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Reviews: Bach: Cantatas Vol. 46 - Suzuki

Reviews: 1

Review by wehecht November 9, 2010 (7 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
From time to time I have mentioned my admiration for Maestro Suzuki's recordings for BIS, particularly singling out the Cantata series. In doing so I've acknowledged that I share the Lutheran spiritual tradition with both JSB and Suzuki, and that I find the devotional quality of these performances to be unsurpassed. So, having firmly stated my biases let me begin.

In disc order the four cantatas comprising this volume come from the 10th, 8th, 14th, and 15th Sundays after Trinity, the 15th being the Feast of St. Michael which was a significant day in the church calendar of Bach's time though not in current Lutheran practice. Briefly then, except for BWV 19 there are no high points in the church calendar among the Sundays represented here, and yet the material is some of Bach's best, particularly with respect to the powerful opening choruses and the theological development of the texts. Nowhere is the text setting more sensitive than in BWV 102 where the text comments upon the Gospel for that Sunday, Jesus' lament over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-48) as applied more generally to the spiritual blindness of mankind, particularly Christians. This is one of my favorite preaching texts and the message still bears repeating.

Those who are collecting this series will know what to expect. There's nothing Rifkinesque here. Masaaki Suzuki leads an orchestra numbering about twenty pieces with a chorus of similar size plus the four vocal soloists. The performances are uniformly excellent, though I would single out bass Peter Kooij for special praise. Booklet notes on the music and the texts are exemplary and include the usual note on performance practice matters by Maestro Suzuki. The multichannel sound renders every line of the music and texts clearly while setting it all in an attractive and appropriate chapel acoustic.

In discussing BWV 45 annotator Klaus Hofmann writes: "In the introductory chorus Bach develops the Bible text into a musical sermon with unprecedented rhetorical emphasis." That's exactly why this whole series of recordings is so special, it produces an unprecedented unity of music and text across this enormous body of work. SDG.

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