Recordings/Discussions
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Additional Information

Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127

Chorales BWV 250-438

Conducted by Nicol Matt

Recordings

See: Nicole Matt & NOCC - Recordings

Brilliant Chorales

Michael Grover wrote (December 31, 2001):
For Christmas, along with five Rilling cantata CDs, I received Brilliant Classics' 4 disc set of the 4-part chorales. These wonderful little gems are performed by the Nordic Chamber Choir, conducted by Nicol Matt, with instrumental accompaniment by soloists of the Freiburger Barockorchester.

First, the works themselves: I daresay most of us are familiar with chorales from the cantatas and the other great vocal works. This set includes many of them directly from those works, including eight from the St. Matthew Passion and eleven from the St. John Passion. Additionally, many dozens of the chorales from BWV 253-438 are represented as well.

The chorales are beautiful, nearly perfect, examples of vocal harmony and polyphony. The way Bach managed to take these simple Lutheran hymn tunes and turn them into miniature works of art is outstanding. The only complaint I have about them is that they are simply too short! Most of the time, as soon as I was really "getting into" and enjoying a particular tune, it was over! It would be nice to hear these performed with all verses in succession, rather than just one or two verses, although I suppose that would be a bit much for some people. You'd really have to like hymns to listen to several of those in a row...

As for the performances, I have (almost) nothing but praise. The Nordic Chamber Choir sounds to me to be a choir with HIP sensibilities but still making a few concessions to "modernity" such as having female altos. From their website, it looks like they are about five voices to a part. Their singing has great clarity, and the unnamed recording venue has very little reverberation or echo. In contrast, when I listen to some of the same chorales performed by Rilling's choirs, they sound hopelessly muddled and echo-y. And I have a great regard for Rilling's choirs! The NCC sounds crystal clear in comparison.

The four sections blend very well together -- almost TOO well, in fact. The only criticism I have may be directed at the recording engineer. The altos are practically inaudible most of the time (I mentioned female altos earlier, but that knowledge came from looking at the website, not by being able to hear them!) Also, the basses often blend right into the organ and continuo, making them hard to hear as well. Also, (especially when listening with headphones) there is a very strong stereo seperation with the women on the left side and the men on the right. It does give a feeling of "being there" but I prefer the aspect of most other choirs on disc I've heard, where the sections all seem mixed together. It depends on your preference. The sopranos and tenors are almost always easy to hear, and thankfully, do not overwhelm the proceedings. The sopranos sing with great sensitivity and, well, peace, since these are indeed peaceful works. No opera divas here! Very little vibrato from the whole bunch.

The instrumentalists do a perfect job in my opinion - they are just loud enough without being TOO loud, if you know what I mean. The strings (gamba, violone and baroque cello) are played with great richness and warmth. The organ is pleasant enough and at times takes a small concertante role with cheery results.

I found it rather difficult to locate individual chorales as they are scattered over the four discs, so I went to the trouble of compiling them all into a MS Works spreadsheet (.wks extension) by disc number, track number, BWV number, and movement number. I would be happy to email it to anyone who asks privately. (Of course, knowing Aryeh, he's probably already done the same thing and I just didn't bother to search his pages before putting in the work.) :-)

I do have two unresolved questions, however.
(1) The labeling for track 16 on the 2nd disc states that it is from BWV 205 and is the Breitkopf-Edition chorale #63. The text is as follows:
"Des heil'gen Geistes reiche Gnad'
die Herzen der Apostel hat
erfuellt mit seiner Guetigkeit,
geschenkt der Sprachen Unterscheid."

This text is not to be found in BWV 205, and a search of Walter Bischof's site of chorale texts yielded nothing with that opening line. Anyone know what work that chorale is REALLY from?

(2) A similar problem occurs with track 13 on the 3rd disc. The booklet states that it is from BWV 148 and is the Breitkopf-Edition chorale #29. It gives the hymn tune name of "Auf meinen lieben Gott"
and the text being sung is:
"Fuehr' auch mein Herz und Sinn
durch meinen Geist dahin,
dass ich moeg' alles meiden,
was mich und dich kann scheiden,
und ich an deinem Leibe
ein Gliedmass ewig bleibe."

Any hints for this one? It could possibly be movement 6 from BWV 163, but I have no way of testing this possibility since I do not own a recording or a score of 163.

Well, in summary, this set gets a rousing recommendation from me. Thanks to Brilliant Classics, this is another dirt-cheap way to get some absolutely wonderful music from Bach.

NCC's website: http://nocc.de/

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 31, 2001):
Michael Grover asked:
< I do have two unresolved questions, however.
(1) The labeling for track 16 on the 2nd disc states that it is from BWV 205 and is the Breitkopf-Edition chorale #63. The text is as follows:

"Des heil'gen Geistes reiche Gnad'
die Herzen der Apostel hat
erfuellt mit seiner Guetigkeit,
geschenkt der Sprachen Unterscheid."

