BACH: Cantatas: BWV 97-99, BWV 91-93.
Helen Donath, Arleen Auger,
soloists, Gachinger Kantorei Stuttgart, Bach Collegium Stuttgart Helmuth
Hanssler Classics BachAkademie
Vols 31 & 32 92.031 (BWV 97-99) 92.029 (BWV
91-93) two discs oas 61m and 69m ADD.
Hanssler's Bach edition continues apace with several recordings refreshed
and refurbished from Rilling's earlier days. There are a few singers who
are no longer with us today but the edition is chiefly memorable for Arleen
Auger's splendidly evocative and unforgettable singing. Volume 31 has two
beautiful works in which Auger, Donath and Kraus are in fine fettle but
occasionally the orchestra is a little bit too old-fashioned for serious
enjoyment. However Rilling's style can be quite provocative as he sets very
fast tempi for the chorales and the arias in which his singers are hard pressed
to match such speed. This adds to the excitement of the works as discoveries.
'All Glory to Thee Jesus Christ' is a short work but one which contains much
valuable music as is the similar 'The Man who Leaves to God all Power'. The
masterpiece in Volume 29 must be 'I have to God's own Heart and Mind', a
half hour of truly memorable singing and instrumental writing. Here I enjoyed
Ann Murray's contributions and was also greatly charmed by the understanding
voice of Arleen Auger. Volume 31 also includes three cantatas, the best of
which is 'In All my Undertakings' where Auger is once again quite resplendent.
'What God Doth, That is Rightly Done' is significantly shorter than its
predecessor but there is no lack of charm and musical inspiration. A greater
degree of that is to be found in its successor bearing the same name but
slightly longer at 16 minutes. I cannot really go into every individual
movement's merits in the context of such a huge edition but I will say that,
at least to me, interpretations and conducting are generally scholarly although
some recordings go back almost a quarter century and more. Hanssler include
detailed texts and translations, numerous cueing points and some copious
notes that will aid the pilgrim immensely. There is no denying the tireless
work and authority that Helmuth Rilling and his Stuttgart forces bring to
this sublime music. However on a personal note, Masaaki Suzuki's groundbreaking
versions on BIS still continue to be my first choice in this repertoire.
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