COMPOSERS: JS Bach
ALBUM TITLE: Bach Cantatas, Vol. 52
WORKS: Cantatas, Vol. 52: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140; Der Gerr ist mein getreuer Hirt, BWV 112; etc
PERFORMER: Hana Blaziková (soprano), Robin Blaze (countertenor), Gerd Türk (tenor), Peter Kooij (bass); Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki
CATALOGUE NO: BIS 1981
Composed for a service marking the election of a new council, and consequently intended to be performed in front of Leipzig’s most illustrious movers and shakers, it’s little wonder that the cantata Wir danken dir, Gott is conspicuously celebratory. Bach pulled out all the stops with an ear-grabbing Sinfonia based on the Preludio to the E major Violin Partita, with the heel-kicking moto perpetuo transferred to obbligato organ. Masaaki Suzuki plays the exuberant solo himself, though with more purposefulness than flamboyance. Herman Stinders for Philippe Herreweghe (on Harmonia Mundi) is a touch more devil-may-care. The cantata also contains music familiar in its B minor Mass reincarnation, and Suzuki invests its consciously ‘old style’ sobriety with due solemnity.
Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt, BWV 112, a cantata setting Psalm 23, is perhaps the least well known of this trio of works from 1731, but it’s well worth exploring, especially for Robin Blaze’s liquid countertenor (swaddled in oboe d’amore) depicting ‘pure water’; and to open, Suzuki looks forwards with Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 29 whose fourth movement elaboration of the eponymous chorale Bach later reworked into one of his Schübler chorale preludes. Hana Blazˇíková and Peter Kooij’s first duetto might sound distinctly lacking in impatience for the coming of the Saviour, but happily their second is ecstatic and full of life.