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Ton Koopman & Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works
General Discussions - Part 5

Continue from Part 4

Ton Koopman at (or nearby) Carnegie Hall

Steve Schwartz wrote (September 27, 2005):
Last Monday, finding myself in New York, I picked through the New Yorker's "Goings On About the Town" section and found a listing for that evening of a Carnegie Hall concert by Dutch keyboardist and conductor Ton Koopman featuring three Bach cantatas. Since New York has so many classical-music mavens and I didn't want to be left out, I immediately phoned the box office and scored two tickets. Programs of Bach cantatas - let alone by first-rank performers - are rare in any case. I felt very lucky, especially since the tickets cost me only $20 apiece - a bargain on the scale of Manhattan prices.

As I went to the box office, I noticed a huge line of people waiting for cancellations. I had expected the concert to be well-attended but not sold out. The concert actually took place not in the main hall itself, but in the smaller, relatively new Zanker Hall - part of the Carnegie complex. Sources tell me it used to be a movie theater, but one sees no trace of that now. It's a beautifully furbished hall, with great sight lines and decent (though not blow-your-mind) acoustics, just the thing for chamber concerts.

The program consisted of the Cantatas BWV 6, BWV 147, and BWV 198 ("Trauer-Ode"). Some of you may know that Erato tapped Koopman to record all the Bach cantatas. Unfortunately, Time-Warner, the parent company, fileted its classical-music division, and the project dried up. Koopman went on to found his own label to complete the cycle. I don't know whether he has actually done so.

Generally, Koopman has done at least as well as Harnoncourt for Telefunken. Bach's music can take - and often demands - many different approaches. Indeed, the cantatas are so varied in expressive means and values that one doubts a single interpreter would do them all successfully. Koopman, like Harnoncourt, has his triumphs and failures. His advantages include rhythms that spring like young gazelles, preternaturally clear textures, and performers that play both "historically" and beautifully. On the other hand, he often failed to capture the drama and intensity of the more monumental cantatas, like No. 21, "Ich hatte viel Bekuemmernis," for example.

Koopman did not lead his usual ensemble of Amsterdam pros. The concert was part of a Carnegie Hall Foundation program that affords young performers from all over the world the chance to work with a great musician. The instrumental group, which included two small organs, lute, theorbo, traverse flutes, oboes, oboe di caccia, two gambas, as well as the usual strings, and a 22-voice choir were all in their twenties - conservatory seniors, MFAs, postgrads, and the like.

Consequently, I didn't expect what in fact I got: tremendous instrumental ensemble and tonal beauty. From the opening bars of the first cantata, it became clear immediately that these kids can play. Musical lines bounded and bounced. In Koopman's hands, with gestures that seemed to pluck the music from the air like a magician conjures cards, the cantata danced. Furthermore, I couldn't discern any difference between the kid choir at Zanker and Koopman's usual Amsterdam Baroque Choir. There was the same textural clarity, the same tonal and textural unanimity that made for exciting unisons, and diction so sharp that you really didn't need the texts the concert hall provided. Like the instrumentalists, the singers made beautiful phrases, connecting them into long arcs with only the slightest expressive gasps between cadences, and they shaded their lines by delicate yet proper word stress. However, the performance didn't have the perfect mechanics of a studio recording. Here and there, one met with rough spots, momentary cloudiness, an oboist fumbling through a quick melismatic passage. On the other hand, Koopman could make instantaneous and microscopic adjustments: a single cello suddenly intensified, the oboe di caccia gracefully retiring into the texture. His players always stayed with him.

On the other hand, Cantata BWV 147, somewhat of a "penitential cantata," seemed to baffle him. Not that anything was badly done, but the music didn't unfold in a convincing way. Sometimes, indeed, it didn't unfold at all - a kind of wad o' Bach. One missed the dramatic surges, the dynamic builds from low to high, and the "pointings" of musical and expressive meaning, although the performance contained a stunning duet between tenor and bass soloists. The two, avoiding identity of vocal color, nevertheless made an elegant rapprochement, the phrasing and melismas created as if by one mind, or like two different manuals on an organ. This was a highlight of an already fine concert.

By the Trauer-Ode BWV 198, things got back on track. Bach wrote the work on the death of some countess or other, and he exploits the duality found in other of his funeral cantatas: though we grieve for our loss of such a good soul, yet she is happy in heaven. The music makes a monument of sorrow, but it also rejoices in paradise. Koopman caught the tone of the work right away. Indeed, this cantata came off the best of the three. It had none of the occasional cloudinesses or dips of BWV 6, and Koopman sculpted a near-palpable musical shape. I became less aware of playing as such and (excepting a couple of movements) began to notice the work itself - not musicians, but Bach - an illusion that usually occurs only when the performance is unusually good. The thing starts with a sinfonia featuring a virtuoso organ part (perhaps Bach played it himself), performed with nervous verve by a young keyboardist named Avi Stein - yet another highlight of the concert. You will probaby hear of him in days to come.

The set of soloists varied in quality. Unfortunately, I lost my program and can't remember any names, although I wouldn't mention the names of students who didn't exceed expectations anyway. An alto had almost no lower register. A soprano stumbled over her runs. Almost every soprano had a thin, glassy top. Without exception, the men did better than the women, thoroughly professional at least. A record producer or concert promoter would do well to hire them right now. The standout of the set was the Trauer-Ode bass soloist. He struck me as very much in the mold of Koopman favorite Klaus Mertens, a favorite of mine as well. The voice lacks weight - he will probably never sing Boris - but he makes up for it in spades with breathtaking intonation and a complete mastery of text and phrase. He is already a wonderful baritone, and I hope great things for him.

The concert ended with enthusiastic applause, but I was one of the few to give a standing O. It was easily one of the best concerts I've ever heard, but, then again, I'm a rube. Ah, these jaded (and so lucky) New Yorkers!

 

More Koopman Cantata Volumes

Paul T. McCain wrote (October 19, 2005):
I just received the happy news from a distributor of the Challenge Classics reissue of Koopman's cantata series that Volume 13 is now available again, and news of more volumes soon to come. Here is the e-mail I received from them:

Hello Paul,
Volume 13 is available and has now been added to our website. It can be found at: http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Challenge%2BClassics/CC72213
Volumes 10 and 11 are due for release in November and volume 12 is due for release in early 2006.
Hope this helps.
Regards,

Ben.
Presto Classical
11 Park Street
Leamington Spa
Warwickshire
CV32 4QN
www.prestoclassical.co.uk
info@prestoclassical.co.uk

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 19, 2005):
[To Paul T. McCain] Vol. 13 was the 1st volume issued by Koopman's label Antoine Marchand April 2003, and AFAIK it has never been out of print.
Vols. 10 and 11, released originally by Erato, have already been re-released by Antoine Marchand and are available from various sources including Amazon and Antoine Marchand website. See the following pages of the BCW:
Vol. 1-12: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Koopman.htm
Vols. 13-19: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Koopman-Rec2.htm
Koopman Newsletters: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Koopman-News.htm
Only 3 volumes remained to complete this important Cantata series.

Paul T. McCain wrote (October 19, 2005):
[To Aryeh Oron] These volumes are the new releases in the Challenge Classics reprints. Volume 10 and 11 are not available from Amazon. If you have a link howing otherwise, please post it. I would appreciate that.

Umberto Quattrocci wrote (October 19, 2005):
vol 19 Koopman Cantata

Read this morning on Fnac.com

Jean-Sébastien Bach, Ton Koopman
Cantates
Intégrale, volume 19
intégrale (CD album)
Nombre de volumes : 3.
Nouveauté à paraître, indisponible à ce jour. Date de sortie : 28 octobre 2005.
Prix indicatif prévu : 53,90 ?

Riccardo Nughes wrote (October 20, 2005):
vol.20 Koopman Cantata

Vol.20 is coming out in November according to amazon.de -> Amazon.de

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 20, 2005):
[To Paul T. McCain] You can find them at the following stores:

Amazon.de:
Volume 10: Amazon.de
Volume 11: Amazon.de

JPC:
Volume 10: http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/hnum/2301596/
Volume 11: http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/hnum/8289296

Antoine Marchand: http://www.antoinemarchand.nl/eng/indexeng.htm

Paul T. McCain wrote (October 19, 2005):
Thanks

[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks Aryeh. I'll check them out. Perhaps the Bach Cantata we site can be updated to reflect where these can be purchased. I'm sure many would find that helpful.

