In June 1995, a virtually unknown group of Japanese musicians embarked on the monumental task of recording the complete sacred cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach. Almost eighteen years later, on 23rd February 2013, the Bach Collegium Japan and Masaaki Suzuki – by then household names in the international music world – reached their goal, as they finished recording the 55th disc in a series which in the meantime had met with overwhelming acclaim worldwide. Made in conjunction with the final cantata recording, this film commemorates the occasion. Besides filmed performances of the three last cantatas – Gloria in excelsis Deo, BWV191, Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele, BWV69 and Freue dich, erlöste Schar, BWV30 – the film includes interviews with Masaaki Suzuki and key members of Bach Collegium Japan as well as behind-the-scenes footage.
It is no surprise that Sir Simon would one day tackle this most comprehensive of Bach’s compositions in view of his much applauded interpretation of the St. John Passion in 2006. The Berliner Morgenpost wrote at the time: “A performance of this musical calibre renders superfluous all questions about authenticity and historical performance practice. At the Philharmonie Sir Simon Rattle and his orchestra performed the St. John Passion […] with highly concentrated and flawless beauty devoid of any distorting indulgence.”
When Philippe Jaroussky - whose angelic voice seems almost timeless - sings works by Telemann and Bach, it becomes abundantly clear that the sheer emotional force and the purifying power of their music have not diminished one bit over the centuries.
Brilliant composer and organist Johann Sebastian Bach completes the long journey from his home in Leipzig to Potsdam.
The Mass in B Minor, Bach’s last completed vocal work as well as the climax of his creativity, reveals the overwhelming wealth of his compositional skills. In the history of music it ranks highly, as the “Montblanc of church music” (Franz Liszt) – composed during Bach’s time as cantor at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. Performed in this important composer’s domain, the Mass in B Minor casted a spell over its listeners as the crowning glory of the Leipzig Bach Festival in 2013: Under the direction of Bach’s successor Georg Christoph Biller, the St. Thomas Boys Choir and an outstanding soloist quintet perform with the prestigious Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, playing on authentic period instruments.
The Berlin Philharmonic at the peak of their "Karajan sound" capabilities throw the full weight of their symphonic splendour at this Bach program.As for sound and video quality: all DVDs from this Karajan series are exceptionally good considering that the original material was recorded 20 some years ago. They leave nothing to be desired.