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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.
Richer is of course meant to be Kart Richter.
There is also a supremely beautiful rendition of #170. The alto is Aafje Heynis and it's available on Australian Eloquence.
 

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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)
Back in the '90s when Suzuki began his cycle, I was going to put $50 in the stock market and wait for it to grow so that when the box set came out, I could purchase it with my ill-gotten gains. Unfortunately, I haven't had the best luck with legalized gambling, so it looks like I'm to remain happy with the Brilliant set.
 

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Back in the '90s when Suzuki began his cycle, I was going to put $50 in the stock market and wait for it to grow so that when the box set came out, I could purchase it with my ill-gotten gains. Unfortunately, I haven't had the best luck with legalized gambling, so it looks like I'm to remain happy with the Brilliant set.
Ahhh... you are better served listening to Suzuki pieces found at random on youtube.

The Brilliant cycle is the least engaging, most boring set of them all. The more I try to listen to it, the more I am repelled.

But then it could just be me addicted to the my precious Suzuki cantatas. I adore them all!
 

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Ahhh... you are better served listening to Suzuki pieces found at random on youtube.

The Brilliant cycle is the least engaging, most boring set of them all. The more I try to listen to it, the more I am repelled.

But then it could just be me addicted to the my precious Suzuki cantatas. I adore them all!
I have a soft spot for the Brilliant set. They are probably the closest to being historically informed performances in that they probably sounded like Bach's choir; competent, at times maybe brilliant, but not having a lot of time tease out the details like the present choirs are able to. So Leusink's choir is Bach as it was and Suzuki is Bach as it should be.

Of course, I have several Koopman, Gardiner, Herreweghe, and Suzuki CDs to supplement it, so I at least have a nice mix.
 

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I have a soft spot for the Brilliant set.
Yes, me too. In fact I prefer them in general to the Rilling set (which I also have). The Brilliant set is too often run-down IMO.

I recently bought the translations to all the Cantatas in paperback; one could I suppose view them as mini-operas. Not to be confused with the more theatrical oratorios of Handel though. Bach is pretty fire and brimstone, hell and damnation stuff. Still it provides an additional dimension to the aural pleasure.
 

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I have a soft spot for the Brilliant set. They are probably the closest to being historically informed performances in that they probably sounded like Bach's choir; competent, at times maybe brilliant, but not having a lot of time tease out the details like the present choirs are able to. So Leusink's choir is Bach as it was and Suzuki is Bach as it should be.

Of course, I have several Koopman, Gardiner, Herreweghe, and Suzuki CDs to supplement it, so I at least have a nice mix.
You do have a point there. Suzuki did start his project in 1995 for goodness' sake! Leusinck had less than a year to record the entire set.

I just listened to a few cantatas from Leusinck's Set to see if I keep missing something. I also listened to BWV 147 from Suzuki, Gardiner and Leusinck.

Suzuki is excellent and the best in my opinion. BWV 147 is nicely balanced, with excellent instrumental music, vocals and timing. The recording quality and engineering is absolutely fantastic as always from BIS. Suzuki's rendition of the famous choral is stupefying!

Gardiner's BWV 147 is good but too fast with the choral! That choral is not what I was expecting. Voices are great but a bit too emotional at times. The intrumental music is excellent as is the recording and sound engineering.

Leusinck's BWV 147 instrumental music is fine with good tonality but sounds congested at times. The recording quality is not good. The main problem is the vocal performers. Whilst the bass is good and the tenor is fine, the soprano is mediocre and the alto is absolutely horrific! They spoil all the fun and it is such a shame. The cantatas I have heard from the Leusinck (Brilliant) set suffer from the same issues.

The problem with this is once I heard much better recorded cantatas, going back to 'ok' perfomance feels like listening to any random local orchestra / chorus.

Leusinck did record the cycle in less than a year and unlike Gardiner did not have great vocal performers and an excellent orchestra to support him. He does convey the essence of the music but unlike Suzuki or Gardiner's excellence, Leusinck can only be considered as mediocre / good quality.
 