 

Fait accompli - Koopman does it!!

Ehud Shiloni wrote (August 17, 2006):
Today, in my mailbox, volume 22 - the last and final one - of the now COMPLETE cantata recording cycle by Ton Koopman.

This promethean effort commenced back in 1993, went through a crue discontinuance by Erato, resurrected by the courage and financial commitment of Koopman himself starting his own Antoine Marchand label, and now brought to the finish line. Yes, a real, complete cantata recorded cycle!

I consider myself lucky to have been given the opportunity of following this series in parallel with my own long discovery process of Bach Cantatas. It gave me numerous listening hours of pure joy.

Sure, the purist will say, not each and every track ranks first among performances, but there is rarely a movement which scores less then "Very Good", at least in my book.

Thanks, maestro Koopman, and thanks to all the first class artists who participated in this amazing project.

Eric Bergerud wrote (August 18, 2006):
That's great news. I have seven volumes with an eight inbound. When it dawned on me a few months back that I, by and large, preferred mezzos to countertenors, I began listening to Koopman a lot more and Leusink less. (H&L is its own planet and I visit it almost daily.) I've really learned to appreciate the polish and wonderful playing Koopman gets from his ensemble. And you can't really knock the soloists either. The engineering isn't up to BIS standards but it's fine nevertheless. He reminds me more of Herreweghe than anyone else - without falsettos. That's not bad. Anyway, with new volumes going for $30 plus shipping on Amazon it's very tempting to complete the sacred cycle at least. (For reasons that I don't really understand, BWV 208 is on a different volume than the other secular cantatas. That's ok with me. Some of Bach's secular works are very nice indeed to my ear (I'm very fond of the "Wedding Cantata" and BWV 208 of course) but some seem to lack something: can't really put my finger on it.

Anyway, Koopman doesn't seem to get that much attention on the list and perhaps he deserves a little more as he plays lovely Bach.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 18, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< Anyway, Koopman doesn't seem to get that much attention on the list and perhaps he deserves a little more as he plays lovely Bach. >
Yep, I support this view. I have heard all the Koopman recordings and find them largely scholarly and consistent. I have a few quarrels with some of the soprano arias, but the high quality of the choral and instrumental ensembles make up for this. And what about Klaus Mertens, his bass soloist? I have yet to hear an aria of his that disappoints. Also his flute player is fantastic in several of the works coming up on list at this time--I particularly like his subtle and unotrusive, though very effective ornamentation.

I have a question someone may be able to answer. Koopman has produced 20 boxes of CDs and I have been told by various distributors that he has completed his recordings. However, he originally planned 66 CDs, of which only 61 have been released. More importantly, he hasn't recorded some of the later works, BWV 30, BWV 34, BWV 97 etc.

Neither my British or USA contacts can give me any info on this. So does anyone know if he has produced or is planning to record a 21st and 22nd volume? And if so where are they available?

Incidently I think I found an answer to the enigmatic last movement of 68--I'll try to remember to post it when it comes up next year. (Thanks to Thomas for some interesting info on both this and, latterly, the issue of male singers)

Lex Schelvis wrote (August 18, 2006):
< I have a question someone may be able to answer. Koopman has produced 20 boxes of CDs and I have been told by various distributors that he has completed his recordings. However, he originally planned 66 CDs, of which only 61 have been released. More importantly, he hasn't recorded soem of the later works, BWV 30, BWV 34, BWV 97 etc.
Neither my British or USA contacts can give me any info on this. So does anyone know if he has produced or is planning to record a 21st and 22nd volume? And if so where are they available? >
I just heard that volume 22 has been released, haven't seen it yet. So it is complete now. Information on: www.tonkoopman.nl
You can order there.

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 18, 2006):
Julian Mincham asked:
"I have a question someone may be able to answer. Koopman has produced 20 boxes of CDs and I have been told by various distributors that he has completed
his recordings. However, he originally planned 66 CDs, of which only 61 have been released. More importantly, he hasn't recorded some of the later works,
BWV 30, BWV 34, BWV 97 etc.
Neither my British or USA contacts can give me any info on this. So does anyone know if he has produced or is planning to record a 21st and 22nd volume?
And if so where are they available?"
The complete Cantata series conducted by Koopman has 22 Vols. - 67 CD's.
Vol. 22 includes also the 4 Lutheran Masses BWV 233-236, which were recorded after he had finisrecording all the cantatas in October 2003.

The content of each volume in Koopman series is presented at:
Vols. 1-12: Antoine Marchand (Previously Erato):
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Koopman.htm
Vol. 13-22: Antoine Marchand :
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Koopman-Rec2.htm

If you want to find out in which Vol. a certain cantata is located please take a look at:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Recordings-Table.htm
You can see that Cantata BWV 30 is on Vol. 22, BWV 34 on Vol. 21, BWV 97 on Vol. 21, etc.
This info can also be found at the relevant cantata pages (now updated).

Vols. 21 & 22 should be available next month from the usual internet stores.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Rec/Rec-2006-09.htm

Julian Mincham wrote (August 18, 2006):
Fait accompli - Koopman info


Many thanks to Lex and Aryeh for the infor mation on the Koopman last sets.

(Distribution problems meant that ealier in this year vols 19 and 20 were very difficult to get in the UK--I eventually got then from the USA.)

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 18, 2006):
Ehud Shiloni wrote:
< Today, in my mailbox, volume 22 - the last and final one - of the now COMPLETE cantata recording cycle by Ton Koopman. >
In response to Julian: 3 CDs by 22 is 66, exactly what you were expecting?

It seems that the people who have the Koopman CDs are the one's complaining about no commentary on-list. Need I say more?

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 18, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
"In response to Julian: 3 CDs by 22 is 66, exactly what you were expecting?"
(21 X 3) + (1 X 4) = 67.
Vol. 5 includes 4 CD's.

Harry W. Crosby wrote (August 19, 2006):
Several of you have written in to congratulate Ton Koopman and his people on their accomplishment of another complete set of Bach cantata recordings, indeed a rare and noteworthy feat. The writers usually also expressed their pleasure and satisfaction with the artistic results thus available.

I would like to bring in a minority report from one who usually does not prefer Koopman's results to those of selected others. And who, despite that position, is also very grateful to this conductor.

Why then, if he is not as a rule a favorite of mine?

Because I have found it a very important part of my education to be able to make comparisons. During my first thirty or more years of devotion to this composer and to this form such comparisons were possible with only limited numbers of cantatas. I was unable to find recordings of over one hundred, so more than half the total were completely unknown to me. And even when the (modest) Bach vogue set in, for me in the late '60s, I was lucky to find one performance of those newly available to add to my collection and my consciousness.

What these complete, or to-be-complete series have brought into my life has been the opportunity to hear different interpretations of many, many more of these works. And here I will admit that I have somewhat limited myself by being prejudiced in favor of the more modern recordings, period instruments, and smaller ensembles. As a result, I have been most affected by the work of Herreweghe (never to be complete, I know, but always a contender with whatever he does), Gardiner, Koopman, and Suzuki.

In this company, Koopman is my least favorite, overall, but he has provided, and still does, my only recording of six cantatas, and in the cases of four others he is my first choice over at least one other contender in paired comparisons. So, I will never regret investing in the Koopman series, even if most of those disks now reside in a nearby music library for the pleasure of others. Through them, I enriched my collection two ways, and probably the more important was the opportunity to understand better what it is that I prefer, something I at least learn far better and more easily from direct comparisons.

Thank you, Ton Koopman, and I continue to particularly enjoy your renditions of BWV 117, BWV 145, BWV 151, and BWV 159.

