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Fritz Werner & Heinrich Schütz Choir of Heilbronn & Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra
Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works
General Discussions

Fritz Werner (was Re: BWV 6)

George Murnu wrote (April 21, 1998):
I myself got back from a trip to NY this weekend and I bought a few Bach recordings, more specifically another re-issue of some of the cantatas conducted by Fritz Werner. So far Erato has re-issued four sets, each with two CD's, of these recordings originally made in the sixties, some in the early seventies; I only have three of these sets in my collection. First of all this is not a complete series: Werner did not record all Bach cantatas, although he did manage to record a great number of them. He uses the Heinrich Schütz choir of Heilbronn, of which he was the founder, and the Chamber Orchestra of Pforzheim. Some of the instrumental soloists are first rate musicians: Maurice André, Hermann Baumann, Pierre Pierlot, Marie-Claire Alain, etc. (naturally, none appear in all the recordings but they are frequently featured nonetheless.) These are vintage readings for that period, which means that the tempi are moderate, even slow by today's standards, the ensembles larger than today, and the phrasing conservative. Sometimes such an approach can work, yet many times one wishes a little more imagination, a little more interpretation, a little more vigour especially in the fast sections. My biggest problem with these performances is the recitatives. As for the soloists, some are excellent, especially Helmuth Krebs, but the bases usually leave a lot to be desired with the exception of Jakob Stämpfli. I generally like the performances of slow movements: it is refreshing to hear somebody taking their time to bring the majesty of Bach's music. So I would conclude that while these are not my first choices even among modern instruments performances, I am nonetheless glad to hear them.

As for the performance of BWV 6 I would repeat and say that I especially like the opening chorus taken very slowly (8:06 in comparison with Rilling's 5:37; Rilling is more vigorous in the fugue of the middle section though), but that overall as a performance I prefer Rilling. So not the perfect BWV 6, but one which made me see different aspects of the work.

 

Fritz Werner

Philip Peters wrote (November 19, 1999):
I also bought some LP's containing cantatas recorded by Fritz Werner on Erato. These are if anything even better. This comes as a total surprise to me as I didn't think I would ever buy non-HIP Bach anymore (with an exception for the keyboard works).

Wim Huisjes wrote (November 20, 1999):
Know even less of Fritz Werner, except that he was one of the pioneers in opening up Bach's cantatas in the early sixties. Erato released four 2 CD boxes with cantatas, but apparently has no plans to release all his performances (the last volume came out a few years ago and I haven't heard anything since). His performance of the opening choir of BWV 104 is heartbreaking. His performances of SJP and SMP are/have been available. Unfortunately the Weihnachtsoratorium not.

Hope Erato will come to their senses and will release them all. On all these performances: you should be glued to your CD player. If you can get some LP's: rush!

 

Fritz Werner Bach Cantatas Recording

Wim Huisjes wrote:
I'm not sure whether Fritz Werner recorded BWV 65. If so, I must have been blind at the time.

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 12, 2000):
Hi Wim, Sorry to disappoint you. But Werner indeed recorded BWV 65. It appeared on Musical Heritage Society LP MHS-653 coupled with BWV 6. I do not have it, so I cannot give any opinion.

< ERATO: there's work to be done on all of Werner's recordings. There's a lot more than the four 2-CD sets that are/have been available. >
From a private research that I did, I found out that MHS issued more than 20 LP's of Cantatas recordings by Fritz Werner (Licensed from Erato). Erato itself reissued 5 double CD's (not 4) and another Double CD was issued by Ultima (duplicating some of the Erato Material, or is it a later recording?). All in all, according to my lists, Werner recorded about 60 Cantatas. Almost all his recordings are out of print and almost impossible to get. His recordings are owned by Erato, a label under the wings of Werner Group (don't they cherish the name?). Werner Group has already the complete set of Teldec and they are about half of the way with Koopman's project. There was a time when they even owned the complete set of Rilling! I wish they would issue a set of all The Werner Cantatas recordings, but it seems that there is a very little probability that they will do so.

BTW, I have only one LP of Fritz Werner recording of Bach's Cantatas (MHS-1001 - BWV 68, 98, BWV 53).

Carl Burmeister wrote (January 13, 2000):
Hi Aryeh, I have Werner conducting BWV 43 and BWV 182 on an Epic LP and its one of my favorite cantata recordings. It's with the Heinrich Schütz chorale and the Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra. Epic BC 1276.

Wim Huisjes wrote (January 13, 2000):
Hi Aryeh, So to sum it up, it seems I'm reasonably well off on the cantatas by Werner.

I have 9 of the Musical Heritage LP's and later on managed to add 4 Erato ones. In those vinyl days Erato was a small independent label: in order to get an Erato recording of Werner or Rilling you were almost forced to go on holiday to France.

The Rilling cantata set really has a sad history of mainly bad marketing. But that's water under the bridge.

Could you tell me what I'm missing on CD? I wasn't aware of a fifth double CD, nor of the Ultima one. What I have on CD is:

Erato:
4509-98525-2: BWV 76, 6, 67, 80, 87, 31
4509-97407-2: BWV 61, 26, 130, 8, 182, 43, BWV 85
0630-11223-2: BWV 19, BWV 140, 149, BWV 70, 180, 40
0630-12978-2: BWV 11, 30, 104 (!), 68, 7

If you have the information available, I'd appreciate it,

P.S. The name of the parent company is Warner. But I do hope somebody over there ever heard of Werner!

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 13, 2000):
Here is a list of Fritz Werner recordings of Choral music by J.S. Bach. I compiled it from various sources and I am not sure that it is complete. There are many Cantatas which appear only in CD form and not on LP and vice versa. What a shame that such a big treasure is not available to us - The Bach's Cantatas lovers.

N

Compositions

Type

Label

Number

A

Cantatas BWV 4,21, BWV 90, BWV 140, BWV 147

2-CD

Erato

2292-44544-2

B

Cantatas BWV 8,26,43,61, BWV 85,130,182

2-CD

Erato

4509-97407-2

C

Cantatas BWV 6,31,67,76,80,87

2-CD

Erato

4509-98525-2

D

Cantatas BWV 19,40, BWV 70, BWV 140,149,180

2-CD

Erato

0630-11223-2

E

Cantatas BWV 7,11,30,68,104

2-CD

Erato

0630-12978-2

F

Cantatas BWV BWV 28, BWV 85, BWV 90, BWV 119, BWV 140, BWV 147

2-CD

Ultima

3984-28166-2

G

Johannes Passion BWV 245

2-CD

Erato

2292-45443-2

1

Cantatas BWV 26,61

LP

MHS

MHS-516

2

Cantata BWV 21

LP

MHS

MHS-527

3

Cantatas BWV 4, BWV 34

LP

MHS

MHS-568

4

Cantatas BWV 6,65

LP

MHS

MHS-653

5

Cantata BWV 76

LP

MHS

MHS-661

6

Cantatas BWV 106,79

LP

MHS

MHS-665

7

Cantatas BWV 80,87

LP

MHS

MHS-666

8

Cantatas BWV BWV 119, BWV 28

LP

MHS

MHS-725

9

Cantatas BWV 56,82

LP

MHS

MHS-750

10

Cantatas BWV 131,149

LP

MHS

MHS-760

11

Cantatas BWV l,10

LP

MHS

MHS-772

12

Cantatas BWV 19,40,50

LP

MHS

MHS-780

13

Cantatas BWV 11,104

LP

MHS

MHS-812

14

Cantatas BWV 140, BWV 85

LP

MHS

MHS-823

15

Cantatas BWV 182,43

LP

MHS

MHS-832

16

Cantatas BWV 103,200,118,7

LP

MHS

MHS-928

17

Cantatas BWV 68,98, BWV 53

LP

MHS

MHS-1001

18

Cantatas BWV 57,32

LP

MHS

MHS-1007

19

Cantatas BWV 147, BWV 90

LP

MHS

MHS-1014

20

Cantatas BWV 31,105

LP

MHS

MHS-1023

21

Cantatas BWV BWV 70 ,180

LP

MHS

MHS-1119

22

Christmas Oratorio BWV 248

3-LP

MHS

MHS-830571

Wim Huisjes wrote (January 13, 2000):
Thanks for the info, Aryeh. A quick phone call learned that all 2 CD-sets are out of print, so most likely I can forget about the fifth one on Erato. The one in the Ultima series may still be available. www.kuijperklassiek.nl is searching...

