrote (March 28, 2007):
I've pasted in a very detailed and positive review of this issue, by John Quinn (from Music Web International). There are many magical moments in this set.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

The Bach Cantata Pilgrimage - Volume 22
Cantatas for Easter Sunday
Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4 [21:45]
Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret, BWV 31* [18:26]
Cantatas for Easter Monday
Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen, BWV 66 [28:04]
Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden, BWV 6 [19:17]
Cantatas for Easter Tuesday
Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiss, BWV 134 [23:57]
Ich lebe, mein Herze, zu deinem Ergötzen, BWV 145 [8:58]

*Gillian Keith, Angharad Gruffydd Jones (sopranos); Daniel Taylor (alto); James Gilchrist (tenor); Stephen Varcoe (bass) The Monteverdi Choir/English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
rec. Georgenkirche, Eisenach, 23-25 April 2000. DDD
SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG 128 [68:26 + 52:13]

In 2000 Easter Sunday fell on 23 April. Fittingly, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his Cantata Pilgrims spent the Easter weekend in Eisenach, Bach's birthplace, and gave concerts on three consecutive days at the church where he was baptised and where he was a boy chorister. This pair of CDs contains two cantatas for each of the three days of the Easter festival. Some collectors may already have the DG disc that was issued in 2000 and which contains two Easter cantatas, BWV 6 and BWV 66. It's worth confirming that these are different recordings: the DG performances were taped in the studio in April 1999 - in other words, in advance of the Pilgrimage - and
feature different soloists.

Given that Easter is the greatest feast in the Christian calendar it may seem surprising that Bach left so little Easter music. Besides the pieces included here there's only the so-called Easter Oratorio, BWV 249 and one other cantata, BWV 158. It may be, as Alfred Dürr and other scholars have suggested, that Bach poured most of his creative energy into the composition of his Passion settings, leaving him little time or energy to compose for Easter as well. In fact, some of the Easter music included here was recycled by Bach from earlier secular celebratory cantatas that he had written in Cöthen and, in his characteristically eloquent notes, Gardiner opines that this was highly appropriate. However, whether recycled or not, the feast of Easter inspired some pretty marvellous music from Bach.

BWV 4 is a very early work, probably dating from 1707. It's both a chorale cantata - setting Luther's famous hymn - and a choral cantata in that there are no soloists. It contains some splendid music and one fascinating aspect is the variety of ways in which Bach treats just one word, namely "Halleluja!" with which each of the seven verses concludes. Gardiner has recorded this work at least once before, a 1980 studio account for Erato. That's a pretty impressive achievement but I think this new version is finer. Comparing the two readings the first chorus is a bit lighter on its feet in 2000 and I wonder also if a slightly smaller choir was used? The same degree of fervour is apparent in both performances but in the more recent performance we hear even more bite in the singing. At the end of this chorus Gardiner adopts a fast speed for the "Halleluja!" which gives a pell-mell effect. I can imagine this might raise a few eyebrows amongst those used to Richter, for example, but I find it exhilarating and I'm afraid Richter sounds staid by comparison.

In the third verse of the hymn only the tenors are deployed by Bach and they, and the accompanying violins, are splendidly fiery in this latest performance. The fourth stanza follows without a pause, whereas there's a tiny break between the movements on the Erato CD, which is a pity. That fourth verse is graphically presented here and in the following stanza the basses are quite outstanding. Overall this is a gripping account of the cantata. In Gardiner's hands the music has a tremendous degree of drama, which won't surprise anyone who reads his stimulating note on the cantata. His 1980 version was very good but this new account eclipses it.

BWV 31 (1715) is very different from BWV 4. In the earlier cantata the dark side of death had been to the fore. By contrast, BWV 31 is a much more celebratory affair. The opening sinfonia is resplendently scored with the inclusion of a festive trumpet choir. In the chorus that follows the Monteverdi Choir sings with tremendous verve and a real sense of jubilation. Their passagework is superb and for all the world it sounds like angels laughing. In the stalwart bass aria, `Fürst des lebens, starker Streiter', I'm not convinced that Stephen Varcoe possesses quite the vocal weight that the music demands, though he sings stylishly. James Gilchrist, however, brings a splendid ringing tone and real presence to the recitativo that follows. In his aria, `Adam muss in uns verwesen' he's forthright and agile, as the music demands. The cantata also contains a lovely soprano aria, `Letzte Stunde, brich herein' and Gillian Keith gives a touching account of it, well partnered by a delicious oboe obbligato.