 

Review: Koopman volume 22

Peter Bright wrote (November 6, 2006):
If anyone is interested (or even if they are not!), my review of Koopman's 22nd (and final) volume of Bach cantatas has been added to the Bach Cantatas site. Many thanks to Aryeh for doing this. You can find it at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Koopman-Vol22.htm

Eric Bergerud wrote (November 6, 2006):
[To Peter Bright] I'm interested and thankee. Of course I'm collecting Koopman now: I think I have eleven volumes. (I also bought the Teldec volume covering secular cantatas: Harnoncourt did BWV 208; Koopman did the remainder. Very nice indeed.) I still can't make my ears believe that Bach's real forces had anything like the extraordinary polish Koopman's produce, but it's certainly lovely music. And I can't say that I miss the falsetto.

It sure doesn't look as though buying cantatas is such a bad investment. Some of Koopman's early volumes are out of print and not easy to find. They are going for considerably more than list price on Amazon. Who knows, we may make our heirs unexpectedly happy some day when they get the assessments on whopper collections of good Bach. Trouble is, we can't cash in without losing the Bach. Life isn't fair.

 

OT: Regarding Koopman

Jean Laaninen wrote (November 1, 2007):
This morning I had the nice surprise upon visiting a library that I go to only occasionally, and discovered that they have some of the Koopman cantata recordings. So I brought one of them home, and I will listen to it on Friday most likely as I will have a clear space then in which I can concentrate on the more detailed aspects of the performance. Since I only have some Rilling and some American Bach Soloists, and have listened to Leusink on the web, I am writing to ask for comments about Koopman's general style, and maybe some comments on his ensemble. I know there are some long-time listeners on the list who can give a good introduction.

Thanks in advance.

 

Koopman’s Kaffee Kantate (Short Reviews of 3 Challenge Classics Singel Discs)

Jens F. Laurson wrote (August 28, 2008):
Recent dabbling in and with Bach Recordings.

from: http://weta.org/fm/blog/?p=377

Imbuing the text of Bach's secular cantatas with character can create many a delight that further distinguishes them from the sacred cantatas' more somber tone. The disadvantage of successfully groaning lines like ".er brummt ja wie ein Zeidelbär" (".he groans like a honey bear") with a genuinely ugly tone is that they sound, well. ugly. Paul Agnew, in the opening recitative of the famous "Coffee Cantata" (Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht" BWV 211) goes for some sort of expressive realism and comes up with authentic unpleasantness. A very limited success, indeed - but fortunately passed by quickly enough to ignore.

Klaus Mertens and Anne Grimm meanwhile act the rest of this domestic `coffee vs. future husband' drama out very nicely - and they remind me why I so loved this recording when first came out in the mid-90s as part of Ton Koopman's complete Cantata series. Now re-issued at high mid-price, several famous couplings are available on single discs - including the Coffee- and Peasant Cantatas, the Marian Feast Cantatas , and four out of five Wedding Cantatas.

BWV 211, charming though it is and despite my early listener's allegiance to it, cannot compete with Helmut Rilling's version for the singing alone. Christine Schäfer and Thomas Quasthoff are simply easier on the ears. And if it need be an original instrument r, Masaaki Suzuki has equally fast tempos to offer and, though Mertens is preferable to Stephan Schreckenberger, an impeccably delightful soprano in the stupendous Carolyn Sampson.

BWV 212 - "Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet" - with Els Bongers and Mertens does not call better versions to mind: Mme. Bongers' soprano is stylish and the playing fleet. Fleeter, indeed, than one might expect from a Peasant Cantata. Koopman's harpsichord and Jaap ter Linden's cello provide the expert support for Mertens in the short, three-movement "Amore traditore" BWV 203 that fills this disc out to a reasonably generous 65 minutes. Less generous - especially at that price - is the absence of a libretto, the on-line availability of which not being an adequate substitute.

A much better example of the great virtues of the Koopman Cantata Cycle (formerly Erato, now Challenge Classics) is the disc with the Wedding Cantatas. The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Chorus get to shine and Johannette Zomer, Sandrine Piau, Annette Markert, James Gilchrist and, again, Mertens are a line-up that leaves nothing to desire in "Dem Gerechten muss das Licht" BWV 195. Like "Gott ist unsre Zuversicht" BWV 197, this cantata is split in Pre- and Post-Copulationem. Since the liner notes are trimmed versions from Koopman's and Christoph Wolff's originals and don't bother to explain, this might give rise to humorous confusion: a Bach chorale, instead of a cigarette? Alas, "pre-" and "post-copulationem" is merely indicative of which part is sung before and after the actual marriage pronunciation (and that kiss I imagine having been no less part of tradition then, than it is now).

Barbara Schlick and Guy de Mey ("Der Herr denket an uns" BWV 196 - its chorus appropriately one-voice-per-part), Bogna Bartosz (BWV 197) and Lisa Larsson (in the solo cantata "Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten" BWV 202) continue along the same high level with performances that only make me think of Bach, not alternative recordings. There is plenty heft and oomph in the choruses while all the drive expected from HIP recordings retained. Or try listen to Marcel Ponseele's oboe part in BWV 202 without closing your eyes enraptured. For a disc of Wedding Canatas (only BWV 210 is not included among the complete extant Wedding Canatas), this makes a very fine choice. As an introduction to Koopman's Bach it would be even more recommendable with more generous liner notes or at a lower price.

The disc with Canatas for Marian Feasts contains "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" BWV 1, "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin" BWV 125, and "Komm, du süße Todesstunde" BWV 161. Soprano Deborah York (BWV 1), altos Bogna Bartosz (BWV 125) and Elisabeth von Magnus (BWV 161), tenors Jörg Dürmüller (BWV 125) and Paul Agnew (BWV 1, BWV 161), and of course Klaus Mertens (BWV 1, BWV 125) offer singing at a high, if not exalted, level throughout. In BWV 1 Masaaki Suzuki (volume 34 of the Canata Cycle on BIS) brings a greater sense of crispness and bloom and cleaner horns to the grand opening than does Koopman. I love Carolyn Sampson's aria for Suzuki, but Mme. York's voice, a more pointed instrument, has a very nice ring to it, too.

The tempos of both conductors are more or less similar, but wherever Suzuki takes a few seconds longer, I find his choice more convincing and Koopman ever so slightly rushed. Only notable in direct comparison, but notable all the same - not the least in the concluding chorale "Wie bin ich doch so herzlich froh", where the orchestra and continuo harpsichord is weighed equally on the BIS recording but recessed and dominated by the Amsterdam Baroque Choir in Challenge Classics recording.

Suzuki's volume 32 allows for comparison between his and Koopman's BWV 125. The biggest difference here is the alto aria "Ich will auch mit gebroch'nen Augen" in which Koopman leaves mezzo/alto Bogna Bartosz much more time than the quicker Suzuki allows his counter-tenor Robin Blaze. Even if I liked Blaze's voice more than I do, my choice would still be Bartosz here, just as I prefer the more nimble tenor-bass duet "Ein unbegreiflich Licht erfüllt" under Koopman.

Similar reasons might make Elisabeth von Magnus' opening aria "Komm, süße Todesstunde" in BWV 161 more attractive than Michael Chance's with the otherwise splendid Purcell Quartet recording (Chandos), while the large tenor aria ("Mein Verlangen is den Heilan zu umfangen") is in good hands with either Michael Chance (Purcell) or Agnew (Koopman). Because this cantata is sparsely orchestrated, there is much less difference between the two contrasting HIP styles of the radical one-voice-per-part ("OVPP") Purcell Quartet (with minimal orchestral forces; four strings, two recorders and obbligato organ here) and Koopman's, who is among the least dogmatic original instrument Bach conductors.

The difference is obvious again with the chorus and concluding chorale. Four voices for a chorus are not much to begin with - but for a chorale they are downright skimpy. As well as the voices of the singers on the Chandos recording blend, at least the chorale could have used a bit more heft. Koopman uses his small choir, seemingly unchanged, for both chorus and chorale and takes them at a much quicker clip. A satisfying disc for anyone who hasn't yet added these cantatas to their collection.

 

Ton Koopman's Cantata's cycle...

Meidad Zaharia wrote (February 7, 2009):
I wanted to ask about your opinion of this set...
Is it worth it's high price?
How would you rate it comparing to Gardiner/Leonhardt & Harnoncourt/Rilling?