BTW: Werner's performance of SMP ever made it on Erato CD: ECD 50543 (no date mentioned). Considering the format of the number: must be an old one. Found it in the sales bin of a large department store.

 

Werner - BWV 140

Jane Newble wrote (January 22, 2000):
Yesterday I was listening to the three performances of BWV 140 I have (Richter, Werner and Rilling), and the Werner one is on the 2CD Ultima label. But it does not say in the booklet who the bass is for this cantata. Does anyone know?

Wim Huisjes wrote (January 22, 2000):
Erato is a bit sloppy in their booklets they enclose with the Werner cantata recordings. For example, too often 2 sopranos are mentioned, while clearly one and the same is singing. According to the Erato CD booklet I have, Franz Kelch is the bass in BWV 140. However, on the LP sleeve Jakob Stämpfli is mentioned. AFAIK Werner recorded BWV 140 only once, so I can't give you an answer off-hand. I don't know Kelch's voice very well, but when I have time I'll do some listening and figure out which one it is.

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 31, 2000):
I know it is a little bit late, but I received my copy of Fritz Werner's Bach Cantatas on Ultima/Erato label (3984-28166-2) yesterday afternoon (ordered from amazon.uk). The double CD includes Cantatas BWV 140, BWV 119, BWV 90, BWV 147, BWV 85, BWV 28. I have not listened to it yet. But on the back cover and on the internal booklet it is written clearly that the Bass in BWV 140 is Jakob Stämpfli.

 

BWV 85 - Ich bin ein guter Hirt -Werner

Marie Jensen wrote (June 11, 2000):
In one of the CD-shops I visit now and then, I found a double Werner by chance (BWV 119, BWV 140, BWV 90, BWV 147, BWV 85, BWV 28) Erato 3984-28166-2. As I didn't know the old NON-Hipper, I bought it, expecting that a new release of the old material (1963,1970) would be something special, perhaps a little like Richter.

But I was so disappointed when I listened to the great choruses: so slow, uninspired, like a Walkman playing on the last of its batteries. I heard BWV 140, BWV 119, and couldn't take anymore. Next day I heard BWV 147, Oh help! Though some of the arias were sung well.

But then surprise, surprise! BWV 85. I agree with Aryeh, when he writes: "The accompaniment is very humble along the whole performance of this Cantata. A good start for the comparison, on very high level from an unexpected source." Yes indeed. When Werner leaves big orchestra and choir settings and goes into the more intimate chamber music, he does very well. Especially the tenor aria with Huber is so expressive and beautiful, though some of the rallentandos and pianos are not in the score, I'm sure.

It is indeed a shame, that the quality of the CD's is so variating. His BWV 90 is not so bad either.

Only the BWV numbers are mentioned on the cover. You have to read the small letters in the booklet to find the cantata titles, and the information printed on one of the CD's is wrong.

 

Fritz Werner

Peter Tanzer wrote (November 13, 2001):
Hi everyone! I'm new here though I've been reading your mail with interest for a while now. I just got lucky - purchasing a number of 1950's-1960's LP recordings of the Cantatas, all for one dollar apiece!! Among them are a number of Fritz Werner recordings on MHS, company which evidently gives more information than does its brother (sister?) company Erato. In particular, you have Werner's recording of Cantatas BWV 70 and BWV 180 listed with unknown singers, apart from the tenor Kurt Hubner. Well, the other singers are: Hedy Graf, soprano; Barbara Scherler, Alto; Jakob Stämpfli (with umlaut over the "a"), with the Heinrich Schütz Choir and The Instrumental Ensemble of Heilbronn. Werner's usual orchestra was of course the Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra. Given enough time, I could probably piece together when it was recorded. I won't make any comments now about this and the other recordings, save to say that I admire it and the other ones I heard, especially, but not
only! - for the singing.

I do not have any LPs on the Erato Label - yet I ask if they are really labeled "Les grandes cantatas de Bach", since the proper French would be: "Les grandes cantates de Bach". However, Erato is so sloppy in presenting them - anyone who has the CD with BWV 140, BWV 119, BWV 90, BWV 147, BWV 85 and BWV 28 will know what I mean, that perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.

I hope to offer some more pure information later, and I hope as well to take part in the discussions.

Peter Tanzer wrote (November 13, 2001):
To follow up my last message: my name, by the way, is Peter Tanzer.

Peter Tanzer wrote (November 15, 2001):
Hi everyone! Aryeh, I'm new here and I don't know if you got my previous note concerning Fritz Werner's recording of Cantatas BWV 70 and BWV 180, where I fill in the details missing from your discography of his Bach vocal recordings. If not, let me know. In the meantime, I'd like to follow up by supplying details for his recording of BWV 4 & BWV 34. On this recording are: Claudia Hellmann, alto; Helmut Krebs, tenor; Jakob Stämpfli, bass. The instrumentalist are: Maxence Larrieu and Hartmut Strebel, flutes; Jakoba Muckel, violoncello; Eva Holderin, organ, with the usual Heinrich Schütz Choir of Heilbronn and the Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra.

Aryeh Oron wrote (November 15, 2001):
[To Peter Tanzer] Welcome aboard!

Thanks a lot for the info about Fritz Werner's recordings. I saw also your previous message. I shall update the relevant enries in the pages of the Bach Cantatas Website
dedicated to Werner's recordings. Will you be please so kind to give also the information who are the actual singers in each cantata and the total playing time for each cantata. It will help me updating the list of recordings for each singer and the relevant cantata pages.

Peter Tanzer wrote (November 15, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] I'll try to fill you in, however, since I have not had time to listen to the particular recordings I mentioned (having been lucky enough to purchase more than I could listen to in two weeks!), I'll have to trust whatever it says on the MHS records. On MHS 568 are cantatas BWV 4 & BWV 34: both cantatas have Claudia Hellman, alto; Helmut Krebs, tenor and Jakob Stampfli, bass. Strangely, although the great early cantata BWV 4 "Christ lag in Todesband" has two duets with a soprano voice, no soprano is listed on the LP. As I said, I haven't yet had time to listen to it: wouldn't it be nice if it turned out to be the great Agnes Giebel, who was often (especially on his earlier recordings) Werner's soprano. A propos, I'm amazed that Giebel is not more discussed in the performer's section of the website: if there has been a greater recorded liturgical soprano, from Bach to Haydn to Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, I'm sure I don't know her name.

The times are: 28'16 for BWV 4 and 19'40 for BWV 34.

As to MHS 1119, which has BWV 70 and BWV 180, the singers I listed, to wit Hedy Graf (one of Giebel's successors for Werner) soprano; Barbara Scherler, alto; Kurt Hubner, Tenor; Jakob Stampfl, bass, appear on both cantatas. Cantata BWV 70 is 27'11, and Cantata BWV 180 28'38.

