Author Topic: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.  (Read 13299 times)

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Offline laredo

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Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« on: February 05, 2011, 03:09:38 AM »
I've had the luck to listen to only a few of them: Actus Tragicus, BWV 140 and BWV 198. All of these works are fantastic.

Offline knight66

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2011, 11:31:27 AM »
I won't give you five straight off....but here is one.



BWV 170 'Vergnugte Ruh' 'Contented rest, with sweet and heart-felt joy'

One of Bach's solo cantatas, this for alto. It has two major arias. The first is like a lullaby, a meditation on death and resurrection. One of Bach's greatest qualities was to take theology and make it human. In his cantatas, there are all kinds of emotions expressed from grief to wonderment, gratitude, doubt, faith.

The two arias here are masterpieces and need a singer with great communication skills. In the recording I have suggested, you get it in spades. Janet Baker was an inspired singer. Although this is recording is over 30 years old, it sounds fresh. It does not use the current historically informed style, but it has integrity and speaks directly.

There is another very famous cantata here on the disc, Cantata No.82 'Ich Habe Genug'. The singer is John Shirley Quirk. It is a very good version, but treat it as a bonus to 170 and perhaps at some point cast around for another version of no 82.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B_4w62A5ss

Mike
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Offline knight66

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2011, 11:57:21 AM »
One further one for now; though of course, no disc gives you just one. But I will concentrate just on the first one from this disc.



In terms of performance, this is different from the last one. The performance practice and the sound of the instruments are all based as closely as possible on what Bach would have expected to hear. Though many points are hotly debated.

Liebster Gott BWV 8 is one of the choral cantatas with solo arias within it. Herreweghe, the conductor, starts the initial chorus off in typical dance tempo. A lot of Bach is based on the dance. This chorus starts with the flute piping away, drawing attention to the passing of time....here seconds of life are being used up. The flute was also often used by Bach to suggest The Holy Spirit, so here the Spirit hovers and prompts the faithful that time is passing.

There then follow two beautiful arias, tenor, then bass. The other two cantatas are just as treasureable, one with a substantial example of Bach's contemplative arias: Ich will auch mit gebrochnen Augen"


Here is a different and slightly faster performance of that first chorus than the one I have recommended.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKMRNuCKHlM

Here also is a terrific site full of information about the Bach Cantatas.

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/

Mike
« Last Edit: February 05, 2011, 12:44:39 PM by knight »
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Offline Opus106

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2011, 12:02:19 PM »
Nice of you to add some of your thoughts about your recommendations, Mike.
Regards,
Navneeth

Offline knight66

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2011, 12:08:19 PM »
My pleasure. I also endorse that two disc Bach/Handel set that James points out. It is full of marvelous music making. It does include one of the really great performances of Ich Habe Genug. There are quite a few of that great cantata I would point out. Fischer Dieskau, Hans Hotter from the more distant past and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson more recently.

Mike
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Offline Opus106

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2011, 12:25:23 PM »
My pleasure. I also endorse that two disc Bach/Handel set that James points out. It is full of marvelous music making. It does include one of the really great performances of Ich Habe Genug. There are quite a few of that great cantata I would point out. Fischer Dieskau, Hans Hotter from the more distant past and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson more recently.

Mike

I simply adore that work. I was introduced to it via the version for soprano, to which I'm still partial.
Regards,
Navneeth

Offline knight66

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2011, 12:38:47 PM »
One more for now.

Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen BWV56
Gladly I bear the cross.

This is a real declaration of faith. Bach provides within the accompaniment phrases that might be the tread of the spiritual journey being described within the words.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxBcbRK8miU

That was Dietrich Fischer Dieskau recorded in 1952.

Now a much more recent performance. The baritone is Klaus Mertens.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgk6qUeZW2c

I am deliberately contrasting these two performances. The older one is much more thick in texture, heavier in sheer sound, the legato pushed more and the approach overtly dramatic. The second one has lighter textures, is somewhat faster, the phrasing is more obvious and the voice becomes one of the instruments rather than being highlighted. The expression the singer puts into it is more contained.

One does not have to prefer one over the other, I enjoy both, though the older one in this instance speaks more powerfully to me. I don't know any other version that provides the emotional kick of the Fischer Dieskau.

However there is an argument to be made to suggest that the older version is too Romantic, too laden and overtly dramatic; out of its authentic style. But really, it is all there for the asking, you are not restricted to one path.

Mike
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Offline knight66

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2011, 12:42:22 PM »
I simply adore that work. I was introduced to it via the version for soprano, to which I'm still partial.

Navneeth, Yes, that soprano version is also beautiful, Bach provided it with a slighly different instrumentation. I have Barbara Hendricks, I should think the one you link is more HIP from the samples, sounds lovely. Argenta has a very silvery voice.

Mike
« Last Edit: February 05, 2011, 12:44:03 PM by knight »
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Offline Opus106

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2011, 12:50:01 PM »
Navneeth, Yes, that soprano version is also beautiful, Bach provided it with a slighly different instrumentation.

Yes, a flute instead of an oboe, for one of the most moving openings of any piece I know.

Quote
I have Barbara Hendricks, I should think the one you link is more HIP from the samples, sounds lovely. Argenta has a very silvery voice.