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Yes, me too. In fact I prefer them in general to the Rilling set (which I also have). The Brilliant set is too often run-down IMO.

I recently bought the translations to all the Cantatas in paperback; one could I suppose view them as mini-operas. Not to be confused with the more theatrical oratorios of Handel though. Bach is pretty fire and brimstone, hell and damnation stuff. Still it provides an additional dimension to the aural pleasure.
I'm curious what translation your purchased. I'm currently using the Bach-Cantata website for translations of the texts:

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/index.htm

Some seem less successful than others, however that is based on the consistency of the English of the translation, I know no German.

I'm currently making my way through the Koopman cantata cycle, nearly half-way through, so I'm looking for resources to supplement the experience and my knowledge. I used to listen to vocal music as absolute music, mostly ignoring the text, however over the last few years the importance of the text has grown on me.
 

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Whilst the bass is good and the tenor is fine, the soprano is mediocre and the alto is absolutely horrific! They spoil all the fun and it is such a shame.
From my understanding, Ruth Holton was intentionally trying to sound like a boy soprano, so she doesn't get very expressive. So I give her some slack. But I agree, the alto is horrible. Someone described him as sounding like he just came from the dentist.
 

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You do have a point there. Suzuki did start his project in 1995 for goodness' sake! Leusinck had less than a year to record the entire set.
The Leusinck set has many disadvantages; I had no idea he recorded all the cantatas in less than a year. That would explain the sub-par interpretations and execution. Of course, as a buyer, I don't give any slack for the small time period. It was a stupid way to go about it.
 

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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! Very well put.:tiphat:
German boy choirs sound much more engaged and expressive than English boy choirs. From Ramin to Rotsch, the choirs from Leipzig sing joyfully.
 

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The Leusinck set has many disadvantages; I had no idea he recorded all the cantatas in less than a year. That would explain the sub-par interpretations and execution. Of course, as a buyer, I don't give any slack for the small time period. It was a stupid way to go about it.
I completely agree. The whole Leusinck project took 15 months to be precise. It was criticised at the time for rushing through these at mass market production. The results are there to be listened to and they are far from ideal.

Gardiner within the same time period managed to record a really fine set. His undertaking was miraculous.

Suzuki started in 1995 and finished in 2013! Now that is dedication! And his set in my opinion, is perfection incarnate (I am a biased fan ;)). He took his time until he got it right.

Prospective buyers should chose wisely and not be lured by cheaper sets. It is not worth the money or time it takes to listen. Every single cantata is a treasure to behold and having it ruined by amateur performance is a shame.

JS Bach's cantatas may well be the culmination of a journey into Bach's works and I think chosing a well performed set is crucial in fulfilling that aim.
 

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Happened on this thread this morning while exploring Sigiswald Kuijken's recordings (via Tidal) for the first time. Enjoying the one to a part aspect. A nice contrast to the Gardiner, Richter, Harnoncourt et al in my collection.
 

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Interesting topic. I dont have a complete cycle of all the cantatas, but I have gone though Richter's recording on Archiv for many times. The singers did an excellent job, and Ricther's unique reading of Bach really fits me.
From a non-technical point of view, here are some of my favorite sacred cantatas in this set:
BWV4,8,11,12,21,23,45,51,56,61,63,67,78,80,82,92,106,132,140,147,199.
Also I am looking for some well-known sacred cantatas that did not included in the set, like:
BWV29,42,54,110,119,161,131,143,170,172,198.
 

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I own several complete sets, Leusink, Koopman, Rilling, Suzuki. A few Gardiner recordings and all Herreweghe recordings, but he does not record the complete cantata's unfortunately.

I prefer Herreweghe, but from the complete sets I prefer Koopman, Suzuki.
I have a weak spot for Bach's early canata's, but there are lots of great ones, like 21, 70, 106, 78, 131, 35, 146, .......too many
 

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Suzuki's set is closest to the church spirit I think. Gardiner's set sounds more dramatic in interpretation.
 
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