1724 was the first year that Bach was based in Leipzig for Easter and on Easter Monday he unveiled BWV 66, using material recycled from a 1718 secular cantata, BWV 66a. The new Easter piece opens with a truly splendid chorus, which had been the final movement of the secular work. Soloists also play a part here, singing short duets, and they carry most of the burden of the central section of the movement. Stephen Varcoe sounds to be better suited to the dancing aria that he's allotted in this work. Comparing this performance with the 1999 DG effort I marginally prefer Dietrich Henschel to Varcoe, finding the German singer to have a bit more character in his voice and stronger bottom notes. However, Gardiner and Varcoe impart more spring to the music in their reading of the aria so honours are about even between the two recordings. There follow two important movements, a dialogue recitativo and a duet aria, in which the alto and tenor soloists combine. The singing of Daniel Taylor and James Gilchrist is full of interest, although in the aria Taylor seems to be a bit too prominent at times. Again, comparing this aria with Gardiner's 1999 reading I felt that the earlier version has just a little less of a spring in its step and though the 1999 soloists - Michael Chance and Mark Padmore - sound more evenly matched I think that on balance Taylor and Gilchrist, with a touch more spontaneity, take the palm.

The inspiration for BWV 6 is the passage in St. Luke's Gospel that tells of the encounter between the risen Christ and some of his disciples on the road to Emmaus. In his note Gardiner speculates that in writing the opening chorus of BWV 6, with its tone of "tender pleadings", "you sense that Bach had the final chorus of his St. John Passion, if not on his writing desk then still ringing in his ears." I confess I'd never made this connection before but it seems so obvious now. This marvellous music is magnificently performed here. Daniel Taylor acquits himself very well in the fine aria, `Hochgelobter Gottessohn' and the player of the oboe da caccia obbligato also excels. Similarly to be admired is the player of the violoncello piccolo obbligato in the chorale movement that follows. The melody here falls to the sopranos of the Monteverdi Choir, who deliver it with chaste purity. The cantata also contains a plangent tenor aria, which is expressively sung by James Gilchrist.

BWV 134, which dates from 1724, may not be as well known as, say BWV 4 or BWV 6 but it's actually a superb piece. It contains music originally composed for a Cöthen cantata to celebrate New Year's Day 1719. The featured soloists are the alto and the tenor and they have rewarding parts to sing. There is, for example, a joyous tenor aria, `Auf! Glaübige, singet die lieblichen Lieder' of which James Gilchrist gives an exhilarating performance. The accompaniment features a pair of busy oboes and strings and the scoring imparts a real feeling of a bright spring morning. The duet recitativo is vividly delivered by the two soloists and then they combine in a super aria, `Wir danken und preisen dein brünstiges Lieben'. Taylor and Gilchrist sing this most delightfully; it's a winning performance. The closing movement unites soloists and chorus in the manner of the opening movement of BWV 66. This is a jubilant movement, which is done here with splendid assurance and real élan.

Finally, a brief cantata, BWV 145, which is thought to date from 1729. It's possible that Bach prefaced this cantata with an instrumental movement or a chorale. There are only two movements of significant dimensions. One is a duet between a tenor soloist, as Jesus, and a soprano (the soul). Gilchrist maintains his fine form while Angharad Gruffydd Jones displays a clear, sweet timbre that's most attractive. The piece also includes a sprightly bass aria, which is well taken by Stephen Varcoe.

There's some magnificent music here and, once again, the Pilgri' performances are first rate. James Gilchrist is the pick of the soloists, though all his colleagues also give a great deal of pleasure. The singing of the Monteverdi Choir is quite superb and the orchestral playing is no less fine. As ever John Eliot Gardiner proves to be an expert guide to the music, whether he's (figuratively) wielding his baton or his pen. The sound is excellent. Collectors of this wonderful series need not hesitate. The people of Eisenach were surely treated to a marvellous millenary celebration both of Easter and of their city's most illustrious son and we can now relive the occasion thanks to this splendid pair of CDs.