Mike

And a yes here also. Argenta is accompanied by Ensemble Sonnerie, a period instrument group. I also have the tenor bass version, in the big, red Gardiner box (also, as you know, HIP).

Listening to the DFD BWV 56 as I type.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 10:09:00 AM by Opus106 »
Regards,
Navneeth

Offline knight66

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2011, 12:52:23 PM »
I would be interested to know what you think of that DFD performance. I find it difficult to believe it was recorded a year before I was born...and it has worn its years considerably better.

Mike
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Offline Marc

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2011, 01:16:33 PM »
To me, this part of Bach's oeuvre is a Top 200+ ;), so it's impossible to select just 5 favourites.

:-X

LET'S DO IT!!

BWV 021: Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis
BWV 084: Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Glücke
BWV 106: Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit
BWV 125: Mit Fried' und Freud' ich fahr dahin
BWV 198: Laß, Fürstin, laß noch einen Strahl
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Antoine Marchand

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2011, 03:12:17 PM »
...I also have the tenor version, in the big, red Gardiner box (also, as you know, HIP).

... the tenor version, Opus?

P.S.: I was waiting for you since "the Colin Davis incident". I am a vindictive man.  ;D :D ;D


« Last Edit: February 05, 2011, 04:09:11 PM by Antoine Marchand »

Offline Marc

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2011, 03:34:01 AM »
A large thread about Bach's cantatas can be found here:

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,117.0.html

[About a.o. BWV 125 / Herreweghe c.s.]
The other two cantatas are just as treasureable, one with a substantial example of Bach's contemplative arias: Ich will auch mit gebrochnen Augen"

http://www.discogs.com/JS-Bach-Deborah-York-Ingeborg-Danz-Mark-Padmore-Peter-Kooy-Collegium-Vocale-Philippe-Herreweghe--Mit/release/2132559

Ich will auch mit gebroch'nen Augen
Nach dir, mein treuer Heiland, seh'n.
    Wenngleich des Leibes Bau zerbricht,
    Doch fällt mein Herz und Hoffen nicht.
    Mein Jesus sieht auf mich im Sterben
    Und lässet mir kein Leid gescheh'n.


I would, even with my broken vision,
To thee, my faithful Saviour, look.
   When once my body's form shall break,
   Yet shall my heart and hope not fall.
   My Jesus cares for me in dying
   And shall let no grief happen to me.


Probably my most beloved Bach aria, of which Herreweghe/Danz c.s. give a heartfelt performance.

http://www.mediafire.com/?1x3kydh031gsgsx
« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 03:36:23 AM by Marc »
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Offline Opus106

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2011, 10:12:30 AM »
I would be interested to know what you think of that DFD performance. I find it difficult to believe it was recorded a year before I was born...and it has worn its years considerably better.

Mike

Had I listened to the cantata before, or even that aria, especially a HIP version, I'm sure I would have been biased. But in spite of the 'heavy' instrumentation, I actually liked the singing.

... the tenor version, Opus?

P.S.: I was waiting for you since "the Colin Davis incident". I am a vindictive man.  ;D :D ;D

I was just making sure you're paying attention, dear Antoine. >:D ;) (And, by the way, I was actually serious about my question about Davis, which, I'm assuming, was the one with reference to Mozart PCs. I thought the set had passed through my radar undetected. :))
Regards,
Navneeth

Antoine Marchand

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2011, 04:43:48 PM »
(And, by the way, I was actually serious about my question about Davis, which, I'm assuming, was the one with reference to Mozart PCs. I thought the set had passed through my radar undetected. :))

I know, Navneeth; but it was fun to fake this vendetta.  :D

Offline knight66

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2011, 11:31:33 PM »
Had I listened to the cantata before, or even that aria, especially a HIP version, I'm sure I would have been biased. But in spite of the 'heavy' instrumentation, I actually liked the singing.


It was the first version of the music that I heard. Initially I did not take to the piece, but persisted and once it clicked, it became a piece I frequently listen to. That initial performance etched itself into me and I think, as so often, that has become my touchstone despite the legitimate issues listeners may have with it.


We could do with some more suggestions. I only have just over one half of the extant cantatas, there must be gems amongst the ones I don't even know!

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Offline val

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2011, 02:10:55 AM »
BWV 4, 11, 20, 44, 82.

abidoful

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2011, 02:40:10 AM »
I don't know so many, but
- Mein Herze Schwimmt in Blut is wonderful
- and  Bwv 4 (if I remember correctly, it's a big cantata, containing a wonderful duet Betwwwn Jesus and  someone)

Offline 1592Rome

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2017, 12:19:03 PM »
Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen (bwv 66) is a divine (Göttliche) Cantata, especially "Ich furchte - zwar, nicht des grabes finsternissen".

This is the tastiest version I have come across so far - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFlTRAhCav8 - Seems to be quite smooth, with no overly-squeaky trumpets.


Offline jessop

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Re: Choose your top five Bach Cantatas.
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2017, 04:53:55 PM »
If I could only choose five I would probably pick the following:

62
103
26
114
4
60

Ok I can't choose just five
« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 04:56:46 PM by jessop »

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