Bach : Cantatas Vol.45

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Cantatas, Vol. 45: BMV 39, 129 & 187; Sinfonia in D, BWV 1045
PERFORMER: Yukari Nonoshita (soprano), Robin Blaze (countertenor), Peter Kooij (bass); Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki
CATALOGUE NO: BIS SACD 1801

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After 15 years of his Complete Bach Cantata project, Suzuki’s approach has subtly changed. Where in the past he has seemed somewhat reverential, performances now are bolder, tempos more daring, phrasing and expression more distinctive – and he has complete mastery of the wonderfully enveloping acoustic of the Kobe Shoin University Chapel.

His 13 choral singers, ten strings and solo wind have grown in authority and poise over the years; soloists (drawn from the choir) sing with glorious ease and lightness, their subtle vocal colours painted with the delicacy of a Japanese water-colour. This latest disc presents virtually flawless performances of three of Bach’s most inspired cantatas.

Surround-sound recording greatly enhances the opening chorus of BWV 39, with pairs of recorders, oboes and strings in fragmented dialogue from left and right, near and far. It’s a long movement divided into barely-related sections dictated by the expansive text. The aria for bass opening Part II is witty, written in 4/4 time but dismissively ignoring bar-lines in a 3/2 pulse.

The opening choral ‘Concerto’ of BWV 187 is splendidly done, voices matching instrumental clarity. Robin Blaze is in excellent form in a testing triple-time dance; Yukari Nonoshita, solo oboe and continuo weave a fanciful filigree of motifs in a deceptively testing aria. The energy of strings timpani, full wind and trumpets opening BWV 129 reveals Suzuki at his confident, committed best. 

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Recording balance in the filler, Sinfonia BWV 1045, could have favoured solo violin more, rather than hiding it in the large-scale accompaniment. Otherwise, a superlative disc. George Pratt