I hope this is satisfactory, at least for now. With a little time to go through what I bought, and checking it against what you have listed, I should be in a position to help you fill out the discography.

Thanks for the interest.

Peter Tanzer wrote (November 15, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] Also, in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) (Werner recordings part three), you neglect to mention that Claudia Hellmann is the alto.

Rev Dr David Miell wrote (November 16, 2001):
Does anyone know if the Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra is still going? Our church (Slough, UK) is hoping to twin with a church in Pforzheim and it would be good to know if we might share a common interest in Bach cantatas. (By the way we're staging a major residential workshop with vocal and instrumental masterclasses in Bach cantatas throughout Holy Week 2002 - see details on our website www.stmarys-slough.org.uk )

Jane Newble wrote (November 21, 2001):
[To David Miell] I suppose you have seen this website?
http://home.t-online.de/home/hj.ostertag/bach.htm

 

Wernerís Bach Cantatas

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 12, 2004):
A short while ago I received the following two messages from Mike Hatch, Director, Floating Earth Ltd.
=========================================
I thought you might like to know that I am currently working on a project to re-issue all the Bach cantatas recorded by Werner for Warner classics. The plan is to issue them in two 10 CD sets during 2004. My company is responsible for making the digital transfers from the original analog tapes and compiling the new CD's.

Your website is extraordinary in scale and accuracy - there is more detailed information on it than on many of the tape boxes themselves!! Many thanks for the work you and your colleagues have put into it and I hope that there will be considerable interest in the CD's when they are available next year.
=========================================
Once again many thanks and congratulations on the site - almost as much of a magnum opus as the wonderful cantatas themselves! Please do feel free to inform the members of the mailing list about the release.
=========================================

IMHO, this is a very important release by one of the best Bach conductors of the previous generation. The singers he had at his disposal were second to none: Agnes Giebel, Hertha Töpper, Marga Höffgen, Helmut Krebs, Georg Jelden, Barry McDaniel, Jakob Stämpfli, and many others. Only part of these recordings were reissued for a short while during mid 1990's, and most of them have never been reissued in CD form. In our era, where most listeners prefer HIP renditions, it is about the time that these recordings will be exposed to a wider audience and get their due.

You can see the list of Werner's recording at the following pages:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Werner.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Werner-Rec2.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Werner-Rec3.htm
Roland Wörner, to whom I am extremely grateful, was a major source in compiling the info found in these pages.

I can hardly wait...

Uri Golomb wrote (January 12, 2004):
[To Aryeh Oron] Aryeh -- thanks for passing the information!
It is indeed very good to hear that Werner's cantata recordings will soon be available on CD. However, is there any chance that his recordings of other Bach works (listed on http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Werner-Rec3.htm) will also be available?

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 12, 2004):
[To Uri Golomb] Although not yet confirmed, most probably Warner plans another box with Bach's other vocal works conducted by Werner.

 

Reissue of complete Fritz Werner Bach recordings

Aryeh Oron wrote (April 29, 2004):
I am glad to inform you of a major release of Bach recordings

Warner Classics, Warner Music UK, who now own and manage the Erato and Teldec labels, are planning to release this year the complete Bach Cantata, Motet, Passion and Oratorio recordings made by Fritz Werner during the 1950s 1960s and 1970s for Erato.

They will be released in 3 x 10 CD sets in stages from approximately early July. All the recordings have been remastered from the original analogue master tapes by experts. The whole project is being guided by Nicholas Anderson, broadcaster and writer.

Since Warner are releasing these at a low price they will not be able to include the full text of each work, just the first line. Instead they will give a simple link to www.bach-cantatas.com encouraging listeners to look there for the full text for each work in as many languages as are available at the BCW (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew, etc.)

Nearer the time of the release, I suppose to get from Warner full details of the contents of each set plus their catalogue/selection numbers. When I have it, I shall put it at the BCW. A complete discography of Werner Bach recordings, which have been compiled with great assistance from Roland Wörner, can be found at the following page of the BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Werner.htm

[BTW, I do not have any commercial benefit from this project]

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 29, 2004):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< [BTW, I do not have any commercial benefit from this project] >
I hope you're at least getting copies of the discs!

Dale Gedcke wrote (April 29, 2004):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
"Warner Classics, Warner Music UK, who now own and manage the Erato and Teldec labels, are planning to release this year the complete Bach Cantata, Motet, Passion and Oratorio recordings made by Fritz Werner during the 1950s 1960s and 1970s for Erato."
MY QUESTION:

Aryeh, do you have any of the original Fritz Werner recordings on vinyl records? If so, how does the quality of his work compare to others (e.g., Rilling, Rifkin, Gardner, etc.)?

I am always reluctant to buy CDs re-mastered from any performances originally recorded before the early 1960s. From my youth, I remember that High Fidelity recordings became available in the early to mid 1950s, and stereo showed up around 1960. That raises the question concerning the recording quality of the Fritz Werner performances in the 1950s.

For those of you who are too young to have lived through the 1940s and 1950s, an explanation may be in order. Prior to the development of High Fidelity in the early 1950s, radios and record players had a rather limited frequency range. That meant that the deep bass notes were severely attenuated and muffled, and, more importantly, the higher frequencies of a flute or piccolo were just not in the response. The development of High Fidelity in the early 1950s improved the vacuum-tube amplifier technology the speaker technology so that the full frequency range that the human ear hears could be recorded and played back. Commercial demonstrations of the benefits of Hi Fi (as it was affectionately called) featured Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture with real cannons used for the recording. With the volume turned up, those cannon shots lifted listeners out of their seats. And the chimes came through with a new-found crystal clarity. It was a most impressive improvement at the time. Today, it is the minimum that we expect from our surround-sound systems.

John Pike wrote (April 29, 2004):
[To Dale Gedcke] Werner's recording of the SMP (BWV 244) was voted by Jonathan Freeman-Attwood in Gramophone as being one of the best 4 recordings of all time.

Ehud Shiloni wrote (April 29, 2004):
[To Dale Gedcke] And sometimes the technical qualities take a back seat to the artistic expression: I have one set of Werner's cantatas which features BWV 6. His opening chorus, slower by at least 2 minutes in comparison to other versions, is a gigantic, rivetting tour-de-force, reaching an almost unbearable climax at the end of the midsection fugue. One can hardly notice any technical imperfection in the face of such a glorious feat. The original recording is from 1961, while the CD re-issue is from 1995. I also have his SJP (BWV 245), recorded 10/1960 and remastered in 1989, which is quite good.

P.S. Warner Classics, with this decision, is partially atoning for their despicable previous decision to discontinue the Koopman cantatas project. I'd like to think that our Group's petition played a small part in this minor redemption....:)

Aryeh Oron wrote (April 29, 2004):
[To Dale Gedcke] Werner was a thoughtful Bach interpreter, whose renditions are usually interesting, almost always compelling, and many times excellent. Ehud has already mentioned his opening chorus of Cantata BWV 6, and I tend to concur with him. In these days, where many contemporary recordings are aiming at the same direction and as a consequence might sound similar to each other, Werner's interpretation are like a fresh water. Strange to speak of recordings from 3-4 decades ago as refreshing, but if you have open ears you can derive from them lot of enjoyment. Comparing him to Karl Richter, for example, reveals that usually Werner uses smaller forces (instrumental ensemble, choir), and as a result his renditions are more transparent, less ponderous, in other words more 'modern'. The main assets of these recordings are the roster of soloists. In the female department you can find first rate Bach singers as sopranos Agnes Giebel and Ingeborg Reichelt, and contraltos Claudia Hellmann and Barbara Scherler. In the men's department there are singers who are among my favourite of all time. Tenors Helmut Krebs and Georg Jelden, basses Barry McDaniel and Jakob Stampfli are second to none. No contemporary bass-baritone is close to Stampfli regarding the richness of voice, sensitivity to the context and expressive abilities. I have only part of these recordings, some on CD reissues, others are home-made transfers from the original LP's. I can hardly wait for this reissue.

