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Bernd Alois Zimmermann
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am posting this too in the Religious Music section for obvious reasons…

Whilst I love Bach's cantatas and consider them, along with his Masses, to not only be his magnum opus, but comparable to the works of Shakespeare, in the terms of their importance within the canon of western civilisation. That said, there are over 200 of them and they are incredibly foreboding to approach, given how many complete and individual recordings there have been over the last 60 years.

I have therefore decided to put together my own personal FranCantataStein. I have primarily being relying on Gardiner and Herreweghe's recent recordings, Richter's historical recordings and then supplementing these with other personal favourites of mine, such as Lionel Meunier's recent 4th and Thomas Hengelbrock's historical 12th.

If like me you adore Bach, could you please suggest some definitive or obscure recordings of individual cantatas that you adore and I may either not know, overlooked or considered in depth…

Chapeau!
 

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Bernd Alois Zimmermann
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592 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
This is where my preferences are thus far:

106, Gardiner (G)
249, G
110, G
61, G
70, G
4, Muenier (M)
31, G
66, G
134, G
115, Herreweghe (H)
101, H
103, H
105, H
198, H
140, G
12, Hengelbrock & Lotti
1, G
182, G
63, G
191, G
32, G
 

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Bernd Alois Zimmermann
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592 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Adore Suzuki. He’s my go to for Bach’s SJP & Organ works.

Which of the 53 are personal highlights, Marlow? I will compare with my own tmr.
 

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Have you heard Mengelberg’s two cantata recordings with Jo Vincent - 202 and 57? Some of Richter’s recordings with Fischer Dieskau too, the Easter cantatas.

For me, the thing which matters most in this music is the soloists, they have to make it sound meaningful - I mean, they have to be good with the words. In the big sets, where they are churning out cantatas on a conveyer belt, that can be a bit hit and miss. Tempo and articulation and choir size etc are for me secondary compared with the ability of the soloists to make it sound poetic.

That being said, the newer Gardiner series has some good singing I think, sopranos especially.
 

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Ludwig, I share your preference for Gardiner (SDG) and Herreweghe. Let me add Suzuki (my core recording, around which the others are arranged case by case), Philippe Pierlot and Kuijken.

Richter is like a visit to the museum for me. Interesting, but at distance. Tempi passati.

Rather than organizing a FrankenBachCycle by conductors, I would go for the different phases in Bach's live.

Early cantatas:
150 (Koopman)
131 and 4 ( Pierlot)
143 (Rotzsch)
71 (Koopman)

Weimar:
21 (Herreweghe)
61 (Suzuki, Kujiken)
161 (Suzuki)

Looking further will take some time ... I will cme back.
 

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Bernd Alois Zimmermann
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592 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Have you heard Mengelberg’s two cantata recordings with Jo Vincent - 202 and 57? Some of Richter’s recordings with Fischer Dieskau too, the Easter cantatas.

For me, the thing which matters most in this music is the soloists, they have to make it sound meaningful - I mean, they have to be good with the words. In the big sets, where they are churning out cantatas on a conveyer belt, that can be a bit hit and miss. Tempo and articulation and choir size etc are for me secondary compared with the ability of the soloists to make it sound poetic.

That being said, the newer Gardiner series has some good singing I think, sopranos especially.
Many thanks, Mandryka. havent heard this Mengelberg. Yep, love Richter & D-F as well as his recordings with Peter Schreier
 

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Bernd Alois Zimmermann
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ludwig, I share your preference for Gardiner (SDG) and Herreweghe. Let me add Suzuki (my core recording, around which the others are arranged case by case), Philippe Pierlot and Kuijken.

Richter is like a visit to the museum for me. Interesting, but at distance. Tempi passati.

Rather than organizing a FrankenBachCycle by conductors, I would go for the different phases in Bach's live.

Early cantatas:
150 (Koopman)
131 and 4 ( Pierlot)
143 (Rotzsch)
71 (Koopman)

Weimar:
21 (Herreweghe)
61 (Suzuki, Kujiken)
161 (Suzuki)

Looking further will take some time ... I will cme back.
Cheers, PhilDior. A number of the above are also my reference recordings, but I will compare the rest a list my own Top 25 in the next few days. Agree about Richter, and a lot of this anti-historical bias does come down to audio / sound quality, as even great solo arias by D-F, Ludwig and Schreier sound muffled in the mix…
 

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I would definitely add BWV 18 in the Gardiner version to the list, but then I am very partial to all of the Cothen and earlier cantatas, especially those featuring the recorder. This one has a severe archaic beauty that I love especially.
 

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This is an 'ole' article (more or less created for the Bach Year 2000), but still nice and informative to read, by Simon Crouch.

And here's his own rating of the cantatas (NOT the recordings, but the compositions as such):
 

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I have quite a number of the Suzuki cantata recordings (I generally prefer them marginally to the Gardiner ones) and many other standalone discs (I like the Pierlot recordings, for example). But I must say that I get more pleasure from the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt recordings despite the flaws. I have quite a number of those and they are the ones I turn to most.

I am not sure I am in a position to pick favourites from all those (I generally seek difference rather than a final choice).
 
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