WORKS: Cantatas (three discs)
PERFORMER: Ingrid Kertesi; Julia Paszti; Judit Nemeth; Jozsef Mukk; Istvan Gati Hungarian Radio Chorus; Failoni Chamber Orchestra, Budapest/Matyas Antal
CATALOGUE NO: 8.550641/42/43 DDD
These discs encompass the most popular of Bach’s cantata output. Only Wachet auf (Sleepers Wake) and the first part of the Christmas Oratorio are missing.
The cantatas are generally the cornerstone of any music library, but one cannot recommend these recordings – however cheap -except to those listeners who prefer their Bach inauthentic. Recorded in the boomily sepulchral acoustic of Festetitch Castle in Budapest, the unfashionably large forces of the Hungarian Radio Chorus sound ragged. The conductor, Matyas Antal, encourages his chorus and the Failoni Chamber Orchestra to perform with an energy on the coarse side of vigorous. He is fairly well served in his soloists, but they in turn are let down by the acoustic and recording quality.
The best disc of the three is Naxos’s time-honoured pairing of Sckweigt stille, plaudert nicht!— Bach’s surprisingly witty parable of the romantic side-effects of coffee-drinking – and his Teutonically unfunny but nonetheless charming send-up of cantata formalities known as the Peasant Cantata. I prefer my Bach sopranos with a cooler tone than Ingrid Kertesi’s, but am well aware that the Emma Kirkby syndrome is not to everyone’s taste. Patrick Gale