Technical matters have never been an important issue for me. As a one who love Jazz recordings from the 1910's and the 1920's (Bix Beiderbecke, Jelly Roll Morton, etc.), I have learnt to listen to the players through the technical obstacles and limitations. For me expression, originality and sincerity are always more important factors than technical fineness. You can realise that recordings from the 1960's are relatively modern for me. After all the 1950's and the 1960's were the best years for Jazz: Coltrane, Dolphy, Mingus, Miles, Ayler, Pepper, Nichols... I should better stop at this point.

Back to Bach. I am aware of a plan to re-issue Grischkat Bach recordings from the 1970's and I do hope that the executives at Cantate label will do similar project with their treasures from the mini-cycle of Bach Cantatas from the 1960's.

 

Fritz Werner Fritz Werner box sets released & other reissues

Riccardo Nughes wrote (September 23, 2004):
www.mdt.co.uk has announced the release of the 3 box sets dedicated to Fritz Werner recordings for Erato on 25 October ; details here ->
Cantatas Vol.1 http://secure.mdt.co.uk/details/2564614012.htm
Cantatas Vol.2 http://secure.mdt.co.uk/details/2564614022.htm
Choral Works http://secure.mdt.co.uk/details/2564614032.htm

Some historical recordings are reissued on Archipel ->
ARPCD0269 BACH The Brandenburg Concertos 1-6 Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Paul Angerer, Walter Schneiderhan, Jascha Horenstein. Archipel 2cds
http://secure.mdt.co.uk/details/ARPCD0269.htm
ARPCD0267 BACH Cantatas BWV 32 & BWV 76. Magda Laszlo, Hilde Rossl-Majdan,
Pietre Munteanu, Richard Standen. Vienna State Opera Orchestra & Chorus
Rec.1950-52. Hermann Scherchen. Archipel
ARPCD0268 BACH Cantatas BWV 84, BW 106 & BWV140 Rec.1950-51. Laszlo, Majdan, Kmentt, Poell. Vienna State Opera Orchestra & Chorus/ Hermann
Scherchen. Archipel

Sony release for the first time on CD Tureck's Goldberg on harpsichord ->
http://secure.mdt.co.uk/details/5174912.htm

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (September 23, 2004):
[To Riccardo Nughes] Added to the two previous Roessl-Majdan/Scherchen Bach Cantatas (including GMHoffmann's) released previously on Archipel, 198; BWV 53. 54, and 170. Hope that the R-M C.P.E. Bach Magnificat (BWV 243) gets released. It was Vanguard, but I have never seen it on CD.

This is a day I have long waited for. Finally I have been listening recently to a never released in any format 1953 Orpheus und Eurydike (auf Deutsch) with R-M under Gielen. It finds her in great voice but it is hardly a preferred recording of this opera which I so cherish.Cheers and thank you again Riccardo,

Eric Bergerud wrote (September 23, 2004):
ArchivMusic.com has restocked it's collection of Brilliant Classics. All of the Bach passions and the Xmas Oratorio are available singly or in a box: all are, I believe, HIP reissues from a variety of bands. Telemann's Tafflemusik is offered complete (all four hours of it) and I think the recording is new by Musica Amphion. In-house Archive review is very keen on the Telemann. Also a boxed set of Vivaldi concertos mostly courtesy of Trevor Pinnock. A lot of other very attractive CDs. The last time I checked Archiv and Amazon they were thin indeed on Brilliant CDs. Not so for the moment. Good news for the Scots and Norwegians out there: these things go for $4.99 per disc.

 

Fritz Werner re-issue of the Church Cantatas on Erato

Ehud Shiloni wrote (November 5, 2004):
Happy to report that I am now the proud owner of vol. 1 + 2 , and vol. 3 is on its way [fron MDT]. The set includes all 55 church cantatas recorded by Werner in the early 60's. Based on the six cantatas I already have from the first CD issue, I know that I am looking forward to many hours of enjoyable listening. The set includes a very interesting booklet with in-depth background about both Werner himself and the Cantatas recordings, information not included in the previous issue.

I think Erato [owned by Warner Music] is partially atoning here for their despicable earlier dropping of the Koopman project [which - thanks heaven - is being continued by Koopman personally].

Ehud Shiloni wrote (November 9, 2004):
Well, vol. has arrived, with the Passions, XO, MBM and Motets. But, alas, the booklet is botched - missing pages substituted by duplicates of other pages.

Aryeh - perhaps you can provide an e-mail address of the right person at Erato to approacon this problem?

Thanks

P.S. I have not mentiond this, but the booklets include no texts. Instead, the following sentence appears in a prominent place on the inside front cover of each booklet:

"For complete texts please see www.bach-cantatas.com".

Kudos to Aryeh!

 

Werner cantata release (vol. 1).

Neil Halliday wrote (November 19, 2004):
Volume I consists of BWV's:
1, 4, 6, 7, 11, 23, 28, 30, 31, 32, 34, 39, 40, 43, 57, 61, 65, 67, 68, 72, 76, 82, 85, 87, 92, 103, 104, 110, 182, (and 249), recorded from c.1959 to c.1972.

What's the 'Heinrich Schütz' choir like?

Pretty good actually.

It's large and not particularly incisive, but it's rarely 'muddy' and never harsh; it usually creates a beautiful effect, is well-balanced in its four sections, with the individual parts usually being audible, and (thankfully) is entirely without vibrato.

The orchestra is excellent, as are most of the instrumental and vocal soloists.

Werner seemed to emphasize the lyrical aspects of Bach's music, in this series of cantatas. His tempos were always very moderate (his approach to the opening choruses in BWV's 1 and 7 being similar to Harnoncourt in this regard). The trumpets and timpani are brilliant and well-recorded. I've no doubt some of these movements will rank among the very best of available recordings, in future discussions.

Price of Vol. 1 is a very reasonable 35 Euros, including P/H (10CD's).
I've placed my order for Vol. 2.

Neil Halliday wrote (November 19, 2004):
The missing cantatas (hidden by that advertisement, I think) are:---
61, 65, 67, 68, 72, 76, 82, 85, 87, and 92.

John Pike wrote (November 19, 2004):
[To Neil Halliday] 35E is excellent. Where did you order them from?

Neil Halliday wrote (November 19, 2004):
[To John Pike] http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/202-3701307-8751064

 

Wir Eilen

Roger Heffner wrote (January 8, 2005):
I have an old Musical Heritage Society LS (#MHS 636) entitled Nine Celebrated Choruses. On it is a cut of Wir Eilen from Cantata BWV 78. The director was Fritz Werner with the Heinrich Schutz Chorale and Chamber Orchestra of Pforzheim. It's a fine recording and unique because it's performed by a women's chorus as opposed to soprano and contralto soloists. Do you know if this recording is available on CD? If so, can you provide me with the information I would need to order it? If not, do you know of any recordings of Wir Eilen performed by a chorus? Thank you for your help.

