Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
With this release Masaaki Suzuki and his collaborators face that oh so tricky 45th album and we are delighted to report that they pull it off. During the period from which these three cantatas come, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) no longer presented a new one of his own every Sunday. Instead he made use of compositions by others, including his own cousin Johann Ludwig Bach. In several instances, Bach also reused texts set by Johann Ludwig for his own compositions, including two of the cantatas here, "Brich Dem Hungrigen Dein Brot" ("To Deal Thy Bread To The Hungry", BVW 39) and "Es Wartet Alles Auf Dich" ("These Wait All Upon Thee", BVW 187). Both of these follow a pattern which falls into two parts, with the opening text of each section being taken from the Old and the New Testament respectively. The third cantata, "Gelobet Sei Der Herr, Mein Gott" ("Praised Be The Lord", BVW 139), is also unusual in its structure, in that it utilises five strophes of a single hymn, word for word. The strophes are respectively used for an opening chorus, three arias and a closing chorale, with the first and fifth movement - resplendently scored with trumpets and timpani - utilising the same hymn melody, although in very different ways. The three arias (for bass, soprano and alto) are more intimate in size, but also highly varied, addressing in turn Christ, the Holy Spirit and the full Trinity. The disc closes with a movement for solo violin and orchestra, thought to be an opening sinfonia for an unknown cantata. It is possibly a late arrangement of an early work, as the highly virtuosic solo part seems to suggest influences from the Italian violin concertos that were making an impact in Germany during the first decades of the 18th century. As ever, the Bach Collegium Japan give an exemplary performance and we give three cheers for the soloists: Yukari Noontide (soprano), Robin Blaze (counter-tenor), and Peter Kooij (bass).
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