Masaaki Suzuki continues his complete set of Bachís
sacred cantatas with this volume 16, featuring two cantatas from Bachís
early years in Liepzig. Suzukiís restrained forces and excellent soloists
once again put Bach into a very welcome perspective, as compared to
other recordings of the cantatas.
Suzukiís small chorus (twelve singers in BWV 194 and
sixteen in BWV 119) gives this music a delicate sound, with a fine texture
and clear voicings. His light orchestral touch lets the singers take
centre stage, and keep the music reserved, when necessary, but can express
a great deal of joy as well.
Cantata 194 is an occasional work, written for the
"inauguration of the organ in Störmthal", as Bach noted
on his score. Actually, this inauguration was of the entire church -
which explains why there is no solo organ part in the cantata. The text
of the cantata clearly talks of the church, and is a poetic dedication
of this church to God. It is scored for three oboes, strings and continuo,
with soprano, tenor and bass soloists. This is a festive work, and a
very long one - at more than 38 minutes on this recording, this is among
Bachís longest cantatas.
Baritone Jochen Kupfer sings the bass part in this
cantata, and is quite good. This is his first appearance in the series.
His first aria, Was des Höchsten Glans erfüllt is one of those
Bach arias that flows like a river, the oboes carrying along the singer
as they accompany him. Soprano Yukari Nonoshita is a bit uneven in her
first aria Hulf, Gott, dass es uns gelingt. She wavers between a correct
volume and being slightly overwhelmed by the orchestra. She has one
of those light soprano voices, somewhat airy, but at times moves into
a richer register. She has the most important role in this work - her
two arias, at over six and nine minutes respectively (the latter a duet
with bass) - are the longest parts of this cantata.
Cantata 119 is another occasional work, written for
the Leipzig council election of 1723. This cantata features trombones,
timpani, flutes and oboes, and opens with a French-style overture which
expresses its festive, almost regal nature. This overture, which may
have been borrowed from a lost work, becomes a choral movement, after
its introductory section, showing Bachís ability to adapt his music
to many situations. The overall tone of this work is grandiose, and
the soloists rise to the occasion. But the "meat" of this
cantata are the two long choral sections, the first, the opening movement,
just over five minutes, and the second over six minutes. The choir is
rich and dense, even though there are only 16 singers, and the balance
between the choir and orchestra is exemplary.
Masaaki Suzuki continues with his extremely fine recordings
of Bachís cantatas, giving yet another excellent volume with a fine
balance between musicians and singers. The two cantatas on this disc
are among the best in Bachís oeuvre, and they here receive recordings
(One final comment - Bis includes excellent, thorough
notes with all the recordings in this series, and most of their releases.
However, the type size for these notes is quite small, making them difficult
to read for many people. The text is much smaller for the Bach Cantata
recordings than other Bis discs, such as the CPE Bach series.)