This text is not to be found in BWV 205, and a search of Walter Bischof's site of chorale texts yielded nothing with that opening line. Anyone know what work that chorale is REALLY from? >
"[Boyd] Oxford Composer Companions: J.S.Bach" has a list of chorale harmonizations on pp. 554 ff. and on p. 555 you will find it listed as a separate chorale not derived from a larger work: BWV 295. The person preparing your booklet probably confused the Breitkopf number 207 with a cantata number.

< (2) A similar problem occurs with track 13 on the 3rd disc. The booklet states that it is from BWV 148 and is the Breitkopf-Edition chorale #29. It gives the hymn tune name of "Auf meinen lieben Gott" and the text being sung is:

"Fuehr' auch mein Herz und Sinn
durch meinen Geist dahin,
dass ich moeg' alles meiden,
was mich und dich kann scheiden,
und ich an deinem Leibe
ein Gliedmass ewig bleibe."

Any hints for this one? It could possibly be movement 6 from BWV 163, but I have no way of testing this possibility since I do not own a recording or a score of 163. >
In the Boyd book you will also find a list of Text Incipits pp. 584 ff. There you will see confirmation that it comes from BWV 163 mvt. 6. Listed right above this version, there is a different harmonization used in BWV 5 mvt. 7.

As I explained recently, the Boyd lists are extremely helpful at times; however, there are some definite limitations as well. In your case, you were lucky to have two 'hits' that could answer your questions.

Joost wrote (December 31, 2002):
Michael asked:
< (2) A similar problem occurs with track 13 on the 3rd disc. The booklet states that it is from BWV 148 and is the Breitkopf-Edition chorale #29. It gives the hymn tune name of "Auf meinen lieben Gott" and the text being sung is:
"Fuehr' auch mein Herz und Sinn
durch meinen Geist dahin,
dass ich moeg' alles meiden,
was mich und dich kann scheiden,
>und ich an deinem Leibe
ein Gliedmass ewig bleibe."


Any hints for this one? It could possibly be movement 6 from BWV 163, but I have no way of testing this possibility since I do not own a recording or a score of 163. >
Indeed it is the sixth movement from BWV 163.

Rianto Pardede wrote (January 6, 2002):
[To Michael Grover] Thanks for the review !

I love choir music. It always moves me more than single voice vocal performance.

Until I read the review, I always thought that Bach's choral can only be found scattered inside his cantatas recordings. Never thought that there is/are recordings that contain choral movements specifically/exclusively.

Tried Amazon.com. Searches for "choral ", but it yields mB's organ chorales. Nothing for Nordic Chamber Orchestra. Where can I find this recording on-line ?

I'd really love to hear more reviews on choir music, be it by Bach or others.

p.s. : my English may be confusing. My apologise in advance.

John Welch wrote (January 7, 2002):
Rianto Pardede was asking where he could get the Brilliant Classics 4 CD set of Chorales. I have just bought them from www.cdselections.com for £7.99.

I have also bought for Christmas the Richter version on Archiv of the Christmas Oratorio, which I think is absolutely wonderful.

My favorite movement is the first sung by the choir in the beginning of the 5th Part, it is wonderful how all the voices blend together, it is such a joyful piece. Also I love the 4 part Trio No.51 on the 3rd CD.

I must also tell you that I have bought 70 CD`s in 2001 most of them being the Brilliant Classics Cantatas, Organ and Keyboard works, all recomended by BRML

Happy New Year to you All

Michael Grover wrote (January 7, 2002):
Comments inserted.

< Rianto Pardede wrote: Thanks for the review ! >
You're welcome. :)

< I love choir music. It always moves me more than single voice vocal performance. Until I read the review, I always thought that Bach's choral can only be found scattered inside his cantatas recordings. Never thought that there is/are recordings that contain choral movements specifically/exclusively. >
Generally, I agree. The arias, recitatives, etc. in the vocal works are beautiful and I enjoy hearing them, but it is the choruses and chorales that "move" me, as you put it.

< Tried Amazon.com. Searches for " choral ", but it yields mostly Bach's organ chorales. Nothing for Nordic Chamber Orchestra. Where can I find this recording on-line ? >
There are two good places that I know of: (USA) Berkshire Record Outlet http://www.broinc.com/ $7.96 for the 4-disc box.
(Germany) Zweitausendeins http://www.zweitausendeins.de/ 7.13 Euros or 13.95 DM for the box.

< I'd really love to hear more reviews on choir music, be it by Bach or others. >
Try Aryeh's Bach Cantatas site http://www.bach-cantatas.com/ for extensive discussions of many of the cantatas, as well as the other vocal works (click on the "Bach's Great Vocal Works" link in the top left for non-cantata discussions.)

< p.s. : my English may be confusing. My apologise in advance. >
Your English is excellent.

Michael Grover wrote (January 7, 2002):
< Tried Amazon.com. Searches for " choral ", but it yields mostly Bach's organ chorales. Nothing for Nordic Chamber Orchestra. Where can I find this recording on-line ? >
I just discovered you can also order them directly from the Nordic Chamber Choir, if you prefer. http://nocc.de/ They sell the box of chorales for 8 Euro. Click on "Aufnahmen" to see all their CDs.

