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Bach's Cantatas are a huge and amazing body of works. I've been listening to a lot of them recently ever since I got this set: http://www.amazon.com/Bach-Masterpieces-Cantatas-Johann-Sebastian/dp/B003647BUE

I mostly ordered this set for the bigger pieces in the box, Matthew and John Passion, the Mass and the Christmas Oratorio. I knew the Cantatas were going to be great, but even with my high expectations of them, they've been blowing my mind lately. So many outstanding gems in here and I don't think the Cantatas get enough attention, as so much time is allocated to talking about Bach's instrumental work.

So what are your favorite cantatas? What do you like about them? Ya know, all that rigmarole.

One of my favorites so far has been Cantata #94 Was Frag Ich Nach Der Weit:

Cantata #83 has a great solo violin part running through the movements and so far I've found it to be one of the most rhythmically interesting of the cantatas:
 

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Well, I do think that the cantatas are indeed much talked about, and loved my many, many people. Myself included. :)

There are so many wonderful passages, that is nearly impossible to choose a few among them. Just to mention one, I would select this splendid first movement from BWV 23, with the amazing doble duet between the two oboes and the two singers:

 

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Yes, lots of great works. Am also exploring the series, but wonder if I´ll ever finish with them.

The secular cantatas must be mentioned;
my favourite so far is the very theatrical Coffee Cantata B211.

Rilling´s recording and the Collegium Aureum/Ameling/Nimsgern recording are both good, whereas the Brilliant Classics one with Schreier is unusually devoid of humour.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well, I do think that the cantatas are indeed much talked about, and loved my many, many people. Myself included. :)

There are so many wonderful passages, that is nearly impossible to choose a few among them. Just to mention one, I would select this splendid first movement from BWV 23, with the amazing doble duet between the two oboes and the two singers:

Great example! Loved it. Thanks! The set I got doesn't have that one, unfortunately.
 

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Bach's Cantatas are a huge and amazing body of works. I've been listening to a lot of them recently ever since I got this set: http://www.amazon.com/Bach-Masterpieces-Cantatas-Johann-Sebastian/dp/B003647BUE

I mostly ordered this set for the bigger pieces in the box, Matthew and John Passion, the Mass and the Christmas Oratorio. I knew the Cantatas were going to be great, but even with my high expectations of them, they've been blowing my mind lately. So many outstanding gems in here and I don't think the Cantatas get enough attention, as so much time is allocated to talking about Bach's instrumental work.
I couldn't agree more. A gold mine (with some less interesting ore here and there between the rich veins). I've got them all but haven't listened carefully to more than half of them so far. I've tried to tame the collections with a spreadsheet but the abundance of brilliance and beauty has defeated my best efforts. Things I love? The lyricism, the interweaving of instruments, the interweaving of voices, the dance rhythms, the dazzling solo playing (when Bach had a good soloist available), the thrills, the intensity of feeling, the charm, the freshness and, obviously, the variety. That's off the top of my head.

You inspired me to pick out and play a CD at random from my collection (thank you) and I think it contains good examples of Bach's art in this genre:

Erschallet ihr Lieder BWV 172
Also hat Gott die Welt Geliebt BWV 68
Wie Schön Leuchtet der Morgenstern BWV1

All the choral parts on the CD were sung by Bach's own (800+ year old choir), Der Thomanerchor. A less Historically Informed Performance than many - and that's another thing, he sounds good to my ears either way.
 

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Good thread idea, some of my favorites are BWV 29, BWV 82, BWV 198, and BWV 199. I listened to most of them some time ago. I have all of them on the Brilliant Classics complete edition, plus alternate recordings of some of the others. Lately I've been spending so much time on other areas of Bach's vast oeuvre (and other composers) that unfortunately I've been neglecting getting to know more of these works in detail.

The only "problem" with these Cantatas is there are so many, and the works so rich and detailed it generally takes more than one listening to fully absorb one, never mind 200+! Truly an astonishing body of work.

Maybe someone should organize a weekly Cantata listening session, similar to the symphonies being done in the orchestral forum? (Unfortunately, I couldn't guarantee I'd be able to participate in every one).
 

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Well, I do think that the cantatas are indeed much talked about, and loved my many, many people. Myself included. :)

There are so many wonderful passages, that is nearly impossible to choose a few among them. Just to mention one, I would select this splendid first movement from BWV 23, with the amazing doble duet between the two oboes and the two singers:
I am surprised by the low numbers of posters, over here in my county we have whole site's dedicated to Bach cantatas.
 

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I have several sets of Bach's cantatas but have yet to listen to all the cantatas. I am taking my time as every single cantata is exceptional. I find it mind boggling that someone can enjoy JS Bach but omits the cantatas from his listening habit. The cantatas are the golden focal point of dear old Sebastian.

I highly recommend the Suzuki cantata cycle, It has perfect sound reproduction, outstanding orchestra, wonderful conductor with very good vocalists. Suzuki has a bright sound as he uses A=460Hz pitch. This enables his female sopranos to shine like no other. The details are further enhanced with a lot of treble energy. Suzuki also works his way chronologically, which works best for my OCD. It is addictive and I can't get enough of it.

Gardiner is another outstanding set to have. It is a bit warmer and more emotional at times than Suzuki. It is also based on the liturgical year which is nice

Rilling is not bad but the modern instrumentation is tiring and the vocalists are too operatic at times.