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 10, 2005):
[To Roger Heffner] All the recordings of Bach's vocal works conducted by Fritz Werner were reissued at the end of last year in 3 Box Sets. See:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Werner-Rec2.htm [B-1] + [B-2]
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Werner-Rec3.htm [B-3]

They can be ordered from either amazon.uk or mdt.

 

Fritz Werner recordings

Daniel Michel wrote (January 17, 2005):
I have not seen so far that any of the group members has made a comment on the appearance of the 3 CD boxes issued by Warner Classics (Erato), 2 boxes (10CD) of cantatas, 1 for Passions and Mass (BWV 232). As a young man I discovered the Bach cantatas through the records of Richter and Werner and went on praising them, despite my admiration for some of the baroque era performances and recordings. The reissue in CD of all the Werner recordings comes as a bonus (emphasised by a very reasonable price). I have been recently listening again and again to these CDs, sometimes in comparison with my old LPs I preciously kept. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Therefore I urge you te read a review made of the first volume by John Quinn who expresses in better way and more acurately what I think: (www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Nov04/Bach_cantatas1.htm) and may be acquire the boxes.

 

Bach Cantatas, by Fritz Werner

Wayne Davies wrote (July 21, 2006):
[To Aryeh Oron] I am not a member yet, but plan to join soon, as your site is outstanding.

My name is Wayne Davies and I have started listening to Bach Cantatas at the age of 7, I am now 46, I grew up listing to Richter, Werner, and others from the 60ís and 70ís.

I have heard just about all of the different recordings over the 30 years plus, I have a massive collection of Bach Cantatas on 331/2 LPís Tapes and CDís and DVDís, I have sampled them all, from Harnoncourt, Rilling, Richter, Lehmann, Gardiner, etc.

My favorite is Fritz Werners recordings of the Canatas, I have all the CDís and LPs that he did, I think the Werner loved Bach with every fiber of his being, I only wish he was around today to make the recordings because of the newer tech. in recordings, he used master orch. Players, like Andra on trumpet, great singers like Krebs, and geibel, a great choir, most of his recordings are plaged by age and the way they did it at the time, he was a master Bach interpreter.

I started listing to him at 7 on our PBS radio station and started taping him, they had a request line during the week, were you could call in and ask them to play anything from there library of recordings, I called in all the time and asked for Werners Cantatas, than I started collecting his LPís, than CDís, I have just about every recording he made in LPís and CDís.

Like is said, I only wish he could be around today to record his Bach today, he would be a star for sure, he is not well known because of the companies he used, Erato etc.. and he was over shadoed by Richter at the time, but his use of forces and singers are wonderful for sure.

Thanks again for your time, and I will be joining your site soon.

 

The Fritz Werner Bach Cantatas

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 26, 2007):
I have had a very nice surprise the last couple of days. I got Vol. 2 (10 CDs) of the 2 volumes of the fairly recent CD transfers of Werner's cantatas. This vol. 2 has indeed two performances of BWV 51 (Jauchzet) and BWV 140 (Wachet auf), earlier and later performances of these works conducted by Werner. I have been listening to 2 CDs a day which means usually six cantatas. I have just finished the fifth CD. Now I grew up, to the extent that I grew up at all, on a number of these Werner cantatas and that primarily bc. they were offered through the Musical Heritage Society. Yes, we got LPs through the mail, imagine that. I got rid of almost all my LPs about six years ago and did not at that time have any HIP Bach. I had heard many of the L-H cantatas on the annual WKCR BachFest and very much enjoyed what I heard but I "owned" only a mixed assortment of older recordings, all the usual older conductors.

I am today of course no longer the same person or hearer that I was and I had no idea how I would respond to the Werner cantatas. They are wonderful as a whole and this I say based on the ones I have heard. Almost all the singers are very good or super-duper. The instruments are gorgeous on the whole.

The quality of the choral sound varies from cantata to cantata; remember that they are recorded over a number of years.

None of them is less than very enjoyable and very joyous. Some are superb. Only BWV 78 with that alto-soprano duet disappointed me in that Werner does it with sopranos/altos (how many I am not sure; it is not a chorus but not soloists either). I don't like the effect.

I will happily acquire the Vol.1 of the set and wish in the meantime to inform someone that a used copy of Vol. 2 just turned up at Amazon.com. I bought my set used from a Amazon.co.uk seller and they came in three days.

The seller with the used set of Vol. 2 at Amazon.com is a very reliable but very slow shipper. All my items from Caiman have taken a month and, although I paid a bit more (not that much), I rejoice that I got mine in three days.

Sometake advantage of this. I really dig being reunited with Werner and am quite surprised. Yes, one can like old and new. Good is what matters to those who are not doctrinaire in my opinion.

Peter Bright wrote (February 26, 2007):
Richter or Werner? (was: The Fritz Werner Bach Cantatas)

[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] I too have been tempted by these Werner recordings - and have heard very good things about them. However, I don't have any of those recordings at present. I was wondering whether anyone with experience both of Richter and Werner's approaches to the cantatas has a preference. I remain more drawn, in general, to the HIP approach - and probably enjoy Suzuki the most overall (although the Gardiner series is also superb). But I do sometimes find myself yearning for the drama that Richter brings to the proceedings with his larger forces (and of course, the quality of the vocalists - many of whom are among the acknowledged 'greats' of the last century). How does Werner's approach compare with Richter?

Many thanks,

Neil Halliday wrote (February 26, 2007):
Peter Bright wrote:
>How does Werner's approach compare with Richter?<
I think it is said that Richter has the more dramatic approach and Werner the more lyrical, but beyond that I find it very difficult to describe the differences. Werner's soloists - vocal and instrumental - are every bit as fine as Richter's, better in some cases.

One thing I am sure of: I am pleased to have bought Werner's 2-box set, as well as Richter's 5 box set.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 26, 2007):
More on the Fritz Werner Cantatas

Happily they made the wise decision to include in Vol. 2 both the Melchior Hoffmann and the Telemann cantatas, resp. BWV 53 and BWV 160, both in impressive performances. That is a big plus. Another big plus is the very reasonable price of this set, about $4.00 a CD. The booklet also has all that I want, each mvt. tells us what voices and what instruments are playing and for the most part gives many of the solo instrumentalists by name in each cantata. There are first lines for each mvt within each cantata and that is fine with me.

This seems less big band and operatic to me that the Richter items which I recall.

In the same day that I discovered Gillesberger's Johannes, I rid my house forever of Richter's. No, I don't really know which Richter it was but I found him, once I had heard Gillesberger, impossible to bear.

Again I cannot say that my today reaction would be the same.

The Richter cantatas are very overpriced and Erato has wisely issued that Werner set at a very reasonable price. And I really like these soloists.

Uri Golomb wrote (February 26, 2007):
About two years ago, I was asked by Goldberg magazine -- along with all their other reviewers -- to send reviews of selected Bach performances; the aim was to produce a wide-ranging Bach discography, covering the best from all schools of performance, to be included in a special issue devoted entirely to Bach (the articles from that issue -- though not the reviews -- can we seen on http://www.goldbergweb.com/en/magazine/31967.php). Among the recordings I've chosen were the Richter and Werner sets, and I wrote the reviews (esp. the Werner review) thinking that both will be published. Ultimately, Goldberg chose to not to print the Werner review. In response to Peter's question (about the Richter/Werner comparison) I'm now sending both of them -- they pretty much sum up my own impressions of their styles.