Rianto Pardede wrote (January 28, 2002):
Now that I have in my possession this chorales collection from Broinc.com, I want to thank everybody who gave me the lead to this particular recording.

This recording is certainly a treasure. Perhaps heavenly music sounds much the same, with the angels singing.

My knowledge of the many recordings of JS Bach's many compositions is very limited, it is my great fortune that Michael Grover brought up this title and its review to the List.

Chorale discs in the newest Brilliant Classics box

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 21, 2006):
In the new Brilliant Classics box, the 155-disc set with the discs all in cardboard envelopes, discs V27-V32 take care of the chorales. Those are all performed by Nicol Matt's ensemble and recorded in 1999.

But in the previous Brilliant set, the one that came with cardboard slipcases around individually jewel-boxed discs, the set of chorales comprised only four discs: these same Matt recordings, but only corresponding with the discs V29-V32 of the above. Discs 27 and 28 weren't included, and therefore 87 chorales were lacking from that jewel-boxed set. Most of those started with the letter W (disc 27) or letters J through S (disc 28).

Anybody happen to know why the older edition omitted two of the six discs, the way those got packaged?

Uri Golomb wrote (September 21, 2006):
[To Bradley Lehman] I think the chorales in the old Brilliant Edition were split -- four CDS in one volume (chorales only), and two-and-a-half CDs in another volume, which also had the Magnificat, Christmas Oratorio and other works. I have that volume (the one with chorales and other works). All the choraels were done by Nicol Matt, as in the new edition. I don't know why they split up teh chorales like that; but it seems, from your description, that the new arrangements is more sensible

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 22, 2006):
[To Uri Golomb]
You're right; and I missed noticing that another batch of 17 chorales is tagged onto the end of V-26, the Magnificat disc. It's not listed on the box index that the chorales really start there on disc 26 instead of disc 27.

A total of six and a half discs, devoted to the chorales.

------

Anybody happen to know what bizarre edition Leon Berben was playing from, for the Well-Tempered Clavier? Or is it just handfuls of questionable notes (sounding like a misreading of scores, especially in the area of accidentals missing) that the producer didn't catch for a retake? His performances here sound confident and fluent, and not like ornamentation or improvised details either, or like mere finger slips; but just like a case of learning the music too quickly and incompletely, sight-reading errors or producer's inattention.... Many of them are interesting interpretations, but I find myself on edge waiting for the next wrong notes to come up, in so many of them.

He sounds like a player I'd enjoy meeting, and hearing in concert...but I'd hope that the music is thoroughly learned before committing it to recording or concert. :) The beginning of the F# minor fugue, book 1, is one obvious place where it wasn't: there's are two or three extra beats inserted into the first appearance of the subject, during its final trill, with a huge rubato that doesn't sound deliberately planned. Then despite that slow and odd start, he burns through that whole fugue in 1'54", while my rendition takes 3'34" and Watchorn's is even more ruminative at 4'14". 3'49" for Glenn Gould.... At the least, Berben's rendition of this fugue is a shock to my neural system.

I'm no stranger to playing or enjoying alternate readings of the music; my own disc of WTC excerpts has one in the B major, and I documented in the booklet that I was using the alternate "alpha" reading that the NBA printed separately.... It just seems to me that the Brilliant set should tell us somewhere if the musicians are using an especially off-the-beaten-path version of the score.

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 22, 2006):
[To Bradley Lehman & Uri Golomb] See complete list of the Chorales recorded by Matt at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Matt.htm

Chorales BWV 250-438
Recordings | General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Chorales in Bach Cantatas: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Hidden Chorale Melody Allusions | Passion Chorale
Individual Recordings:
Hilliard - Morimur | Chorales - Matt | Chorales - Rilling | Preludi ai Corali - Quartetto Italiani di Viola Da Gamba
References:
Chorales BWV 250-300 | Chorales BWV 301-350 | Chorales BWV 351-400 | Chorales BWV 401-438
Texts & English Translations of Chorales:
Sorted by Title
Chorale Melodies:
Sorted by Title | 371 4-Part Chorales sorted by Breitkopf Number | Explanation
MIDI files of the Chorales:
Cantatas BWV 1-197 | Other Vocal Works BWV 225-248 | Chorales BWV 250-438
Articles:
The Origin of the Texts of the Chorales [Schweitzer] | The Origin of the Melodies of the Chorales [Schweitzer] | The Chorale in the Church Service [Schweitzer] | Choral / Chorale [Terry] | The History of the Breitkopf Collection of J. S. Bach’s Four-Part Chorales [Braatz]
Hymnals used by Bach | Abbreviations used for the Chorales | Links to other Sites about the Chorales

Nicol Matt: Short Biography | Nordic Chamber Choir | Recordings | General Discussions | Chorales - Matt

Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127

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Last update: ıSeptember 23, 2006 ı19:40:11