Thanks,

Ed Jeter wrote (February 7, 2009):
[To Meidad Zaharia] I am new to this circle, but nothing came through on your e-mail that gave the name of the set

you are comparing to Gardiner/Leonhardt & Harnoncourt/Rilling.

Meidad Zaharia wrote (February 7, 2009):
[To Ed Jeter] Sorry!

I was talking about this: http://www.antoinemarchand.nl/tabelcanteng.htm

Thanks,

Gerd Wund wrote (February 7, 2009):
[To Meidad Zaharia] I own all 22 sets.
From singers, chorus and orchestra in every point of view, it is a wonderful recording of all cantatas.
From start to end on highest levels.
Only comparable to the (in my opinion best) recordings from herreweghe with the collegium vocle gent.
Highly recommended!!!

Ed Jeter wrote (February 7, 2009):
[To Meidad Zaharia] Thank you Meidad!

Meidad Zaharia wrote (February 7, 2009):
[To Gerd Wund] WOW, with such a recommendation i need to make some cache ready ;-)

Thanks,

M3M3Son wrote (February 7, 2009):
[To Meidad Zaharia] Somewhere along the line I became a "Bach cantata junkie" and acquired the Koopman, Rilling, and Harnoncourt/Leonhardt complete (more or less) sets, as well as all of the Gardiners and Suzukis as they come out, in addition to all the Herreweghes, Richters, Werners, and a whole bunch of other smaller issues. I wouldn't want to be without any of them, except maybe the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt (and only if I had to sell some to buy food) because of the use of boys (grating and strident, but better than in most recordings) and the Kuijken (just can't warm up to OVPP). Koopman, Rilling and (eventually) Suzuki contain the wonderful secular cantatas (which for the last year or so have occupied more of my time than all of the sacred cantatas combined). Gardiner's execution is spectacularly, dazzlingly flawless but sometimes so fast that you "miss the inner music forthe notes." Richter is stunning in the big, famous choral works "particularly things like 80, where he uses the trendily-disdained but enormously effective WFB additions of tympani and trumpets), and 147. Koopman may be (not sure) the only one that includes variants, e.g. both the JSB and WFB final section to #80. It would be pointless to say that any one complete cycle is better than another because so much is a matter of personal taste. All are of exceptional quality. If you can get the Koopmans at a good price (complete box went on ebay a few months ago for only $270) grab it. And then supplement it with all of the Rilling secular cantatas, the later Herreweghes (much more vital for some reason than the earlier recordings) and the Richter and Gardiner recordings of your favorites. I don't mention Suzuki much, but that's not because his recordings aren't really good; they are, but in a different kind of way--beautifully played and sung, but a shade toward the lyrical side where Koopman, Rilling, Gardiner, Herreweghe, and Richter are more appropriately (and satisfyingly) forceful and exuberant.

Jens F. Laurson wrote (February 7, 2009):
[To Meidad Zaharia] I have most (18), but not all of the Koopman sets.

I was initially enthused... but then I was taken in by the generally welcoming, but never enthusiastic reviews. Raves were--seemingly--always reserved for Suzuki and then Gardiner. That dimmed my view of the Koopman a bit... who doesn't, admittedly, always have star singers.

But when I come back to Koopman, I am consistently surprised just how good and how...,well... consistent these recordings are. Why he may not have the highlights that other conductors have come up with, I find my reaction to it much more positive than my reaction is to most of Suzuki [which I often find surprisingly boring] and (dare I say it, in this forum) Gardiner [who, despite admitted excellence, is ludicrously overrated and hyped. Apparently we even need "Gardiner Alerts" in this forum!].

Koopman's cycle is (much) better played than the "Das Alte Werk" cycle--and if Historically Informed Performance practice is of interest to you (if you as much as consider Harnoncourt or Gardiner, it must be), it's an obvious choice over Rilling.

I never think of Koopman as "the best" in Bach, but truth be told: the only other conductors I so appreciate in the cantatas (on a regular basis) are Herreweghe (Harmonia Mundi) and the Kuijken-1-year-cycle in progress (Accent). Neither have, nor will likely have, complete Cantata cycles.

Is it "worth" the price? Impossible question. Worth in-and-of-itself? Worth the premium over Leusink/Brilliant? Give us something to work with. Obviously it's not a budget cycle... but it's very likely the finest of the extant ones [Harn./Rill./Leusink] and unless your tastes go very specifically to Suzuki's style, it won't be bested by that one, either.

Can you afford it and will you love it are the poignant ones. On the latter I think it's safe to presume "Yes".

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 7, 2009):
m3m3rson wrote:
>I wouldn't want to be without any of them, except maybe the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt ... and the Kuijken (just can't warm up to OVPP).<
IMO, everyone on this list owes themself the luxury of listening at some length to examples of the Kuijken set, especially since they appear likely to become scarce. Make up your own mind, after letting your ears adjust to the texture, without dismissing (or accepting) them out of hand based on some elses opinion.

Despite the listening shortcomings of H & L, it remains of great historic importance, and at BRO price, the most economical complete set as well (excluding Leusink, with the Bach edition on Briliant Classics, which it is to be assumed everyone has access to). If not, that is the place to spend the first US$100 or so you have available for CD purchases.

John Pike wrote (February 7, 2009):
Herreweghe has said publically that he has no intention of completing a cycle. It is not in his philosophy to complete something just for the sake of completeness; rather, he has tried to record the best of them.

"..the only other conductors I so appreciate in the cantatas (on a regular basis) are Herreweghe (Harmonia Mundi) and ...........Neither have, nor will likely have, complete Cantata cycles."

John Pike wrote (February 7, 2009):
At present it seems to me that, to acquire the complete Koopman set you have to buy 22 separate volumes. Is that so? If so, does anyone know if he plans to release them all as one big box set?

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 7, 2009):
Jens F. Laurson wrote:
>(dare I say it, in this forum) Gardiner [who, despite admitted excellence, is ludicrously overrated and hyped. Apparently we even need "Gardiner Alerts" in this forum!].<
I would emphasize the admitted excellence. As to the excessive hype, it is mostly from Brits, no? I attribute that to island mentality.

There, that should provide something to bitch about for a day or two.

Uri Golomb wrote (February 7, 2009):
[To Meidad Zaharia] The only cycle I've heard in its entirety, of the ones mentioned above, is Harnoncourt/Leonhardt. I am, however, familiar with many volumes of all the others - enough, I think, to make a comparison (Gardiner's has not been completely released yet, and I have not yet heard all the volumes that were released -- but I own, and have heard, most of them). The short answer is that Koopman is as good as any cycle, if you want it all with one conductor - technically superior, in many cases, to Harnoncourt/Leonhardt (certainly in their earlier volumes), and livelier than Rilling. He is usually at his best in bright, festive and dance-like movements - but I sometimes find him too genteel and reticent in the more elegiac, tragic or dramatic works, tending to skim the surface. There are, however, many notable exceptions. The technical level of playing and singing is always satisfying, and even the "worst" performances are, at the very least, pleasantly appealing and sensitively musical.

One of the earlier respondents claimed that Gardiner is sometimes too fast. I find this true of Gardiner's earlier recordings - but less true of his Pilgrimage. His tendencies towards extremely fast, clipped interpretations still surfaces during the Pilgrimage; but on the whole, he seems to have deepened and mellowed. His renditions of dramatic works are, I feel, often incomparable. He tends to go for detailed interpretations, filled with subtle nuances and bold contrasts alike - which some listeners find romanticized, exaggerated and over-the-top.

As for Rilling: I'm not a great fan of his sacred cantatas, though there are many performances there that I do enjoy. In recent years, Rilling's performances have become more lively, articulate and incisive - but this largely happened after 1985, when he completed his sacred cantatas (his secular cantatas, recorded in the 1990s, are therefore superior, in my view).

But tastes always differ substantially. I would rate, overall, Gardiner above Koopman (though not without exceptions), and Koopman above Rilling (again, not without exceptions); but none of these judgements will be shared by all. Ultimately, you'd want to choose the cycle that appeals most to you; and for that, I'm afraid, there is little substitute to listening to samples (if you already have "favourite" works, that would help in choosing what to try out) and seeing how you respond to them.