I understand, BTW, those who praise the Warner issue for its cheaper price. But I think that, in terms of packaging, Archive had the better idea with Richter, packaging each album in space-saving wallet format. I wish Warner had done the same, presenting the Werner CDs in a more space-saving (and less accident-prone) format. I don't know why they didn't -- they've used the wallet format in many other issues...

Anyway -- here are the reviews.

Bach cantatas - Richter
Various soloists, Münchener Bach-Chor, Solistengemeinschaft der Bach-Woche Ansbach, Münchener Bach-Orchester/ Karl Richter.

Archiv Produktion 439 368-2.

26 CDs

Recorded 1959-1978; released 1993. Also available as five separate sets: Cantatas for Advent and Christmas (4 CDs; 439 369-2), Cantatas for Easter (5 CDs; 439 374-2); Cantatas for Ascension Day, Whitsun and Trinity (6 CDs; 439 380-2); Cantatas for Sundays after Trinity I (6 CDs; 439 387-2); Cantatas for Sundays after Trinity II (5 CDs; 439 394-2).

Richter was one of the most renowned Bach conductors of his generation. Paradoxically, he has been praised as a precise musician, whose clarity and sobriety were a welcome relief from romanticism - and as an intuitive, expressive romanticist himself. This set gives a panoramic view of his vocal Bach recordings (a complementary set of 10 CDs - covering the B minor Mass (BWV 232), Magnificat (BWV 243), Passions and Christmas Oratorio - has recently been deleted), and the variety of styles represented within it might explain these contradictions, at least in part.

Richter employs a large choir (about 100 singers) of primarily amateur singers. Yet he obtains singing of startling clarity, and a wide range of timbres - from sharp, incisive and trumpet-like to hushed and genteel. He often projects a monumental, larger-than-life Bach image through the use of loud dynamics, intense sonority and harsh articulation. At times, this sublime impression is tempered by an almost mechanical rigidity; ebb-and-flow is actively stultified. Yet elsewhere, Richter adopts a wide dynamic range with incredible flexilibility. This seems to reflect, in part, the influence of his strongly-communicative and powerfully expressive soloists - among them Maria Stader, Julia Hamari, Anna Reynolds, Ernst Haefliger, Peter Schreier and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

At their best, Richter's performances are characterised alternately by lyrical refinement, analytic clarity or blazing drama; at their worst, they have an austere, static rigidity. Only rarely, however, do they sound half-hearted: even Richter's most mechanical performances clearly reflect his powerful belief in Bach's music.

Bach cantatas and vocal works - Werner
Various soloists, Heinrich Schütz Choir, Heilbronn; Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra; Württemberg Chamber Orchestra/ Fritz Werner.

Recorded 1957-1973

3 sets of 10 CDs, all released in 2004:
Cantatas, vol. 1 - Warner Classics 2564 61401-2
Cantatas, vol. 2 - Warner Classics 2564 61402-2
The Passions, Christmas Oratorio, B minor Mass (BWV 232), Motets - Warner Classics 2564 61403-2

This set aims to present Fritz Werner's complete recordings of Bach's vocal music (several cantatas appear twice within the set, in different performances). When these recordings were made, Werner was considered an authoritative Bach conductor, and attracted a varied roster of mostly superlative soloists, notably Agnes Giebel and Helmut Krebs. He rarely achieves the incandescent drama of Richter at his best; but he also avoids Richter's rigidity and austerity. His choir is not always as clear or as incisive as Richter's, but it produces a warmer, more consistently attractive sonority.

Like most of his contemporaries, Werner seems unaware of the dance-like element that pervades Bach's church music; he also downplays many instances of dialogue and conflict, creating an underwhelming impression of Bach's dramatic music. Several of the celebratory choruses, however, are brought out with great gusto and sense of occasion.

Werner is at his best in Bach's lyrical, contemplative music. Throughout the Motets, and in many individual movements in the cantatas and Passions, Werner and his musicians shape their lines with sensitive flexibility. The articulation is mostly legato or gently-detached, the dynamic range relatively narrow; yet there is much subtle attention to details, and the music flows with seeming inevitability and commendable clarity.

Much of tmusic-making here, then, is compellingly beautiful. Ultimately, I prefer the best period-instrument performances; but Werner's best performances remain richly rewarding in their warmth, lyricism and refinement.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 26, 2007):
Uri Golomb wrote:
< Much of the music-making here, then, is compellingly beautiful. Ultimately, I prefer the best period-instrument performances; but Werner's best performances remain richly rewarding in their warmth, lyricism and refinement. >
How can I best put this? It is difficult. Professional or highly knowledgeable reviewers (and I trust we have all read a number of such reviews) put things in terms that cannot by necessity (it is a limit of language itself to describe the musical experience, as I perceive it) adequately represent what the hearer will experience. Hearing and responding are a different set of matters that constitute a different reality from writing in words about those perceptions.

Goodness, this is getting convoluted and at my best I rarely write clear prose.

Finally we have an especial problem: What are the "the best period-instrument" performances. One I would list is that Actus Tragicus recording by Ricercar (their 2nd recording of the work; I have not heard their first recording thereof).

One cannot for instance declare all the L-H performances the best and I am sure that there are many therein where the counter-tenor really annoys me even when he is a fine performer. Now of course the Ricercar recording also has a counter-tenor but it is an ethereal reading. I personally have never found much special in many period-instrument recordings which I have. I only have a limited number of the Herreweghe recordings of the cantatas and have never been overwhelmed.

I do for better or worse listen more to the Passions and neither the 2nd Herreweghe (I only have the first on cassette) nor the third Harnoncourt, both greatly praised, has ever done magic for me.

Also I often find comparative listening destructive.

Many years ago a friend sent me the Teldec CD entitled "An Introduction to the Complete Bach Edition Bach 2000". I have often listened to it with great pleasure as it gives small self-contained portions of most everything. I always totally enjoyed the Harnoncourt/Lipovsek/Coin "Es ist vollbracht". Then very recently I did a lot of comparative listening of that aria, mostly the Gillesberger CD and the Harnoncourt video, each with a boy, and as I recall, the Gardiner with Chance, and the HRM from Preinfalk's abridged reading. I suddenly for the very first time found Lipovsek very wanting and very unexpressive. I do not have the complete Harnoncourt with Lipovsek (never wanted it).

When relistening in the context of so many others, suddenly I found myself with all my positive attention on Coin and not on the singer. I do not envy those who have to do much comparative listening of anything. I often produces on the listener a reality different from listening to the performance qua performance. Now I shall do my best proofing but my best typing is always problematic. Ok, I've corrected all my things like "ever" for "even" and "with" for "will", common problems that always crop up in my typing. Nihil obstat,

Uri Golomb wrote (February 26, 2007):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman]
Yoel wrote (in response to my review):
*************************
It is difficult. Professional or highly knowledgeable reviewers (and I trust we have all read a number of such reviews) put things in terms that cannot by necessity (it is a limit of language itself to describe the musical experience, as I perceive it) adequately represent what the hearer will experience. Hearing and responding are a different set of matters that constitute a different reality from writing in words about those perceptions.
*************************
I'll certainly concede that point. A further complicating factor is the fact that, when writing those reviews, I had to comply with a severe word limit -- 250 words or less per review. It is difficult enough to write about a single CD in such length; it is, of course, much more difficulty to sum up vast sets like the Werner and Richter albums in such brevity. I did my best, but I suppose the result still left a slightly compressed feel.

