Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki - Cantatas 41

Published Tuesday 30th December 2008
Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki - Cantatas 41
Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki - Cantatas 41

STYLE: Choral
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

There are four cantatas on this impressive SACD (playable on any CD player). All are sung in German but I shall list their English titles: "I Shall Willingly Carry The Cross" (BWV 56), "I Am Content" (BWV 82), "May Peace Be With You" (BWV 158), and "I Am Content With My Happiness" (BWV 84). Three of these cantatas (the exception being "May Peace Be With You") come from Bach's fourth year in Leipzig, 1726-27, and thus from a period in which the hectic pace of work of his first two years there when he had to produce a new cantata every week had given way to a more moderate working style. Now Bach more frequently performed cantatas by other people, and he used the freedom thus obtained to expand the territory that he had hitherto explored in his sacred cantatas. And thus, between July 1726 and February 1727, he composed eight solo cantatas - works in which all of the recitatives and arias are assigned to just one singing voice and in only a few of which a choir is needed for a concluding chorale. Three of the cantatas collected here are of this type and the undatable "May Peace Be With You" does not sound out of place. The Dutch bass Peter Kooij opens with "I Shall Willingly Carry The Cross", the English soprano Carolyn Sampson follows with "I Am Content", next Kooij is joined by soprano Hanna Blazikova for my personal favourite "May Peace Be With You", and Carolyn Sampson finishes with "I Am Content With My Happiness". Masaaki Suzuki knows exactly what he is doing and collectors of this series will not be disappointed.

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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