Randy Lane wrote (February 7, 2009):
[To John Pike] JPC still has the complete set in their catalog as a single item:
http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/hnum/8485456?rk=classic&rsk=hitlist

But I believe that is just the original 22 chubby jewel boxes crammed into a package or wrapped in shrink wrap. If you're looking for something to consume less space, I don't think you'll find it for the Koopman set. But the above does amount to a substantial cost savings over the individual volumes (provided it is actually still available, which may not be the case even though it is in the JPC catalog).

Harry W. Crosby wrote (F7, 2009):
[To Meidad Zaharia] The truth is that one of the virtues and attractions of B-C.com (and very much in response to the genius and dedication of its inventor, mentor, and manager, Aryeh Oron), is the diversity represented in those who "live here," posting questions, answers, opinions --- and, yes, challenging the opinions of others.

So, I suggest to you that you take these opinions into consideration, but also use them, not as authority in matters of taste, but as indicators and signposts leading to the available recordings of Bach.

I, for example, would not suggest to you buying the whole series of Koopman cantata recordings. I believe that you would be well served by getting one boxed set -- it is three disks and some 9 cantatas, after all -- and do the same with Suzuki, and perhaps try a set out of the Kuijken series, certainly consider the near-complete Leusink series on Brilliant Classics (which includes a major part of all Bach's works) at the price of about three of the Koopman volumes. I have very much enjoyed many of Leusink & Co.'s cantata performances and rate them ahead of those done by the aforementioned others.

In short, such a series of trials will lead you to know better who you are as a listener, what it is that most appeals to you. By direct posting to you, I will send a list of my first choices, not to sway your opinions-to-be, but to indicate the catholicity that one individual may develop as he/she listens!

And welcome to this wonderful website as window on and doorway into musical enchantment at its (I believe) most profound.

Terejia wrote (February 8, 2009):
Harry W. Crosby wrote: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/18556
< The truth is that one of the virtues and attractions of B-C.com (and > very much in response to the genius and dedication of its inventor, > mentor, and manager, Aryeh Oron), is the diversity represented in those who "live here," posting questions, answers, opinions --- and, yes, challenging the opinions of others. >
(..)
As for myself, my taste varies and changes on day to day basis. I often find Koopman to be jazzy and modern despite the fact it is HIP.

By the way personally I find fun in imagining :

How recording reviews would be in the year, for example say, 2039?

I do not have such a keen musical sense as to distinguish which has universal aethetic value and which is merely in accordance with contemporary concept of beauty.

Stephen Benson wrote (February 8, 2009):
Randy Lane wrote:
< JPC still has the complete set in their catalog as a single item...But the above does amount to a substantial cost savings over the individual volumes >
But, of course, this also highlights one of the marketing problems with respect to complete sets of the cantatas. For anyone who has accumulated ANY number of the individual releases, cost effectiveness becomes a major issue.

Stephen Benson wrote (February 8, 2009):
Terejia wrote:
< As for myself, my taste varies and changes on day to day basis. I often find Koopman to be jazzy and modern despite the fact it is HIP. >
This comment sent me running to Koopman's recording of BWV 26. His performance of the bass aria (#4) has an attractive bumptious quality that puts me in mind of a New Orleans street band.

Ed Jeter wrote (February 8, 2009):
[To Stephen Benson] Steve, Oh, It is Kid Koopman is it?

Meidad Zaharia wrote (February 8, 2009):
[To m3m3rson] Thanks for your email.
I must say that when I saw you write: because of the use of boys about Harnoncourt/ Leonhardt i was stunned!
For me this is the best ever cantatas cycle. That's my opinion at least.

Thanks for your opinion...

Meidad Zaharia wrote (February 8, 2009):
[To Harry W. Crosby] Thanks Harry,

I have quite few CD's of the cantatas and to be honest the one that I love the most is the Harnoncourt/ Leonhardt set. I love the boys choir.

Terejia wrote (February 10, 2009):
Meidad Zaharia wrote: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/18561
< I have quite few CD's of the cantatas and to be honest the one that i love the most is the Harnoncourt/ Leonhardt set. I love the boys choir. >
I am glad I was not alone in appreciation of boys' choir! As for me, I don't own complete Harnoncourt/Leonhardt series either, but I have some of them. Boys' choir has special indescribably appeal and inspiration for me, although I have to admit that boys' choir is second to highly trained vibrato-less female adult choir, especially when it comes to technical aspect.

This list and the sister list BCML has many knowledgeable and experienced subscribers, whose comments on recordings are invaluable resource.

However, on the other hand, we have to bear in mind that music specialists and non-professionals are different in position, which of course would make difference how we approach to music. Music professionals listen to music not only for fun but for their professional works, for their improvement in skills, for their study, etc ; non-professionals listen to music for inspiration, for comfort, etc. Music professionals are those who decided to dedicate their entire life to music so the dedication are by no means the same as non professionals.

Different purposes would account for different preference. If your purpose is for hiking nearby mountains just for your joy, you wouldn't be equipped as if you were climbing Mt. Everest.

I am in an opinion that overall "upward vector" in one's mental attitude is necessary even for non-professionals, however. During my internship, I remember my boss loved listening to Brahms and Mozart - also Bach as BGM in his office during work. If he listens to Bach as BGM and get inspiration to do even better legal job, it would also be a manifested upward vector inspired by Bach, the same admiration toward the great composer as by those performing professional music but only manifested in different field of works IMHO. (By the way, my boss listens to classic music with scores in his hands, when he is off-duty. )

Good luck on your pursuit of Bach's masterpieces.

Terejia wrote (February 10, 2009):
I forgot to mention to the title topic in my previous post : Ton Koopman's Cantata Cycle.

If one's bussiness is performing music, then, Ton Koopman would be among the best choice -probably next to absolute must?

For a non-professional in music who wishes to listen to music for the sake of inspiration, comfort, etc. then, I am not sure if Ton Koopman would do or not. At least not for every non-professional listeners,IMHO.

I do not have many Ton Koopman. However, I have access to many Ton Koopman CDs (also many Suzuki, Rilling series)in Naxos Music Library.Since I am working with computer, I am listening to Naxos Music Library while working.

John Pike wrote (February 10, 2009):
[To Randy Lane] Many thanks for this, Randy, but at Euro 700 this is still far too expensive for most people. I may collect them individually when Gardiner and Suzuki have finished, since I am collecting those two cycles.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 11, 2009):
An important detail which has not been mentioned on the current thread:

One of the outstanding features of the Koopman set is the use of female alto Bogna Bartosz on most opportunities in the later volumes (about two-thirds, I believe, from memory) of the set. Not in the least authentic, of course, but also not to be missed, IMO. This was originally suggested by Eric Bergerud a couple years ago. I planned to try one or two volumes (limited by relatively high cost). I now have fourteen, the cost per CD is not unreasonable, especially for astute shoppers.

Randy Lane wrote (February 12, 2009):
[To John Pike] That's been my strategy too.

I have 13 of the 22 so far. Bought most of them with 40% off coupons from Borders last year.

 

The complete Koopman Cantatas

Meidad Zaharia wrote (February 1, 2010):
I just got an email from Amazon about the upcoming set of the complete Koopman cantatas (67 cd's) for a nprice of $400 instead of $1000 approx.

My question is: What's the added value of this set? I got the classic sets of Harnoncourt & Leonhardt + Suzuki + Helmuth Rilling. And none complete cycles such as Gardiner or Herreweghe for example.

So is there a good reason why to buy the koopman set?

Another point is that I don't like none jewel cases or in this case paper sleeves releases so i really prefer the old set but it's too expensive. Having said that I wish the Harnoncourt & Leonhardt or Suzuki i got were also in jewel cases. Although they catch a lot of space i prefer them that way so if you got the "old" releases and want to save space contact me also for the koopman.

Thanks for your opinion...

Julian Mincham wrote (February 1, 2010):
[To Meidad Zaharia] That seems to me a very good buy--especially as I paid full price for the set getting each album as it came out!

