Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Larry Kart

Solving my Bach Cantatas problem

4 posts in this topic

Yes, there are a good many fine recordings of individual cantatas, but I wanted them all and a few years ago, nudged by various things I'd read (in particular a piece by that dangerous jerk Richard Taruskin) and some previous good experiences with Harnoncourt in other repertoire, I bought the complete Teldec Harnoncourt-Leonhardt set, with its stop-and-start rhythms, often out-of-tune squeeky soprano boy soloists, etc. Finally deciding that enough was enough, I began to explore on Spotify and elsewhere the other modern or relatively modern complete sets -- Gardiner, Koopman, Suziki, Rilling (am I forgetting anyone?), eventually realizing that none of them (for various reasons) was right for me. Then by chance I picked up for $1 used a box of Karl Richter's secular cantatas and was quite taken with the quality of his (no doubt too large) choir, though his grim contralto soloist Hertha Topper (other soloists were typically excellent) and his typically slowish tempos and solemn gluey rhythms were not a plus. Did I want all the cantatas from Richter? I wobbled and decided probably no.

Then I heeded a recommendation to check out the 55 cantatas (in two sets of 10 CDs each, at bargain prices) that Fritz Werner (1898-1977) recorded for Erato from the late '50s to the early '70s. Just started to listen, and I think I got what I've been looking for. The vocal soloists are excellent -- tenor Helmut Krebs, soprano Agnes Giebel, basses Erich Wenz, Jacob Stampfli and Barry McDaniel, etc. -- as are the soloists in the orchestra (oboist Pierre Pierlot, trumpeter Maurice Andre, violinist Reinhold Barchet, etc.), and Werner's flowing, dancing sense of rhythm and phrasing is what I want, especially by contrast with Richter's almost uniform massiveness and Harnoncourt-Leonhardt's unwillingness to ever settle on a steady tempo (this allegedly, per Harnoncourt and  his admirer Taruskin, for rhetorical reasons -- Taruksin even claims that the cantatas often should sound "ugly" in musical terms [awkward rhythms, strained voices, etc.] because the content of the texts Bach was setting often was awkward and ugly. Think I know what Taruskin means up to a point, but there's a line between conveying some sense of strain and awkwardness and simple musical incompetence). Only drawbacks are that Werner's choir, while OK, is not in the same class as Richter's, and it's 55 cantatas, not everything; but I can't wait forever...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you tried Masaaki Suzuki's recordings, or Ton Koopman's? They both tend to standard solutions, which is why I prefer individual recordings closer to the original performance conditions, but after reading through what you listed, I think they could appeal to you. 

0608917235029.jpg7318599990552.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, mikeweil said:

Have you tried Masaaki Suzuki's recordings, or Ton Koopman's? They both tend to standard solutions, which is why I prefer individual recordings closer to the original performance conditions, but after reading through what you listed, I think they could appeal to you. 

0608917235029.jpg7318599990552.jpg

 

3 hours ago, mikeweil said:

Have you tried Masaaki Suzuki's recordings, or Ton Koopman's? They both tend to standard solutions, which is why I prefer individual recordings closer to the original performance conditions, but after reading through what you listed, I think they could appeal to you. 

0608917235029.jpg7318599990552.jpg

Never liked anything Koopman did other than his Handel Organ Concerti. In particular, I once bought and disposed of a set of Koopman's Buxtehude cantatas with much distaste. That does not bode well for me and his Bach. The Suzuki I've sampled seemed elegant but bland, and I didn't care for his soloists -- often lightweight and with little sense that they understand what they're singing. Wener's Helmut Krebs, for one, KNOWS.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bumping this cause, well ... Larry may still be looking

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.