The inexhaustible and compelling journey of exploring Bach’s cantatas and the great choruses which define the heart of their message – lies primarily in the depth, richness and variety of Bach’s response to the seamless rhythm of the liturgical year. Particular events in the Lutheran calendar are associated with the contemplative or the celebratory and yet, within these seasonal expectations, Bach departs radically from convention in his nearly-200 surviving church cantatas written between about 1703 and the late 1740s.
Underappreciated in his own time, Johann Sebastian Bach has ascended to Olympian heights in the estimation of generations of music lovers. But what is it about his music that makes it great? Composer and musicologist Robert Greenberg helps you hear the extraordinary sweep of Bach's music and understand his compositional language—whether you're a devoted admirer or a casual listener.
Professor Greenberg sets Bach in context by tracing the musical traditions and composers from whom he drew his inspiration, and explaining how Bach absorbed these influences to become the transcendent composer of the High Baroque. According to Professor Greenberg, no other composer is more representative of the period and its aesthetic of emotional extravagance and technical control.You will also learn how Bach's background—at least 42 of his relatives were professionally involved with music—and his strong German Lutheran heritage shaped his development as an artist.
Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, a collection of love songs grew up. Under the title of the “Most beautiful of songs”, they found a home in the Old Testament-it was Martin Luther who first gave them the name of “Song of songs”-and since that time they have inspired and fascinated a vast number of theologians, mystics, philosophers, poets, painters, and, last but not least, composers. Particularly during the Baroque period, these poetic, sensual, vividly descriptive texts were set over and over again to music, and they inspired librettists to expand on the original texts.
This SACD from PentaTone was recorded originally in 1970, not long after he’d made his official debut as an organist. (His organ recitals are notable for being played from memory.) The performances were taken down in the then-new quadraphonic system & released on Philips LPs. But of course quadraphonic LPs were a less than ideal carrier for the 4ch sound on the tapes. Fortunately PentaTone, a company founded by ex-Philips personnel, has been reissuing quad recordings on SACDs remastered from those tapes & they sound spectacularly lifelike. They are, of course, in 4ch sound, not the 6ch that the modern SACD system is capable of.
Les Noces is a screaming, shrieking, flat-out masterpiece. Leonard Bernstein himself has referred to it as Stravinsky's greatest work, and listening to this incendiary performance, it's awfully hard to disagree. Scored for voices, four pianos, and percussion, the work provided the inspiration for the entire career of Orff (of Carmina Burana fame), but it's so much better as sheer music than anything Orff wrote. And what a cast! The pianists for this performance include Martha Argerich, Krystian Zimerman, Cyprien Katsaris, and Homero Francesch, four certified virtuoso performers, while the singers of the English Bach Festival Chorus really cover themselves with glory in both works. A stunner.
Conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. A fantastic concert celebrating the coming of Christmas, recorded live at one of Austria's finest baroque monasteries. Soloists are Christine Schafer, Anna Korondi, Bernarda Fink, Ian Bostridge, Christopher Maltman. With the Concentus Musicus Vienna and the Arnold Schoenberg Choir.
The second section of the cantata is a long vocal section opening with four soloists (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) singing together. Many recordings of this cantata use a choir for this section, but recent recordings have featured a one-voice-per-part strategy here, as does this one. The texture of this is excellent, although the balance between the voices wavers a bit. The tenor, bass and soprano each have ariosos within this section. Tenor Knut Schock enters a bit heavily, but his voice is quite appropriate for the melancholy tone of his section. Bass Bas Ramselarr has a slightly dark, yet clear voice. His section features a delightful accompaniment by the two recorders - in an interesting counterpoint with such a deep voice - and, again, the balance is slightly off, his voice sometimes drowning out the recorders just a bit…