Koopman's recordings have not always been well received by members on this list. Some have criticised his approach to the recits and use of small 'portative' organ sounds for some of the continuos. That's a matter of taste I guess, you either like it or you don;t.

I think there are three big pluses with the series: one is the bass Klaus Mertens whom Koopman uses throughout. He is excellent and the set is worth having for his magnificent renderings of the bass arias alone.The other reasons are the consistently high standards of the choir and orchestra; the oboe and flute playing for example is often most thrilling. The booklets are reasonably informative with notes by C Wolff but there is nothing there that you would not find in Dürr. I find the translations a bit flowery and enigmatic at times and prefer to use those by Richard Stokes (his book of the complete translations is available from Amazon).

Koopman doesn't always hit the heights of adrenalin that one sometimes gets from JEG and Suzuki but the performances are consistent and many of them very satisfying. There are few real disapointments in the series. I tend to come back to a number of his versions after listening to others in between.

John Pike wrote (February 1, 2010):
[To Meidad Zaharia] I don't have the Koopman set, much as I would like it and some of them have been very highly reviewed as "top recording" in BBC music magazine. Another of the benefits of this set is its comprehensiveness. At 67 CDs, it is 7 CDs longer than most "complete sets" and I understand that Koopman recorded all the different versions of those cantatas where multiple versions exist. Like you, I have what exists by H+L, Suzuki, Gardiner, Rilling, Leusink, Herreweghe and various other recordings which have something special to offer. I don't know how necessary it is to have every set available. So, if money is a consideration for you, as it is for me, if I had a limited budget, I might spend my money on an alltogether different approach, eg some OVPP recordings from Montreal Baroque, the Ricercar consort etc. I don't have any of the Montreal recordings yet but I certainly intend to get some when I have exhausted some of my other priorities!

Incidentally, this topic should really be discussed on the Bach cantatas mailing list, but I'm very pleased you posted it here because I wouldn't have seen it otherwise!

Meidad Zaharia wrote (February 1, 2010):
[To Julian Mincham] Thanks for the info JM,

You gave me a good starting point to order this set.

Thanks again,

Meidad Zaharia wrote (February 1, 2010):
[To John Pike] I totally agree with your point that we don't need every cycle recorded. I think i will be a minority if i will say that i love the best the H&L set because of the boys choir so if koopman was recording with boys choir only i think i would jump on it.

As for spending $$$, right, i think we should spend $$$ on other composers (e.g. Buxtehude) as well rather then anothr cycle unless it's really revolutionary ;-)

Can you tell me what's: OVPP recordings from Montreal Baroque?
Never heard ot it.

Thanks,

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 1, 2010):
Meidad Zaharia wrote:
< I totally agree with your point that we don't need every cycle recorded. I think i will be a minority if i will say that i love the best the H&L set because of the boys choir so if koopman was recording with boys choir only i think i would jump on it. >
I think that, in today's market, paying $400 for 67 CDs is excessive. The set will certainly be released eventually in a much cheaper box, because few people are willing to pay that much. Even when I bought my Harnoncourt/Leonhardt set more than a dozen years ago it was less than that.

John Pike wrote (February 1, 2010):
[To Meidad Zaharia] I don't find the H+L set as polished as some of the other sets, but the boys choirs and soloists certainly give it an element of authenticity not found in other recordings. Some of the H+L set is thrilling. For example, I love the opening movement of BWV 133, with its sheer unadulterated sense of joyful music making, entirely appropriate for a Christmas cantata.

OVPP means "One Voice Per Part", often discussed with "OPPP", "one player per part". There is quite a lot of evidence (though, except for a few noptable exceptions, not totally conclusive in a legalistic or scientific sense) that Bach used only one singer or player for each part. This subject has been discussed a lot on the Bach lists and those dicussions can be found on the Bach Cantatas website. The evidence can be found in books by Andrew Parrott "The Essential Bach Choir" and Joshua Rifkin "Bach's Choral ideal". There can be no doubt that in the St Matthew Passion, for example, OVPP was intended, from the parts that exist.

Whatever one thinks about the evidence for OVPP, it is well worth trying some cantata and passion recordings that use this approach (eg by Parrott and Rifkin themselves and by Montreal Baroque). For myself, I have found the results extremely satisfying, even though I am not totally persuaded by the evidence that exists that this was Bach's approach for all his choral works.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 1, 2010):
[To Meidad Zaharia] I'm sure there are many things in it you will enjoy.

Meidad Zaharia wrote (February 1, 2010):
[To Kirk McElhearn] Reember that every set of 3 cd's of Koopman was about $55 each so 20 X 55 was about $1100, making $400 approx 35% of the price.

Meidad Zaharia wrote (February 1, 2010):
[To John Oike] Thanks John,

Got it. I didn't know the short cuts :-)

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 1, 2010):
Meidad Zaharia wrote:
< Remember that every set of 3 cd's of Koopman was about $55 each so 20 X 55 was about $1100, making $400 approx 35% of the price. >
So what? It'll be even cheaper in the future.

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 1, 2010):
Meidad Zaharia asked:
"Can you tell me what's: OVPP recordings from Montreal Baroque? Never heard of it."

Eric Milnes & Montreal Baroque: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Milnes.htm
So far they have released one album a year. If they continue with the same pace, it seems that some of us would not be around to see this cycle completed.

Other OVPP cantata cycles:
Sigiswald Kuijken & La Petite Bande: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Kuijken-Rec2.htm
A planned series of 20 albums, 9 of them have been released so far.

Rudolf Lutz & Schola Seconda Pratica: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Lutz-R.htm
20 DVD's so far, each containing one cantata. Some are OVPP.


Some of the older mini-cycles have their special merits, especially the quality of singers:
Karl Richter: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Richter.htm
75 cantatas on 26 CD's (5 boxes)

Fritz Werner: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Werner-Rec2.htm
About 60 cantatas on 20 CD's (2 boxes).

Helmuth Winschermann: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Winschermann.htm
5-CD box set with 13 cantatas & more.


Another interesting mini-cycle by Emiko Ohmura: & Bach-Chor Tokyo: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Ohmura.htm
50 cantatas on 20 CD's, all sung in Japanese translation!

Meidad Zaharia wrote (February 1, 2010):
[To Aryeh Oron] Many thanks Aryeh!

I got the Richter, it's fantastic even if it's too bombastic.

I will check the links you added ASAP.
Thanks,

Jens F. Laurson wrote (February 1, 2010):
1.) Is Koopman's necessary?

No. Of course not. No cycle is. Bach is necessary.

2.) Is Koopman's set tempting?

Yes. While I have never regarded individual cantatas or sets with Koopman as "the best", the more I hear of him as the cantatas are being re-issued (or as I revisit them), the more I find that among the complete cycles, there is no one who comes close to Koopman in an 'overall-sort-of-pleasing' sense.

With all deference to the emotional imprint Harnoncourt/Leonhardt have left with early collectors, the quality of the playing (and often the singing) isn't anywhere the sets that were to come... including Leusink's on Brilliant. Emotional favorites they may be, but objectively better (or even equal), they are not.

Rilling, as we hear more and more modern HIP performances, starts to sound awfully dull... unlike Karl Richter, who I continue to enjoy, love and adore, I find Rilling ages badly.

Leusink is better than its reputation, but not terribly impressive. Gardiner overrated--his sense of excitement and occasion occasionally dulled by, well... not living up to the insanely high expectations I had of his SDG cycle, I suppose. Suzuki at his best if fantastic; he's got the best 'highlights' among the complete cycles me thinks. But too often I am left uninvolved... the readings sound 'skinny'.

I only enjoy Herreweghe more than Koopman and I admire Kuijken's one-year cycle on Accent. (Smashing hard-core OVPP.) But the pragmatic HIP style of Koopman wins out to my ears when it come to complete cycles. Does that make it a necessary addition? No... But--assuming one feels similarly about it--it's a reason to consider it.

