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Cantatas: BWV 97-99, BWV 91-93.
Helen Donath, Arleen Auger, soloists, Gachinger Kantorei Stuttgart, Bach Collegium Stuttgart Helmuth Rilling.
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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Gerald Fenech


Gerald Fenech

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