John Quinn

Bill Breakstone wrote (March 28, 2007):
[To Drew] Excellent review, with which I fully agree. Thanks for the post!

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 28, 2007):
Drew wrote:
>>I've pasted in a very detailed and positive review of this issue, by John Quinn (from Music Web International). There are many magical moments in this set.<<
Not intending to detract from the value of this series, I perceive that such "a very detailed and positive review" appears to be more in the nature of advertising copy than a serious review which seeks make some hard comparisons between these performances and others that have already been recorded. Criticizing Richter's 'slow' hallelujahs and extolling Gardiner's extremely rushed tempi is one indication of the lack of depth in this review. Until a side-by-side comparison with other good recordings of the same works is undertaken, this review remains, for me at least, simply advertisement, but not serious music criticism.

Stephen Benson wrote (March 28, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Criticizing Richter's 'slow' hallelujahs and extolling Gardiner's extremely rushed tempi is one indication of the lack of depth in this review. >
That's not a lack of depth; it's a difference of opinion.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 28, 2007):
Stephen Benson wrote:
< That's not a lack of depth; it's a difference of opinion. >
I was about to grope for some words of my own, when I saw this post, which covers my thoughts precisely and concisely.

Bill Breakstone wrote (March 28, 2007):
[To Thomas Braatz] I can not agree with Mr. Braatz's comments in the least. He obviously does not care for Gardiner's approach to this music. So why does he not offer us his review?

Aryeh Oron wrote (March 28, 2007):
I received my copy of Gardiner BCP Vol. 22 only two days ago. I have already listened to the 1st CD several times. I have been thinking about writing a personal review, when I saw that one was already sent to the BCML. I avoided reading it because I did not want to be biased. I need to listen to the 2nd CD and also to refresh my memory with some of the other recordings. I do not intend listening to some 25 recordings of Cantata BWV 4, but there are few which need closer investigation, including, for example, the previous Gardiner's recording. It means taking a short break from the solo keyboard discographies, but I have the feeling that this album deserves it.

And until then... enjoy,

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 28, 2007):
[To Thomas Braatz] On the other hand: "serious music criticism" and well-informed "side-by-side" comparisons *may* have been done -- and very well -- by MUSICIANS formulating their own expert opinions (both as practitioners and listeners). "Serious review" doesn't have to mean nit-picking about every little thing a non-musician personally wouldn't prefer, or might not understand. "Serious review" also doesn't have to mean that any alleged faults are enumerated at all: but only that an appreciative and responsibly understanding approach (a recognition of strengths -- "a very detailed and positive review") has been taken toward the material.

I met several well-informed professional musicians and professors, in California two weeks ago, who are subscribers to the Gardiner Pilgrimage series of CDs and very happy with it. They even brought out several volumes of it to show me, newer volumes which I hadn't seen/heard yet.

I also got to hear these same musicians give fine performances of several Buxtehude cantatas, along with other appropriate service music of the type that young Bach would have heard (and learned from) on his visit to Buxtehude.

 

Gardiner's New Recording (SDG 128) of "Christ lag in Todesbanden" (BWV 4)

Drew wrote (April 12, 2007):
I have listened to this remarkable new recording of BWV 4 every day since Easter Sunday, and find it to be an invigorating reading of one of Bach's earliest cantata masterpieces - a breath of fresh air.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood's comments (from Gramophone) are insightful:

"One can only guess what inspired an unusually visceral reading of Christ lag in Todesbanden (arguably Bach's first great creation), with a plethora of extremes from the Monteverdi Choir. One might quibble with moments where orchestral gestures are a little exaggerated but this is a performance where the sinuous lines and the momentum of liturgical ritual allow Luther's great hymn to take us tantalisingly to the brink of Christ's victory."

What are others' impressions of Gardiner's rather unconventional approach?

Drew wrote (April 12, 2007):
A follow up to this post . . .

