Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki - Cantatas 39

Published Sunday 24th August 2008
Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki - Cantatas 39
Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki - Cantatas 39

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 49321-12852

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Here we are again: Volume 39 of this extensive and excellent excursion into the liturgical music of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). As ever, Masaaki Suzuki uses a Japanese choir and orchestra supplemented by European soloists: Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Robin Blaze (counter-tenor), Gerd Turk (tenor) and Peter Kooij (bass). Along with these familiar voices we have some specialist period instrumentalists: Dmitry Badiarov on violoncello da spalla ("shoulder cello") and the brass quartet Concerto Palatino. The five cantatas on this SACD (playable on any standard CD player) date from 1725 when the composer's programme of a year-long cycle of cantatas was interrupted for some reason. Bach needed to work in a hurry and recycled some themes that we may recognise from earlier in his illustrious career. The pieces are, as usual, sung in German but I will give their titles in translation: "For God So Loved The World" (BWV 68), "He Calleth His Own Sheep By Name" (BWV 175), "Praise God! Now The Year Draws To A Close" (BWV 28) and "I Am The Good Shepherd" (BWV 85). I have enjoyed all the releases in this series to date and this one even more so. I particularly liked some of the unusual instruments that add to the overall experience even though, as the booklet notes explain, there has to be a certain amount of educated guesswork to reconstruct Bach's intentions. Even if some of these guesses are misguided this is still an exquisite release.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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