cantatas from 1725 are gathered in this latest issue in Masaaki
Suzukiís BIS collection of Bach cantatas. This was the composerís
second year at Leipzig, during which his creative approach
in composing cantatas was to base the music around chorales
which were stated in clear at the end. Generally the chorales
were hymn tunes well known to the Lutheran congregation,
but for Bach they represented a musical challenge which brought
a different technical and creative response from one composition
to the next.
opening chorus of BWV111 is among the most complex of Bachís
choral cantata movements, operating on several levels simultaneously.
The orchestra of winds and strings plays what amounts to
a concerto movement, with clearly articulated thematic material,
while for the most part the vocal contribution is that of
hymn tune, with extended lines for the sopranos while the
remaining voices sing in close imitation. Since Bachís greatest
achievement lies in the field of counterpoint, this movement
is a classic example of his genius operating at the highest
standard. It is at once complex yet clear, and as such represents
a challenge to the musical director and the recording engineer.
In this first track Suzuki and his BIS engineer, Jens Braun,
score a notable success, and the performance is hugely satisfying,
tempo and texture perfectly articulated.
this cantata and its fellows Peter Kooij outlines the words
of his recitatives and arias with admirable clarity, while
the phrasing allows the reprise of the chorale theme to make
its articulating point. Bach was rather fond of combining
voices in duet, and this requirement of teamwork is confidently
met by these singers. There is no better example than Robin
Blaze and Andreas Weller in the uplifting fourth movement, So
geh ich mit beherzten Schritten (So I go with heartened
steps), in which the resonant strings add another dimension
other three cantatas match the standard of BWV111, but even
so it seems perfectly reasonable to suggest that BWV125, Mit
Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin, is the jewel in the crown.
Certainly Bach composed few choruses to match the beauty
of the opening movement, with voices and instruments combining
in contrapuntal texture of great beauty and refinement. Suzuki
explores the details of texture that add to the general experience,
for example giving just the right point to the additional
lines woven by the oboes and the transverse flute, the latter
making a special impression from the very beginning.
Blaze sings with the utmost sensitivity in the contemplative
aria that follows, when the woodwinds make their mark once
again. This is an extended number of nearly ten minutesí duration,
but the artistry is such that it justifies this length. The
excellent recorded sound makes a special contribution in
this regard; BISís SACD technology at its best.
this fine cantata there is also a top class recent recording
directed by Philippe Herreweghe, in which the great duet
for tenor and bass, Ein unbegreiflich Licht, is particularly
well done; even more clearly articulated than here. However,
both performances are splendid, and the violins of Bach Collegium
Japan have seldom been heard to better effect.
the highest presentation standards and an informative and
well organised booklet, this is another top quality issue
in Suzukiís cantata series for BIS.
For reviews of other releases in
this series on Musicweb, see the Bach