3.) (Re: Kirk) $400,- for 67 CDs excessive? First of all, Harnoncourt/Leonhardt was never less than that until the most recent, third re-issue. Please consider PPP (purchasing power parity)-adjusting, before making absurd claims like that. Secondly, this is a sign that value and price are becoming divorced entities... as if, somehow, we have become so insensitive to what goes into the making of a recording that we can, without flinching, think that $5.97 (or EUR4.12 for one CD with anywhere from two to four Bach cantatas) is "excessive". I know that no disrespect towards the artists involved, the financial risk, the typographers, the designers, the researchers, the liner note writers and translators, the distributors, and the retailers was involved in making that instinctive statement... but I would have thought that on a Bach list like this, the idea of value..

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 1, 2010):
Jens F. Laurson wrote:
< 3.) (Re: Kirk) $400,- for 67 CDs excessive? First of all, Harnoncourt/Leonhardt was never less than that until the most recent, third re-issue. Please consider PPP (purchasing power parity)-adjusting, before making absurd claims like that. Secondly, this is a sign that value and price are becoming divorced entities... as if, somehow, we have become so insensitive to what goes into the making of a recording that we can, without flinching, think that $5.97 (or EUR4.12 for one CD with anywhere from two to four Bach cantatas) is "excessive". I know that no disrespect towards the artists involved, the financial risk, the typographers, the designers, the researchers, the liner note writers and translators, the distributors, and the retailers was involved in making that instinctive statement... but I would have thought that on a Bach list like this, the idea of value...>
When I bought it in France, about a dozen years ago, it was less expensive than that. And it is now _much_ less expensive than $400.

Randy Lane wrote (February 1, 2010):
[To John Pike] The 67 CDs includes the Secular cantatas. Others that top out at 60 CDs (H/L, Rilling, and Leusink) only include teh Sacred cantatas.

Randy Lane wrote (February 1, 2010):
[To Meidad Zaharia] I've got the 67 CDs pre-ordered at CdUniverse for $320 + S/H, totalling about $329. In Europe the 67 CD box is retailing for around $700 or more: http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=8076003&style=classical

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 1, 2010):
Randy Lane wrote:
< I've got the 67 CDs pre-ordered at CdUniverse for $320 + S/H, totalling about $329. In Europe the 67 CD box is retailing for around $700 or more: http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=8076003&style=classical >
It's showing as not yet available on Amazon FR.

For those interesting, there's a cheap sampler disc that I reviewed for MusicWeb:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2009/Sept09/Bach_koopman_cc72337.htm

Where I commented on the price of the individual sets… Because we didn't know that there was going to be a box released.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 1, 2010):
Randy Lane wrote:
< The 67 CDs includes the Secular cantatas. Others that top out at 60 CDs (H/L, Rilling, and Leusink) only include teh Sacred cantatas. >
And, a point already touched upon, also providing alternative transcriptions by Bach himself. For example both BWV 134 and BWV 134a with the re-written recitatives.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 1, 2010):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< And, a point already touched upon, also providing alternative transcriptions by Bach himself. For example both BWV 134 and BWV 134a with the re-written recitatives. >
Koopman gives altenative versions of sacred cantatas as well, it's not just that the secular ones were included.

Frankly, the inclusion of the secular cantatas are the hands down deciding factor for Koopman's set. His reading of BWV 208a is fantastic (the March is the best recorded, I love the lute!). I will say, the audio quality in Koopman's recordings sagged after Erato pulled out of the project, starting around Vol 14/15, it was very noticable to me anyway.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 1, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] BWV 134 is a sacred cantata adapted from a secular Cöthen original and reworked again (BWV 134a) in the 1730s. Koopman gives both complete recordings in box 10.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 1, 2010):
Randy Lane wrote:
< I've got the 67 CDs pre-ordered at CdUniverse for $320 + S/H, totalling about $329. In Europe the 67 CD box is retailing for around $700 or more: http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=8076003&style=classical >
On the related topic of the H&L Teldec set, this from BRO (Berkshire):

<Bach, The Sacred Cantatas. (Cond. Harnoncourt & Leonhardt. PLEASE NOTE: this is the fully-annotated version, not the 'bargain box' package.>

i.e., the penultimate package that was referenced in the present BCML thread.

60 CDs for $240 plus a bit of S&H, this set has been in the BRO catalog more or less continuously for several years. As Jens noted, mainly of historic interest, at this point, for overall performance quality, but there are details of lasting value throughout. I find the vocal work of Max von Egmond, Kurt Equiluz, and Paul Esswood very enduring. I just noticed, they could have been billed as the three EEEs. EEE-Z on the Ears.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 1, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I find the vocal work of Max von , Kurt Equiluz, and Paul Esswood very enduring. I just noticed, they could have been billed as the three EEEs. EEE-Z on the Ears. >
Ok, I LOLed in real life with that, I loved that! Good one Ed :-)

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 1, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Frankly, the inclusion of the secular cantatas are the hands down >deciding factor for Koopman's set. His reading of BWV 208a is fantastic >(the March is the best recorded, I love the lute!). I will say, the >audio quality in Koopman's recordings sagged after Erato pulled out of the project, starting around Vol 14/15, it was very noticable to me anyway. >
The original question was: what, if any, unique value does the Koopman set add? In fact, as the exchange between Julian and Kim remind us, it is the most complete set, by far. I do not believe there is anything on the horizon to suggest that is likely to change. The alternate versions of individual movements within the sacred cantatas are particularly handy.

I recall some chat a few years back, offering the opinion that the audio quality got better, beginning around Vol 7 (+/-). Is there any detail on the reason for this, as well as a comparison with Kims opinion of another change circa Vol 15?

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 1, 2010):
Myskowski wrote:
< I recall some chat a few years back, offering the opinion that the audio quality got better, beginning around Vol 7 (+/-). Is there any detail on the reason for this, as well as a >comparison with Kims opinion of another change circa Vol 15? >
No surprise that there is already good info in the BCW archives:

(1) The improvement at Vol. 7 was not audio, it was in fact the debut of alto Bogna Bartosz!

(2) The BCW discography is divided at Vol 12 (I hope I remember that correctly from two minutes ago!), the last one recorded by Erato.

I seem to recall that Craig Smith of Emmanuel Music was quietly involved as an adviser to the project at some point, I will try to track that down.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 1, 2010):
I point out this bit of detail from the BCW archives, without further comment:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Koopman-Gen1.htm

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 3, 2010):
John Pike wrote [To Meidad]:
>> I don't have the Koopman set, much as I would like it and some of them have >> been very highly reviewed as "top recording" in BBC music magazine. <<
I really don't care what the BBC music magazine or any other magazine review has ever to say. This is for one simple reason. We each, including the most erudite of music critics, have our our own personal response to any interpretation of any music we love and have long listened to.

>> Another of the benefits of this set is its comprehensiveness. At 67 CDs, it is 7 CDs longer than most "complete sets" and I understand that Koopman recorded all the different versions of those cantatas where multiple versions exist. <<
I agree with you and others that recording the multiple versions, instead of extra mvts. merely as some sets do, is a big plus.

>> Like you, I have what exists by H+L, Suzuki, Gardiner, Rilling, Leusink, Herreweghe and various other recordings which have something special to offer. I don't know how necessary it is to have every set available. <<
I again I totally concur that I, for myself, see little reason to have multipe complete sets.

>> So, if money is a consideration for you, as it is for me, if I had a limited budget, I might spend my money on an alltogether different approach, eg some OVPP recordings from Montreal Baroque, the Ricercar consort etc. <<
The four or so Bach Cantatas with Ricercar that I have I hold as very special.I hold as very special a number of other individual performances, not part of a set and expect to keep on collecting such individual items.

>> I don't have any of the Montreal recordings yet but I certainly intend to get some when I have exhausted some of my other priorities! Incidentally, this topic should really be discussed on the Bach cantatas mailing list, but I'm very pleased you posted it here because I wouldn't have seen it otherwise! <<
Finally, I am amazed at those few who offer their opinions as fact. To say that BWV 134 and BWV 134a are included is fact. To say that Harnoncourt-Leonhardt is awful and that Leusink is superior and that so and so is supreme is opinion. Anyone so stating owes his fellow-listers in my humble opinion the respect of stating his own opinion or his own response as such and not as fact.