Leusink's Brilliant classic set is a no-go in my opinion. It is too anaemic lacking energy. Suzuki is my baseline and I always enjoy Gardiner's versions. Whenever I move to Leusink I feel the need to move on and listen to something else. YMMV of course

Richter set (incomplete) compliments the period instruments versions nicely.

I still have to give the Teldec 2000 Koopman/Harnoncourt cycle a listen.

Just yesterday I listened to BWV 138 and the bass aria was such a treat ...

 

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A favourite of mine is Ich habe genug, no 82. I have three versions of this (Janet Baker, David Daniels and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson), all wonderful in their own way, but I think the Hunt Lieberson has a special quality, even a valedictory quality, it having been recorded when she didn't have much time left.

I only wish I'd been one of those who saw her sing this, in a staged performance by Peter Sellars, at the Lincoln Centre, a performance that was, by all accounts, almost unbearably moving.

In Cantata No. 82, "Ich Habe Genug" ("I Have Enough"), Ms. Hunt Lieberson, wearing a flimsy hospital gown and thick woolen socks, her face contorted with pain and yearning, portrayed a terminally ill patient who, no longer able to endure treatments, wants to let go and be comforted by Jesus. During one consoling aria, "Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen" ("Slumber now, weary eyes"), she yanked tubes from her arms and sang the spiraling melody with an uncanny blend of ennobling grace and unbearable sadness.
Anthony Tommasini writing in the New York Times.
 

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I can't list a favorite yet because I've only been through the complete cycle once. A while ago I listened to one a night for however long it took. It was a great experience, but I don't have the time to do all that again. And each piece is so daunting; there's so much going on in them, and each one requires more than one listen. Also, it didn't help that I have Gardiner's book on Bach, with very detailed comments on the cantatas, and all that information amounts to an overload.

It's easier to get out Brahms' 1st and get it over with. I know; I'm a terrible person.
 

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There are so many great recordings of Back Cantatas. I grew up with the Fritz Werner recordings, old fashioned but Werner had fantastic singers and instrumentalists. From this period I also likes Richer until he slowed right down towards the end. The quirky gem was Scherchen. I'd love to get hold of his 42, still the most stunning orchestral prelude I've heard.
Then along came Harnoncourt and Leonhardt. I heard an interview with Harnoncourt recently where he related his bitter experiences as an orchestral player with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. He hated Geoge Szell: he said there were times he wanted to kill him
I feel the same way about Harnoncourt and Leonhardt's insistence to use boys to sing some of the most sensual and beautiful music ever written. They mostly butcher it.
Gardiner is ok if you like that sexless British choral sound, Herrewghe is ok too. I like Koopman, Suzuki, and as a smokey, the Rotsch recorings made in East Germany.
Such great great music.
 

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Whew! I'm glad to hear that so many of you don't have 'favorites' because of the sheer amount of great music in Bach's monumental life's work, which is how I think of these works that had escaped my ears until I recently got the Koopman box. I'm not alone! I thought there would be people rattling off BWV this and that and I've made a concerted effort to give the cantatas a large portion of my listening time and given the amount of music and the high quality of it all I can really name no favorites. The Koopman set has 67 discs and I'm now up to number 22 and so far there has been only one cantata that was forgettable, and I believe it was one of questionable origin.

Thanks for creating this thread violoadude, this will give me a place to check in with any finds I have. I'd participate in a weekly cantata as well.
 

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My favorite Bach Cantata is "Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen". Only great coloratura sopranos need apply. Maria Stader's performance with Karl Richter conducting is the best I've ever heard.

I'm not into collecting all of the Bach Cantatas, though I know Gardiner and Suzuki performances rate very highly.
 

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Is it just me or is the Suzuki box set only available as an import . . . for like $1,600.00
It seems you are looking at the Japan Import SACD box.

The complete set in one box will be available in April for £191 (UK)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bach-Cantatas-Collegiom-Blaikov%C3%A1-Nonoshita/dp/B01BXWH34E/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1456574114&sr=8-2&keywords=suzuki+bach+cantata

http://www.mdt.co.uk/bach-the-complete-sacred-cantatas-bach-collegium-japan-masaaki-suzuki.html

It should be available to purchase in the States in the same period.
 
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I feel the same way about Harnoncourt and Leonhardt's insistence to use boys to sing some of the most sensual and beautiful music ever written. They mostly butcher it.

Such great great music.
I like this cantata very much and it is very well performed,in my opinion.I am still in favour of this recordings .
 

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I like this cantata very much and it is very well performed,in my opinion.I am still in favour of this recordings .
I still listen to them too. Am immensely grateful to the friends Harnoncourt and Leonhardt for their brave and revolutionary collaboration. They invigorated and promoted performance of the Sacred Cantatas.

That kid was terrific and, to my ears, much better suited to the music than the more operatic female voices I hear in pre-HIP recordings. I see what a poster meant about boy soloists though. I think the soprano/bass duets in Wachtet Auf (BWV 140) for instance, don't work. Partly because of the lack of balance between the two voices and partly because the music is too seductive for that combination. My ideal of a Bach soprano is Barbara Schlick, who is now retired, though I could name other sopranos (mostly German or Japanese) whose work I love.

On the other hand, I enjoy the raw energy of some of the German language boys' choruses. I've seen videos of these amateurs and some of the kids are giving it all they've got! Listening to them, I can imagine JSB himself waving his arms around in front of the choir and terrorising them.
 
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