These three sonatas - composed originally for the viola da gamba and harpsichord - are very musically-appealing compositions. And unlike previous Baroque cahmber-music tradition, the harpsichord is not relegated to mere continuo but projected into the spotlight as co-soloist - perhaps to showcase some of Bach's keyboard virtuosity. There are several fine period recordings of these works on viola da gamba and harpsichord (Savall, Peri, Crum, Wispelwey) or modern cello with harpsichord (Ma, Tortelier). But if your taste favors all modern instuments (cello, piano), then this circa-80's CD by the legendary Martha Argerich and Misha Maisky is the ticket.
Kuijken was born in Dilbeek, near Brussels. He was a member of the Alarius Ensemble of Brussels between 1964 and 1972 and formed La Petite Bande in 1972. Since 1971 he has taught Baroque violin at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and the Koninklijk Muziekconservatorium in Brussels. He is noted for using the older technique of resting the violin on the shoulder without a shoulder rest, rather than held under the chin. He is a member of the Kuijken String Quartet, which he formed in 1986. In recent years, he has also performed as conductor of symphonies of the Romantic era…wiki
Although conductors invariably include the six great motets of Bach (BWV225-230) in recordings of these works, they seldom if ever seem to agree which if any other of Bach's motets to perform with them. John Eliot Gardiner very sensibly goes for the lot, adding Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren (BWV231) and the little-known Der Gerechte kommt um which does not even have the benefit of a Schmieder number. As well as these, Gardiner also includes two short pieces which belong, at least nominally, to the cantata category, BWV50 and BWV118. In the case of the latter there is much justification for doing so for it's a single movement choral piece in motet style written for a funeral in about 1736 and revised for a performance around 1740. Here we have what sounds to me like a compromise; in other words the horns, cornetto and sackbuts of the first version (possibly intended for an open air occasion), with the strings and woodwind of the second. This may be explained in the texts, none of which has been included with my review copy…
The opening chorus "Jauchzet Frolocket" is absolutely awesome. I have never heard any other performance that captures the brilliance and power in that chorus the way Flamig and the Kreuzchor do. Equally amazing is the way they combine precision and expressive sensitivity (may have something to do with the influence of Heinrich Schutz on the Dresden Kreuzchor). It avoids the lush excesses of many "modern" performances as well as the weak sound of some "authentic" performances. This is Bach at its best.
This is the second of a series of themed cantata recordings by Marcel Ponseele and his crack ensemble, Il Gardellino. The first, titled Desire , was reviewed in Fanfare 34:5. The current disc, titled De Profundis , includes one of Bach’s earliest cantatas, BWV 131, and one of his latest, BWV 177, as well as a cantata by one of Bach’s prominent contemporaries, Christoph Graupner (1683–1760). The latter is of particular interest because Graupner was the Leipzig Town Council’s second choice (after Telemann) to replace its retiring cantor, Johann Kuhnau, in 1723. But Graupner was unable to obtain a release from his current employer, giving the appointment to the third choice, Johann Sebastian Bach, and changing the course of music history. In fact, the much-maligned council’s logic was sound. Telemann, a former resident, was the most celebrated (and industrious) composer in Germany, and Graupner had been Kuhnau’s apprentice.