> BACH cantatas Vol 16 Suzuki BISCD1111 []: Classical Reviews- April2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Cantatas vol. 16

Cantata No.194, "Höschesterwünschtes Feudenfest", BWV 194
Cantata No.119, "Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn", BWV 119
Yukari Nonoshita, soprano (BWV 194)
Yoshie Hida, soprano (BWV 119)
Kirsten Sollek-Avella, alto (BWV 119)
Makoto Sakurada, tenor
Jochen Jupfer, baritone (BWV 194)
Peter Kooij, bass
Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki
Rec: September 2000, Kobe Shoin Womenís University, Japan.
BIS CD-1111 [67.35]


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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 to match.

(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.)

Kirk McElhearn

Visit the Bach Collegium Japan webpage for reviews of other releases in this series

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