*************************
Finally we have an especial problem: What are the "the best period-instrument" performances.
*************************
Obviously, not everyone will answer this in the same way. I love the recordings of Suzuki, GArdiner (esp. the new pilgrimage issues), Koopman in the brighter, extrovert, major-key works (I feel he often misses something in the mroe elegiac or lyrical works -- though he does have his successes there as well). I do like a lot of Herreweghe's recordings as well, and the few cantatas that Rifkin recorded (pity he didn't do more). I do enjoy many moments in the Harnoncourt-Leonhardt series, too, though I don't find it as consistently satisfying as several later series.

Yoel mentioned not liking two of my favourite SMP recordings (2nd Herreweghe, 3rd Harnoncourt). I found both of them revelatory and highly moving, and indeed they were among the three recordings I recommended in my Goldberg article on the work (the third being Suzuki); but ultimately, listeners who were not convinced by the recordings themselves are unlikely to be swayed by anything a reviewer will say about them... Actually, even though I prefer these recordings to (say) Richter, Klemperer, Jochum -- or for that matter (and switching to something completely different) Herreweghe 1, Harnoncourt 1 and Leonhardt -- I have no difficulty in understanding why some listeners might have exactly the opposite preference. (I am mystified, however, by the fact that Karajan's Bach recordings, which I consider rather dreadful, seem to have some admirers out there....)

*************************
I do not envy those who have to do much comparative listening of anything.
*************************
As someone who engages in a lot of comparative listening -- I did a PhD on recordings of the B-minor Mass (BWV 232) (http://snipurl.com/ugphd_abs), which involved listening to literally dozens of recordings -- I can see your point: the experience can be wearying sometimes. On the other hand, I also find that it has its advantages (otherwise I wouldn't have picked that dissertation topic): I find that listening to different performances can increase one's appreciation and enjoyment of some of them -- and can certainly enhance one's appreciation of the MUSIC, as you hear it illuminated from different and surprising angles.

Peter Bright wrote (February 26, 2007):
[To Uri Golomb] Thanks to all for their generous comments about the Werner vs Richter question. I think I will pick and choose some of the Werner recordings (if they are, indeed, available separately). I tend to side with Uri on the SMP, the third Harnoncourt being probably my favourite (although I must admit that the (very) few occasions I can spare the time (!) and effort (!) to listen to Klemperer, I easily get swept up in the majesty of it all). I was rather disappointed with Suzuki, and feel that if he had shelved it until a bit later (like until around now, for instance) he could have brought a bit more to it in terms of drama and gravitas in places.

On the subject of the B Minor Mass (BWV 232), Nicholas Anderson will be reviewing recent recordings of that work on Saturday 3rd March (around 10.45 UK time). This will include CDs from Freider Bernius, SACDs from Helmut Rilling and a DVD from John Nelson.

Harry W. Crosby wrote (February 27, 2007):
Uri Golomb wrote:
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (in response to my review):
*************************
. . . highly knowledgeable reviewers put things in terms that cannot adequately represent what the hearer will experience (it is a limit of language itself to describe musical experiences). Hearing and responding are a different set of matters that constitute a different reality from writing in words about those perceptions.
*************************
I do not envy those who have to do much comparative listening of anything.
*************************
And Uri Golomb replied:
As someone who engages in a lot of comparative listening -- I did a PhD on recordings of the B-minor Mass (BWV 232), which involved listening to literally dozens of recordings -- I can see your point: the experience can be wearying sometimes. On the other hand, I also find that it has its advantages (otherwise I wouldn't have picked that dissertation topic): I find that listening to different performances can increase one's appreciation and enjoyment of some of them -- and can certainly enhance one's appreciation of the MUSIC, as you hear it illuminated from different and surprising angles.
*****************************
So, here I want here to thank both Yoel and Uri for what I believe are excellent expressions of important concepts to understand and cope with, A) attempting to create verbal representations of our musical experiences, and B) the, for me, very positive rewards of comparative listening. I firmly believe that when we achieve enough insight to analyze and rationalize our preferences, we learn important things about ourselves. Plus, those insights have helped me to be less critical and more understanding of the preferences of others.

Gentlemen, I thank you!

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 27, 2007):
BWV 3 [was: Richter or Werner?]

Uri Golomb wrote:
< [...] A further complicating factor is the fact that, when writing those reviews, I had to comply with a severe word limit -- 250 words or less per review. It is difficult enough to write about a single CD in such length; it is, of course, much more difficult to sum up vast sets like the Werner and Richter albums in such brevity. >
Worth the effort. Much more helpful to the general music buying public than reviews which might devote 250 words to a wrong note or intonation lapse (just as an example of the other extreme).

*************************
< [YA] Finally we have an especial problem: What are the "the best period-instrument" performances. >
*************************
< Obviously, not everyone will answer this in the same way. I love the recordings of Suzuki, Gardiner (esp. the new pilgrimage issues) >
I did not free the time to post any comments on Gardiner's version of BWV 3 two weeks back, but you have encouraged me to return to it, if only for 250 words or so. The pilgrimage concept contributes to my enjoyment of the Gardiner series, as does the live recording of a cohesive performance. It is impossible to say that I could hear this if I did not know it already, but I do think at least a sense of continuity would come across intuitively.

*************************
< [YA] I do not envy those who have to do much comparative listening of anything. >
*************************
< [...] I find that listening to different performances can increase one's appreciation and enjoyment of some of them -- and can certainly enhance one's appreciation of the MUSIC, as you hear it illuminated from different and surprising angles. >
I wonder if Yoel wasn't referring to comparative listening to individual movements, thus losing that continuity of a single performance? In any case, I agree with your point about having the music illuminated from different angles. In this particular case (BWV 3) I find the Gardiner my single favorite performance overall. Especially in the S/A duet, Mvt. 5, it is made more enjoyable by also having heard the Harnoncourt and Leusink versions, both also excellent in their own ways, as already noted.

I would enjoy any these performances individually. I enjoy them all the more so for having the opportunity of comparison. The Gardiner is recommended without qualification; the attractive packaging and informative commentary are a plus as well.

John Pike wrote (February 27, 2007):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] I agree with much of what Yoel has said.

I always enjoyed Richter's 1958 recording of the SMP, but did not enjoy Werner's recordings of the SMP, SJP etc at all. Nevertheless, in view of Uri's comments, I am now tempted to try his cantatas.

Neil Halliday wrote (February 27, 2007):
John Pike wrote:
> I always enjoyed Richter's 1958 recording of the SMP, but did not enjoy Werner's recordings of the SMP, SJP etc at all. Nevertheless, in view of Uri's comments, I am now tempted to try his cantatas.<
John, there are some wonderful individual movements and sounds that alone make the purchase worthwhile; for example, the high impact trumpet playing, solo and ensemble, that has the typical 60's brilliance, from artists such as Maurice Andre.

John Pike wrote (February 27, 2007):
[To Uri Golomb] I agree with virtually all these comments, and my musical tastes coincide pretty well with those of Uri. Having said that, I don't know Suzuki's recording of the SMP, but I must confess to liking Richter's 1958 recording, probably because it is the one I was brought up on.

I have tried comparative listening for this list before now, but I never enjoyed it. I think in future i will just concentrate on one recording at a time.

Harry W. Crosby wrote (February 27, 2007):
Re: Richter or Werner? (was: The Fritz Werner Bach Cantatas)
Neil Halliday, speaking of the Werner and Richter recordings:
". . . there are some wonderful individual movements and sounds that alone make the purchase worthwhile; for example, the high impact trumpet playing, solo and ensemble, that has the typical 60's brilliance, from artists such as Maurice Andre."
And, Neil, I must add to that the trumpet majesty displayed by Walter Gleissle in the opening chorus of Werner's BWV 67. I have never heard anyone since approach his magic.

