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.
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…
In many ways this is a special recording. It features first-desks from the Chicago Sym. playing two of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, and so far beyond the average Baroque ensemble are they that one yearns for the other four. Just to hear the amazing trumpet solos in Concerto no. 2 by the legendary Adolph Herseth repays the cost of the CD. But we also get James Levine doing double duty at the harpsichord in Concerto no. 5. One deficit from the rise of period performance is that non-specialists have been driven out. The days when an all-around musician like Levine or Leonard Bernstein performed Bach and Handel are more or less over, and their replacements, to be tactful, are not on such an exalted level of talent…. By Santa Fe Listener
]Yoshikazu Mera born May 21, 1971, in Miyazaki, Japan, is a Japanese countertenor. His range is three and a half octaves. Originally wanting to become a pop singer, Mera now primarily sings classical music from the West but also classical Japanese music. He appears frequently as a soloist with the Bach Collegium Japan, which under its conductor Masaaki Suzuki performs Baroque music. His 1998 recital disc "Nightingale" on Sweden's BIS Records was a major success in Japan.