Another volume in Suzuki’s
impressive cantatas cycle, this time
combining Leipzig cantatas from Bach’s
first years in the city, with the Reformation
cantata Ein feste Burg, which
had its roots ten years earlier in Weimar
but reached its final version in Leipzig.
In fact it is not even as simple as
that. For decades later, Bach’s son
Carl Philipp Emanuel made his own performing
edition, adding trumpets and drums to
bring an extra, more melodramatic, sense
Needless to say, Suzuki
opts for Bach’s Leipzig original here.
The opening chorus sets the tone, and
is an interesting amalgam of solo and
ensemble voices, the textures enriched
as the contrapuntal complexities build.
It is a most successful ploy, though
for the listener expecting the immediate
deployment of the chorus it comes as
a shock. But with each hearing it convinces
more and more, and the balance between
clarity and richness is well made. The
chorus itself, of course, is a tour-de-force
of imagination and organisation.
Gerd Turk and Pascal
Bertin make a compelling combination
in the duet with obbligato oboe da caccia
that lies at the heart of the work.
Taken as a whole, this cantata is performed
with a well articulated vision of long-term
goals as well as short-term details.
Although less famous,
the other two cantatas are equally inspired.
BWV5 has one of Bach’s most fluent arias,
in which the tenor voice is accompanied
by an unusual obbligato: the viola.
By way of contrast the bass, Peter Kooy,
has an aria whose approach is at the
opposite extreme: declamatory and with
noisy instrumental support. The fast
tempo leads to problems here, and the
trumpet, for example, does not gel with
BWV115 opens with a
wonderful chorus, whose textures are
beautifully clear in Suzuki’s performance.
All credit too must be accorded the
BIS engineers, who have done such sterling
work in relation to this project. As
such this chorus exemplifies their contribution
perfectly. There are fine arias too,
with Bach at his most lyrically sensitive.
The scoring in the second of them is
extraordinary: flute, ‘cello piccolo’,
and continuo, with an unequivocal Molto
adagio tempo which is definitely
Bach’s own and not editorial. Susanne
Rydén is on excellent form in
this beautiful number, and this cantata
is therefore the discovery among this
Visit the Bach
Collegium Japan webpage for reviews of other releases
in this series