There are many Bach recordings (and and of everyone else whose music I listen to) that I don't respond to at all. I acknowledge that others do. I, myself, have one four CD box of Koopman's Secular Cantatas and don't respond to them at all. I don't much respond to Herreweghe ever and, as to Rilling, only to his late recordings including some of the so called Secular cantatas move me. Rilling did change late in his career. I too would not see this interesting thread if posted on the theocratic list.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 3, 2010):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< I too would not see this interesting thread if posted on the theocratic list. >
Benvenuto, Yoel,

This Koopman thread was posted to BRML in error, quite rare in fact. Imagine what else you are missing, which is properly categorized.

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion that BCML is theocratic. But to state it as fact, after a diatribe about opinion vs fact, is self-revealing.

Randy Lane wrote (February 11, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] I got my copy from CD Universe toay ($320 including S&H).
A few notes.
CDs are in cardboard sleeves
The backs of the sleeves list the track range for each cantata on the disk, but not the individual tracks or the artists.

CDs are in the same original order as they were issued.

Randy Lane wrote (February 11, 2010):
Sorry, I hit send by accident.

To continue.
The backs of the sleeves list the track range for each cantata on the disk, but not the individual tracks or the artists.
While not perfect (the track and artist info would be helpful), I far prefer this to paper sleeves that have no info on them at all.The box is sturdy with a hinged top.
The booklet lists the track contents, and identifies the artists by CD. The booklet does NOT contain any of the "literature" that accompanied the original disks, and sung texts/translations are not included. There is also no CD-ROM that includes that information, and I see no indication it is available online. So if you are looking for a set that has any of that, look elsewhere.

The cantatas are arranged on the CDs in the original order that the CDs were issued in. And, the booklet does NOT contain and index. So, good luck finding any individual canatas within the box. But I believe that is a carry-over deficiency from the original issues as well.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 11, 2010):
[To Randy Lane] Hi Randy Thanks for thi s info--I was wondering what this new deal offered.

I bought them all in the original plastic box sets as they came out, starting over 10 years ago I think.having heard a lot of other versions since then I still think that for consistency and quality of orchestral playing and choral singing they stand up well. I don't think you are missing much with the lack of notes (very minimal by C Wolff and far less than,and only doubling what you can find in Dürr anyhow) and the translations are, in my view inferior to those by Stokes or Jones anyway.

So enjoy them--let us know what you think about the performances once you have got stuck into them!!

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 12, 2010):
Randy Lane wrote:
< The cantatas are arranged on the CDs in the original order that the CDs were issued in. And, the booklet does NOT contain an index. So, good luck finding any individual canatas within the box. But I believe that is a carry-over deficiency from the original issues as well. >
Dis-order would perhaps be a better descriptive word, other than the loosely chronologic progression. It is indeed a carry-over deficiency, bdoes not a condensed reissue format provide a nice opportunity to correct that? The easiest way to find a particular cantata is to go to the BCW page, and find out from the discography which volume it is on!

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 12, 2010):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Having heard a lot of other versions since then I still think that for consistency and quality >of orchestral playing and choral singing they stand up well. >
Very much so, and the best (only?) reference set, even if other performances of particular cantatas are more satisfying in manyinstances.

>the translations are, in my view inferior to those by Stokes or Jones anyway.

This provides a neat opportunity for a BCW plug I have been meaning to insert. Two other fine translations:

Interlinear by Francis Browne, specifically (penitentially!) done for BCW (English 3)

By a performer who has sung just about all, Pamela Dellal, for Emmanuel Music, linked via BCW (English 6)

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 12, 2010):
To Randy Lane & Ed Myskowski] Another option is using the table on the BCW, which presents for every cantata the location (Vol./CD number) in the major recorded cantata series (Rilling, Suzuki, Koopman, H&L, Gardiner, Leusink, etc.). See:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Recordings-Table.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Recordings-Table-Remark.htm

I have to update the table with the recent releases in the Gardiner & Suzuki series.

Randy Lane wrote (February 12, 2010):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks everyone.
I am already well acquainted with the resources, and have others myself.I posted the deficiencies about the set primarily for others who may nothave (or want to use) such resources.
Knowing these deficiencies is also handy if others ask us forrecommendations. If any of us recommend a set like this to others, we shouldtake the time to point up difficulties, like the lack of an index for thisset, and the available solutions.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 12, 2010):
Randy Lane wrote:
< Sorry, I hit send by accident.
To continue.
The backs of the sleeves list the track range for each cantata on the disk, but not the individual tracks or the artists. While not perfect (the track and artist info would be helpful), I far prefer this to paper sleeves that have no info on them at all. The box is sturdy with a hinged top.The booklet lists the track contents, and identifies the artists by CD. >
Thank you for the information.
I am happy to note that a favorite box of mine, which dear Aryeh neglected to mention in his listing of some boxes and DVDs the other day, the Ramin box with 27 cantatas (+Johannes-Passion + Organ CD) lists on the back of every sturdy cardboard sleeve all the aria and recitative names (with e.g. bass or tenor and so forth) followed by the singers who participate. This box which I long sought is available cheap from Amazon sellers and will likely sooner or later disappear.It includes, some of the cantatas with boy soprano and alto, others with female or various combinations. It also includes full German (only) libretti.

I find the non-listing of whatever on sleeves insufferable such as e.g. the Munch Berlioz box (which I do not recommend anyway). One has to search all over to find the singers for various works.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 13, 2010):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< Another option is using the table on the BCW, which presents for every cantata the location (Vol./CD number) in the major recorded cantata series (Rilling, Suzuki, Koopman, H&L, Gardiner, Leusink, etc.). See:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Recordings-Table.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Recordings-Table-Remark.htm >
These tables are so useful and concise I printed out hard copy a couple years ago, adding many personal notes. The reality of filing etc. is that it is usually quicker for me to grab the laptop to look up Koopman vol. nos., rather than to find the printed index.

The BCW resource is unsurpassed, thanks, Aryeh!

 

BCW: Ton Koopman’s recordings of Bach Cantatas

Aryeh Oron wrote (May 30, 2011):
The pages of Ton Koopman’s Bach Cantata recordings on the BCW have recently been revised and updated. These pages include the 12 old Erato boxes, the 22 Antoine Marchand/Challenge Classics boxes, the series of Single Volume Cantatas and Box Sets. All the relevant cantata pages have been updated as well.

All are linked from the main page of Koopman’s Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works:
http://bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Koopman.htm

 

Ton Koopman on radio

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 3, 2012):
Friday, May 16, from noon to 10PM EDT, WHRB will air a *small sample* of the recordings of Ton Koopman, including selections from the cantatas, organ, and orchestral works of JSBach. I access thse broadcasts via 95.3 FM, but they are also available on the internet via: www.whrb.org

The current program is also of interest to folks like Aryeh and myself, who are passionate about both Bach and jazz: 18 hours per day (5AM to 11PM EDT) May 1 to 4, The Blue Note 1500 series, 97 LPs released between 1955 and 1958, <some of the earliest recordings of Blue Notes most enduring masters -- Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane ...>, and many, many more. Not too late to enjoy the concludion.

 

Ton Koopman: Short Biography | Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
Recordings of Vocal Works:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Recordings of Instrumental Works: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Koopman’s Petition | Newsletters
Cantatas::
Koopman on TV | Cantatas Vol. 1 | Cantatas Vol. 6 | Cantatas Vol. 9 | Cantatas Vol. 10 | Cantatas Vol. 13 | Cantatas Vol. 14 | Cantatas Vol. 17 | Cantatas Vol. 22
Other Vocal Works:
BWV 244 - T. Koopman | BWV 247 - T. Koopman
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Ton Koopman’s Well Tempered Clavier Book 1 | Bach Sonatas for Gamba and Harpsichord | Review: Bach Orchestral Suites DVD
Discussions of Instrumental Recordings:
Die Kunst der Fuge BWV 1080 - played by T. Koopman
Books:
The World of the Bach Cantatas [by C. Wolff & T. Koopman]
Article:
Bach’s Choir and Orchestra [by T. Koopman]
Table of recordings by BWV Number

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Last update: ýAugust 21, 2012 ý21:42:57