Gardiner's commentary on the cantata (from the sleeve notes): http://www.monteverdiproductions.co.uk/recordings/new_releases.cfm

Bach's setting of Luther's hymn (BWV 4) is one of his earliest cantatas, composed for his probationary audition at Mühlhausen in 1707 and a bold, innovative piece of musical drama which sets all seven of Luther's verses, each beginning and ending in the same key of E minor. I suppose that having performed it more often than any other cantata I feel very much at home with it - and it never palls. But the feeling of Bach drawing on medieval musical roots (the hymn tune derives from the eleventh-century plainsong Victimae paschali laudes) and of his total identification with the spirit and letter of Luther's fiery, dramatic hymn was never so strong or so moving as here in our Eisenach performance.

First published in 1524, Luther's hymn brings the events of Christ's Passion and Resurrection vividly to life, depicting both the physical and the spiritual ordeals Christ needed to undergo in order to bring about man's release from the burden of sin. The narrative begins with a backward glance at Christ in the shackles of death, and ends with his jubilant victory and the feast of the Paschal Lamb, and the way Luther unfolds this gripping story has something of the folk or tribal saga about it, full of colour and incident. In this, his first-known attempt at painting narrative in music, Bach shows himself equal to the task of matching music to words, alert to every nuance, scriptural allusion, symbol and mood. Not content merely to mirror the text, one senses him striving to bring to it an extra dimension, following Luther's own ideal in which music brings the text to life, and in doing so, drawing on a whole reservoir of learning to date: music learnt by heart as a boy, the family's rich archive of in-house motets and Stücken, music put before him as a chorister in Lüneburg as well as works that he had studied or copied under the aegis of his various mentors, his elder brother Johann Christian, Böhm, Reincken and Buxtehude.

Bach begins by uprooting the very first two notes of the choraletune from their Dorian mode, sharpening the interval of a fourth and creating a falling half-step, a musical motif that readily expresses sorrow. This becomes the seminal melodinterval of his entire composition. It was a radical move - provocative even - for a young composer to make, daring to alter the melodic contours of this age-old tune, hallowed by Luther's famous treatment of it. Bach's strategy is to embed this chorale-tune deeply into the fabric of his composition, giving particular emphasis to its (altered) first two notes, the falling semitone which recurs hauntingly. Already in the third bar of the sombre opening Sinfonia he detaches these two notes - a wordless `Christ lag... Christ lag...' - and only at the third attempt do we recognise this as the first fullline of the hymn, giving weight to the retrospective re-enactment of Christ's death and entombment.

With the entry of the choir in verse one the hymn tune is chiselled out of the dense contrapuntal heartwood of this imposing chorale fantasia. The violins exchange the breathless type of figure known as suspiratio - sighs aptly interposed here to reflect Christ's suffering in the grip of death. Soon these give way to chains of dactyls and anapaests, generating an appropriate rhythmic vitality to convey how Christ's rising again has `brought us life'. The fantasia finally erupts into an alla breve conclusion, a fleet-footed canon based on the simplest of tunes: five descending notes, shaped as a syncopated riff, and one that, for Gillies Whittaker, `almost overwhelms the bounds of church decorum in its breathless, whirling excited exhilaration'.

That mood of unbridled joy is short-lived. Abruptly Luther reminds us of the time when death held humanity captive, a grim tableau every bit as graphic as those late medieval Dance of Death friezes painted on the church walls of many plague-visited German towns. It puts me in mind of the allegorical chess game in Ingmar Bergman's film The Seventh Seal. Twin time frames overlap here: pre-regenerate Man on one hand, contemporaneous Thuringians of both Luther's and Bach's day on the other, marked by their regular brushes with pestilential death. Bach uses his falling semitone in two-note fragments - segmented and desolate, exchanged between soprano and alto in a grief-laden, rocking motion, over the basso continuo (which plays the same two-note interval obsessively, but with octave jumps and in diminution). Bach finds spell-binding music to convey humanity helpless and paralysed as it awaits God's judgement against sin - what Luther called the `most serious and most horrible' penalty of death. Onto this bleak stage the skeletal personification of death now makes a stealthy approach, seizing mortals in his bony hands. Twice Bach freezes the frame, the music sticking first on the words `den Tod / der Tod', tossed back and forth four times, then again on the word `gefangen' (imprisoned), where soprano and alto are locked in a simultaneous E/F sharp dissonance. The surprising word `Halleluja' follows, as it does at the end of every stanza. But here its mood is unremittingly sad, apart from a brief flicker of promise near the end, before the music sinks back in resignation.

