Johann Sebastien Bach: Cantatas BWV 91, 101

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COMPOSERS: Johann Sebastien Bach
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: J S Bach
WORKS: Cantatas BWV 91, 101
PERFORMER: Yukari Nonoshita (soprano), Robin Blaze (countertenor), Gerd Türk (tenor), Peter Kooij (bass); Bach Collegium Japan; Concerto Palatino/Masaaki Suzuki
CATALOGUE NO: SACD-1481 (hybrid CD/SACD)
Volume 31 of Bach Collegium Japan’s steadily progressing survey

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of Bach’s cantatas contains four Leipzig pieces for 1724. Three of them are Christmas cantatas while the fourth (BWV 101) was sung

on the tenth Sunday after Trinity. They are part of Bach’s cycle of cantatas based on hymn texts (rather than on appointed gospel readings) and which incorporate their associated melodies. Their musical focal point lies in the exhilarating and breathtakingly ingenious opening choruses which, taken together, represent Bach’s greatest and most original contribution to the Lutheran cantata. The four featured here offer splendid and vividly contrasting examples ranging from the stylistically modern, extended chorus of concerto-like proportions belonging to BWV 133 to the more archaic, motet-like and sterner inflexions of those belonging to BWV 101 and 121.

After a disappointing Easter Oratorio by these musicians this new issue provided a fillip to my momentarily flagging enthusiasm. Though I find some of the choral singing underpowered there are many fine solo contributions, from among which I would single out the sensitive partnership of Yukari Nonoshita and Robin Blaze in the vocally imitative duet of BWV 91. Blaze has another ravishing solo in BWV 133. The author of the accompanying notes makes extensive reference to the affectingly meditative soprano aria which follows but says not a word for the alto aria ‘Getrost’ (Be confident). Blaze responds sympathetically to its A major radiance and optimism, though both Doris Soffel (Hänssler) and Ingeborg Danz (Harmonia Mundi) declaim it with greater warmth and a more gracious tempo. Gerd Türk and Peter Kooij are on their characteristically dependable form, but it would be an injustice to overlook the delicate and limpid playing of Liliko Maeda whose flute obbligato has ousted the more frequently encountered violin in the tenor aria of BWV 101.

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Nicholas Anderson