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Bach Cantatas, Vol. 1: City of London

An album by English Baroque Soloists, Gillian Keith, Joanne Lunn, Johann Sebastian Bach, John Eliot Gardiner, and Paul Agnew

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A Pinnacle Achievement

  • Feb 15, 2006
John Eliot Gardner's Project - performing all of the myriad Bach cantatas on the Feast Days for which they were composed - is a daunting effort and one that may seem a bit on the Hollywood side of commercialism were it not for the quality of the finished concept.

These performances of Cantatas No. 7, 20, 30, 39, 75 and 167 are beautifully performed by the English Baroque Soloists (instrumentalists and chorus) with Wilke te Brummelstroete , Dietrich Henschel , Gillian Keith , Paul Agnew, and Joann Lund as the extraordinary soloists.

Gardiner finds the right tempi, flavor, and drama of each of these cantatas, emphasizing the style of performance from Bach's time. The results are top-notch, technically superb, elegantly performed works that stand with the best of the recorded versions. The Sonics of the recordings are excellent and the 'packaging' includes translations and informative, if somewhat exhaustive, notes on the derivation and history of each of the cantatas. This is Volume 1 and to be sure it will encourage the listener to purchase the entire set. Recommended. Grady Harp, February 06

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Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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This is the first of many volumes recording a Pilgrimage made in 2000, when John Eliot Gardiner, his remarkable instrumentalists and chorus and a team of outstanding soloists performed each Bach Cantata on the feast day for which it was originally composed. Each box will contain 2 CDs, copious notes, and full texts and translations. The fact of the Pilgrimage aside, these performances are simply stunning. Gardiner treats each cantata like a little drama, and his players and singers make certain to dramatize the music and text vividly. When, in Cantata No. 20, the tenor sings of "flames that burn forever," for example, the wildly difficult coloratura and accompanying strings slash with heat. Elsewhere, the listener will bask in Cantata 30's oddly rhythmic alto solo with flute and muted violins. The chorus is excellent throughout, but they dazzle in the 8-minute opening to Cantata 7. The soloists are well-known Bach singers, lieder singers, and performers from the world of opera. Bass Dietrich Henschel and tenor Paul Agnew are, perhaps, the finest of the five, and they have the most to do as well. This is a glorious set of six cantatas, a splendid 2.5 hours of great music-making.--Robert Levine
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Label: SDG - Soli Deo Gloria
Release Date: May 10, 2005

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