A stark contrast of mood, and verse 3 is launched by the violins pealing out an Italianate concerto-like variant of the chorale in unison. The tenors herald the coming of Christ: sin is overthrown and death's sting is plucked out. Bach uses the violins like a flail to depict the way Christ slashes at the enemy. The continuo line is dispatched, spinning down to a bottom E in an appropriate and `Miltonic thrusting below of the rebellious angel' (Whittaker again). Death's power is snapped in two. The music comes to a complete stop on `nichts': `naught remained...' - the tenors slowly resume - `but Death's mere form', now a pale shadow of itself. Here Bach has the violins etch the four-note outline of the cross with great deliberation, before continuing their concerto, now a festive display of prowess, a victory tattoo to which the tenors add their `Hallelujas' in a gleeful chortle.

The central stanza reenacts the crucial contest between life and death: `It was an awesome war when death and life struggled'. Bach seizes on the physicality of the contest: only the continuo provides instrumental support as groups of onlookers describe their reactions to the seminal bout which will determine their fate. Yet they know the outcome already - for it was `foretold by the scriptures... how one death gobbled up the other'. For this Bosch-like scene Bach sets three of his four voice parts in hot pursuit of one another, a fugal stretto with entries just a beat apart, while the fourth voice (altos) trumpets out the familiar melody in deliberate tones. One by one the voices peter out, devoured and silenced: death has been turned into a joke. Back comes the falling semitone, still the emblem of death, but spat out now with derision by the crowd. All four voices round off the scene with its Halleluja refrain, the basses descending through nearly two octaves before coming to a point of rest as the commentators file off stage. Now returning as High Priests in the ritual Easter Mass, the basses intone the fifth stanza over a descending chromatic bass line reminiscent of Purcell (`Dido's Lament') - for Bach in future a recurrent image of the Crucifixion. A mystical link has been established between the Paschal Lamb foretold by the prophets and Christ's sacrificial death. Emblems proliferate, principally that of the cross which Bach isolates and evokes by halting the harmonic movement for a single bar while each of its four points is inscribed, each instrumental voice symbolically pausing on a sharp (in German, `Kreuz'). To help us focus on the mysterious way `blood marks our door [to release]' he gives three attempted starts at that particular line (continuo, voice, violin), before the basses and then the violins seem to paint and re-paint the cross, the very symbol to which faith clings up to the point of death. At this moment of profound anguish Bach forces the basses to plunge downwards by a diminished twelfth to a low E sharp. Now comes an unprepared and totally unprecedented clarion call as they sound out a top D, holding it for nearly ten beats to represent `the strangler... who can no longer harm us'. It is magnificent, a gauntlet thrown down to the singers (yes, plural, for he never wrote like this for a solo voice) to sustain that D at full force until the air gradually drains from their lungs. Now the ritual unfolding of the chorale resumes serenely in the string choir. But, instead of following suit, the basses launch into a series of exultant `Hallelujas', culminating with a monster victory shout spanning two octaves.

That, to all intents and purposes, concludes the drama, though not the musical delights. For the penultimate verse, set as a duet for soprano and tenor with continuo, Bach gives us a tripping dance of unalloyed joy. The word `Wonne' or Joy is expressed in Purcellian roulades, the concluding `Hallelujas' exchanged in alternating triplets and duplets between the voices. His original four-part harmonisation for the final verse has not survived, but the one he substituted eighteen years later in Leipzig is rich compensation: superbly rousing and, aptly, his seventh illustration of how to sing `Halleluja' - each time with a subtly differentiated expressive twist.

Neil Halliday wrote (April 12, 2007):
Drew wrote:
< I have listened to this remarkable new recording of BWV 4 every day since Easter Sunday, and find it to be an invigorating reading of one of Bach's earliest cantata masterpieces - a breath of fresh air. >
I heard it on a BBC Internet stream last night and liked it a lot.

I see Attwood called this performance "visceral", ie, 'instinctive, earthy, non-intellectual'. Certainly it is anything but academically dry, and one distinctive feature is the use of the choir throughout - no soloists, reminding me of Werner's reading of this cantata. [About the only negative criticism I would make of either performance has to do with tempi; Werner is a bit slow in the first two movements (but OK in the `alla breve' section of the second movement), while Gardiner is a bit fast in this same `alla breve' section]. Otherwise, Gardiner's reading is, at various times, emotional, dramatic, and expressive.

