Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Cantatas Vol. 50
Cantatas from Leipzig: 1726-29
Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg, BWV149 (1728) [18:58]
Ich lebe, mein Herze, zu deinem Ergötzen, BWV145 (1729) [9:17]
Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte, BWV174 (1729) [20:57]
Ich geh und suche mit Verlangen, BWV49 (1726) [24:21]

Hana Blažíková (soprano); Robin Blaze (counter-tenor); Gerd Türk (tenor); Peter Kooij (bass)
Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki (organ)
rec. February 2011, Kobe Shoin Women’s University Chapel, Japan.
Hybrid Disc (SACD Surround/SACD Stereo/CD Stereo)
BIS-SACD-1941 [74:57]

Masaaki Suzuki with his Bach Collegium Japan commenced his complete cycle of the cantatas back in 1995. Bach wrote approaching 200 church cantatas and Suzuki is now on the home stretch with this collection of four church chorale works from Leipzig in 1726/29.
The Bach Collegium Japan orchestra and choir were founded in 1990 by their director and keyboard player Masaaki Suzuki. The orchestra are renowned as Japan’s leading period instrument players. They specialise in the work of J.S. Bach and bring to it their historically informed knowledge of sacred baroque music. As his recording venue Suzuki has chosen the splendid church acoustic of the Shoin Women’s University Chapel in Kobe, Japan.
Three of the Leipzig cantatas BWV149, BWV145 and BWV174 were composed in collaboration with the local poet Christian Friedrich Henrici who wrote under the pseudonym ‘Picander’. These three cantatas form part of the set of nine that are all that remain of those written for the 1728/29 church season. In the accompanying notes Klaus Hoffmann contends that as many as fifty other cantatas from that same single church year may have been lost.
It is worthwhile noting that the Sinfonia that opens cantata BWV174 utilises the impressive first movement of Bach’s third Brandenburg Concerto a score composed earlier, probably in Weimar. Also here is a fourth cantata, BVW49. This is an earlier Leipzig work from 1726. It sets a ‘dialogue’ text to an unknown librettist. Here Bach uses the parable of the royal wedding feast from Matthew 22:1-14 as the basis for a dialogue between Jesus sung by a bass and the faithful Soul sung by a soprano. Each of the four cantatas makes sparing use of the chorus. Cantatas BWV145 and BWV 174 each have a pair of arias/duets and BWV149 and BWV49 contain three arias/duets connected by recitatives all with a final chorale of varying lengths. In these scores can be found examples of parody where Bach reuses existing music and sometimes words from older pieces that were not intended exclusively for these mainly Picander texts.
Once again Suzuki has engaged an exceptional quartet of soloists. Robin Blaze (counter-tenor), Gerd Türk (tenor) and Peter Kooij (bass) have appeared in many of the other releases in the series. Another fine choice was the bright and alert soprano Hana Blažíková whom I was hearing for the first time. Highlights include the alto/tenor duet Seid wachsam, ihr heiligen Wächter from BWV149 with the marvellously blended pairing of Robin Blaze and Gerd Türk stating their awareness of another day under God’s watchful eye. In BWV49 sung to lovely organ accompaniment over a ground bass I especially enjoyed rich and sonorous Kooij’s wonderful aria Ich geh und suche mit Verlangen describing Jesus seeking his faithful. Opening BWV 145 is the tenor and soprano duet Ich lebe, mein Herze expressively rendered by Türk and Blažíková. So exquisitely matched the pair proclaim that Jesus opens the gates of heaven for sinners. The assured counter-tenor Robin Blaze excels in Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte from BWV174 extolling God’s love.
This cantata series is so consistent and often remarkable in terms of both performance and sound quality. A must for any serious Bach devotee.
Michael Cookson

A must for any serious Bach devotee.