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Cantatas, volume 44

#alttext# Bach Collegium Japan records BWV 43, 88, 146 on BIS in volume 44 of Johann Sebastian Bach's cantatas. BWV 146 opens the recording, with a "sinfonia" that features organo concertato, which has also appeared as a concerto with different instruments (harpischord, and an arrangement for violin). I'm not sure the ensemble is 100% together in the opening; the oboes sound like they're becoming detached from the ensemble, and at times, the organ feels like it is rushing. The cantata proper is Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal, and in track two Bach works the concerto's famous bass line underneath the text for chorus. I get the impression, with the solo organ on top as the "soloist" that Bach likely first wrote the concerto. I'm not terribly impressed with the effect in this second movement of the cantata, but it does show Bach's sense of economy in his willingness to re-use work. The third movement opens with solo organ, in a major mode. Playful on top is an aria for alto, featuring here Robin Blaze, a Suzuki favorite of late in his cantata series. As it continues, I hear the same quality that had me cocking my head to one side in the previous track; the tuning of the organ doesn't seem always to coincide with the scale of the other performers (it might be like combining a mean-tone temperament on one instrument, while everyone else is singing along a pure scale). The aria Ich sae meine Zähren takes us back to a slower tempo and the minor mode; here flute takes over for adding color on top. This is a well-done soprano aria. Another upbeat, major-mode aria takes the 7th track slot, a duet aria for tenor and bass. Where has that solo organ gone? I don't have the program notes for this recording, so I'm due some research on BWV 146... it's an odd hodge-podge for sure, with a lot of color by the end, and a missing organ. Suzuki employs the organ on the finale, a chorale. The next work is BWV 88, Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussenden which has a nice opening instrumental episode before the bass aria. I found the rest of the cantata dull. The final work is a 11-movement cantata, Gott fahret auf mit Jauchzen featuring trumpet and kettle drums. The opening is certainly celebratory, as any piece with trumpets and drums might be. This is the only work on the recording with which I had prior knowledge of, having a recording of Ian Bostridge with the tenor aria (3rd movt.). This work seems better wrought, I believe, with more interesting arias for sure than BWV 88. But the performance also is more confident to my ears too. The solo trumpet in BWV 43.7 is well done. The next aria goes from bass to tenor, with a fairly rapid tempo and two oboes to play in thirds along with the soloist. In building my collection of Bach's cantatas, I do know that I need to live with each work independently over repeated listens (and with a score, sometimes helps). I haven't been as successful in appreciating my newest acquisitions when they come without a booklet. The translations of course help a lot for the text, and the luxury of not having to look up details about the origin of the work is a nice pleasure. These three, however, aren't impressing me on the limited listen I've been able to proffer this recording. And while I'm oft to blame the performers, I think BCJ does a good job on the first and last works. BWV 88 seems uninspired, and the first work is attractive for its re-use of concerto material. But without the context of the score, the text, or the "story" behind these, they don't pop as lost Bach masterworks. Needless to say, this recording helped me check-off three BWVs towards my acquisition of Bach's complete works.

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas op.10 1-3

Reflections - Canada 2011