The bass aria works very well with the choir basses, as both he and Werner have shown. In this form, adagio, the aria reveals a spaciousness which is quite appealing, much better than some of the brisk, lightweight, period versions of late, that have a bass soloist. {Still, Richter's splendid reading with DFD most likely remains the standard by which to judge this movement}.

Gardiner maintains the impact of the music right to the end, with the final chorale featuring a `broad' tempo, strong singing, and a glorious closing `Alleluia'.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 12, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Otherwise, Gardiner's reading is, at various times, emotional, dramatic, and expressive. >
There are so many fans of Gardiner on this list that I'm hesitant to say that I find Gardiner's performances of Baroque music frequently over-interpreted and romantic. I was listening to his recording of Handel's "Ode for St. Cecilia's Day" and he changes tempo in the openng chorus at least three times -- that's "interpretation" I'd expect from Klemperer.

Gardiner's has superb musicians at his disposal who could play and sing this music quite beautifully without all the eccentic tempos, exaggerated articulation and big, vibrato-laden choral singing. And why is a major recording using the choir in all the movements? That's something that I expect from amateur church choirs.

I have to admit it, but Rifkin's OVPP performance won me over. This cantata is a small-scale, solo set of partita variations not a monumental, visceral choral society event.

I should stop talking about Gardiner: I'm still angy at his Monteverdi Vespers!

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Romantic Bach [General Topics]

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (April 12, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] As we will perform BWV 4 on April 29th, I had borrowed a recording with BWV 4 and BWV 131 (which we performed last month), and it is precisely by Gardiner (Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists). It is strange because it sounds as described here (e.g. all vocal movements sung by the choir), but the CD has been recorded in 1980! La Media Thèque
At least this means that Gardiner remains consistent in his choices...

OT: Doug, do you know the Monteverdi Vespers by Rinaldo Alessandrini? Amazon.com
I could listen to that recording every day...

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 12, 2007):
Thérèse Hanquet" <therese.hanquet@skynet.be> wrote:
< OT: Doug, do you know the Monteverdi Vespers by Rinaldo Alessandrini? Amazon.com
I could listen to that recording every day... >
Sounds lovely. I notice that his group has also recorded a complete reconstruction of a Venetian Vespers from the music of Vivaldi. The Tallis Choir of Toronto is planning a reconstruction of a Christmas Vespers with the music of Handel and Vivaldi to mark the 250 anniversary of Handel's death. It's a lot of fun to do the historical research.

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (April 12, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] I received the album of the Vivaldi Vespers reconstruction last year and it is really beautiful. I am a big fan of Sara Mingardo (contralto) which takes part in many recordings with Alessandrini.
We are not completely OT here, as she has sung in some Bach cantatas with Gardiner... but not BWV 4.

Robin Kinross wrote (April 12, 2007):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< I had borrowed a recording with BWV 4 and BWV 131 (which we performed last month), and it is precisely by Gardiner (Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists). It is strange because it sounds as described here (e.g. all vocal movements sung by the choir), but the CD has been recorded in 1980! La Media Thèque
At least this means that Gardiner remains consistent in his choices... >
Yes, maybe this is the clue to Gardiner's performance in 2000 -- that he is still attached to the ideas behind the performance of 1980 (which I haven't heard). I'm a great admirer of the Monteverdi / English Baroque Soloists' recordings in 2000, but this 'Christ lag' is almost impossible for me to listen to -- so heavy, over-stressed and *masculine*. But then I've been listening often recently to OVPP recordings by:
* Parrott and the Taverners (1993): fine, very musical
* Hilliard Ensemble with Christoph Poppen & the Münchener Kammerorchester (2003)
* a private recording by the Bach Players in London (2004), with single strings and four good singers -- Gillian Keith, Hilary Summers, Charles Daniel, Peter Harvey

After these a biggish choir and orchestra seem far too much; not to mention the extraordinarily forced delivery of the Monteverdis in 2000.

 

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Last update: ýMay 23, 2010 ý23:57:13