Peter Bright wrote (February 27, 2007):
John Pike wrote:
< well with those of Uri. Having said that, I don't know Suzuki's recording of the SMP, but I must confess to liking Richter's 1958 recording, probably because it is the one I was brought up on. >
I agree withyou on the Richter SMP - I still think that Fischer-Dieskau's performance of Mache dich, mein Herze, rein is the most impressive on record - although Henschel comes mighty close on the most recent of the Harnoncourt versions...

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 28, 2007):
Werner BWV 140 X2

It's amazing. I am finishing the 10th CD and have just listened to the first recording of Wachet auf, the 1959. The other day I was unhappy with the 1970. It's very simple. While they both three fine soloists, in the later recording the soprano disappears almost in the first duet and is drowned by the violin although she is also disappointing in the second duet with oboe as well. In the 1959 the soprano totally holds her own with violin and is a perfect interlocutor with the bass in these soul/ Jesus duologues. I am so happy with this Werner set (I notice that someone grabbed the used copy offered by Caiman) that I found a really cheap copy NEW of the set of Passions, Mass (BWV 232), Weihnachts-Oratorium, and motets and a few other things that constitute a third box from a UK seller and couldn't resist it. Yes, I know, I need more MPs and JPs like a hole in the head.

Werner with his chosen soloists is a sadly forgotten benefactor of Bach and of us all who are addicted to this music. Past my bedtime and 1.5 more cantatas to go.

John Pike wrote (February 28, 2007):
[To Peter Bright] Absolutely, Peter! That wonderful aria in particular. I nearly burnt out side 8 of my father's LP listening to that particular aria when I was about 16.

John Pike wrote (February 28, 2007):
[To Uri Golomb] I forgot to say that the first recording I bought of the MBM was Karajan's. That was before I got to look at recommendations before purchase. I agree "rather dreadful" comes to mind.

 

Werner vs. Gardiner JP

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 8, 2007):
Recently there was a thread here entitled Werner or Richter. I no longer have any Richter and thus have no current opinion. In the last few days I listened to both the Gardiner and the Werner JPs. No contest for me.
A vocal work requires four entities: orchestra, conductor, soloists, and chorus. In 's JP the two aria tenors are simply soporific. The aria bass is boring. His two aria sopranos are nice and I do like Chance in the two alto arias. His Jesus and evangelist passed me by.

In Werner's the one (evangelist and arias) tenor is first rate although perhaps an acquired taste which it has taken me many years to acquire. The bass arias are exciting. The soprano F. Sailer is excellent, particularly in the first soprano aria. Now we come to alto Höffgen: in the first alto aria I find her too heavy of voice and not pleasant for my ears. However when we come to "Es ist vollbracht", she and the conductor's pacing were overwhelming. I really fall apart on this one. I don't really like her voice qua voice (some will understand. I love certain voices).

The way "Es ist vollbracht" was handled was stunning. OK obviously the sound of the chorus is not impressive owing, I might assume, to the time of the recording.

I don't say much about the individual instruments as I have no great sensitivity in that area.

I will say that, considering my mixed emotions every time I inflict this work on myself, the beauty of the work in a fine performance says a lot and to me this one worked and Gardiner's did not.

I listened to Werner's MP last night but got involved in serious webstuff and I am not from the multitasking generation and thus the music sort of became background for a while. However his use of a boy choir in addition to his Heinrich Schütz choir in the MP made a very nice sound.

I am not stating that modern performances are uninteresting or that old ones are more interesting. That would be absurd, it seems to me. All the more so since Gillesberger remains my favorite JP. But that is a HIP old-modern performance. I can at times hear only the beauty of the music and at other times....

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 8, 2007):
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/Apr05/Bach_Werner_2564614032.htm

searching the web for any information of Renate Günther, the alto in the MP and the h-Moll-Messe in this boxed set which also includes two more cantatas, another BWV 147 and the moteto-cantata118, and the six standard motets, I failed to find anything on her; however I found this very good review of the set.

Stephen Benson wrote (March 8, 2007):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< I found this very good review of the set. >
It's always a treat to encounter a passage where a writer succinctly expresses a sentiment that accurately crystallizes one's own hitherto rather vague feelings about a subject. An adherent of the following approach, I have never been able to reduce it to such a pithy distillation, one that resonates so solidly with my own experience. Under the I-wish-I-had-said-that category, John Quinn, in the Werner review provided by Yoel, defines what I consider to be an eminently sensible and healthy approach to interpretative listening practice: "I love to hear Bach's music performed on period instruments but the finest interpreters of the previous generation, of which Fritz Werner is undoubtedly one of the foremost, have much to teach us about these masterpieces and we ignore recordings such as these at our peril."

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 9, 2007):
Stephen Benson wrote:
< John Quinn, in the Werner review ... defines what I consider to be an eminently sensible and healthy approach to interpretative listening practice: "I love to hear Bach's music performed on period instruments but the finest interpreters of the previous generation, of which Fritz Werner is undoubtedly one of the foremost, have much to teach us about these masterpieces and we ignore recordings such as these at our peril." >
I too thought is was a really wonderful piece of writing and that his perspective was spot on. While it can also be a simple commonplace to suggest that persons need to listen to both current and older performances, to me the operative word or two is "finest interpreters". When an interpreter is really fine as Werner is to my ears, then the HIPNESS or lack thereof is somewhat a secondary matter.The finest interpreters indeed. And of course we shall each have our own definitions of that phrase.

To me not all current performers are sensitive and inspired. Many old performances are simply historical. I do really like JEG's Schumann symphonies but I guess many of us would want to listen to selected less HIP ones too. In this particular case (Schumann) I will stick with JEG's.

In the case of the Beethoven symphonies there is a variety of HIP performances. But I really am pleased with John Quinn's review.

Yoël arising from listening to Charpentier's Méditations pour le carême.

 

BCW: Werner and Leusink Bach Cantata Cycles

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 14, 2012):
In my continuing efforts to improve the data presented on the BCW, I revise the discographies of the recorded Bach Cantata Cycles. I have already finished the major series by John Eliot Gardiner from his Bach Cantata Pilgrimage (Soli Deo Gloria), Ton Koopman/Amsterdam Baroque Choir & Orchestra (Erato & Antoine Marchand/Challenge Classics), Masaaki Suzuki/Bach Collegium Japan (BIS), and some smaller scale enterprises by Johannes Somary/Amor Artis Chorale (various labels), Felix Prohaska/various ensembles (Vanguard/Bach Guild), Purcell Quartet (Chandos), Eric J. Milnes/Montreal Baroque (ATMA Classique), Daniel Taylor/Theatre of Early Music (ATMA Classique), Bernard Labadie/Les Violons du Roy (Dorian), Christophe Coin/Ensemble Baroque de Limoges, Craig Smith/Emmanuel Music (Koch), Jeffrey Thomas/American Bach Soloists, Sigiswald Kuijken/La Petit Bande (Accent). .

The revision includes full recording details: exact recording dates & locations, all the published issues (both LP's & CD's), TT of each work and of the album, big front & back cover photos and liner notes where possible.

I have just finished two other major cycles: Fritz Werner and his forces on Erato/Musical Heritage Society (1957-1973) and Pieter Jan Leusink/Holland Boys Choir & Netherlands Bach Collegium on Brilliant Classics (1999-2000).

See:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Werner.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Leusink.htm
Linked from:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/index.htm
and all the relevant cantata pages on the BCW.

 

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Last update: żMarch 12, 2012 ż15:20:00