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Bach: Cantatas, Vol. 27, Blythburgh/Kirkwall
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"Cette interprétation donne pleine justice à un tel génie". George Pratt, la Musique de B.B.C"Les cantates de Bach par Gardiner ont une couleur unique en matière de drame et de subtilité rhétorique. Son choeur et ses instrumentistes répondent par une virtuosité à vous en couper le souffle?". Richard Wigmore, The Daily Telegraph
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Le CD2 est plus long (61 min 26) et comporte quatre cantates enregistrées le 18 juin 2000 à KIRKWALL avec des solistes différents : Ruth HOLTON (soprano), Daniel TAYLOR (alto), Paul AGNEW (ténor) et Peter HARVEY (basse). La première cantate BWV 194 manque un peu d'éclat, malgré la belle prestation de Ruth HOLTON lors de l'aria « Hilf, Gott, dass es uns gelingt ». La prestation de cette soliste est encore plus remarquable dans l'aria introduisant la troisième cantate BWV 165. A noter également la qualité des choeurs introduisant les deux autres cantates BWV 176 et 129. L'alto Daniel TAYLOR est également très convaincant dans ses interventions au cours de cette cession.Lire la suite ›
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A nice and unusual touch is a performance of Brandenburg Concerto No.3. Why? Because they were running out of Trinity cantatas to play, so they included the "trinity" concerto - 3 violins, 3 violas, 3 cellos, in one of Bach's most loved instrumental pieces.
Interesting and enlightening as Gardiner unfailingly is, in this instance my attention was captured even more by the short essay from Paul Agnew, who takes the tenor solos on the Trinity Sunday disc. In brief, Agnew is a professional musician who thought he knew Bach because he knew the Passions, the 48 and the concertos. Not only did he not know the cantatas, which he now hears as the core of Bach's output, most professional musicians, he tells us, did not know them either so recently as 2000. This eases my own sense of guilt at being so late in becoming acquainted with them, but it further enhances my amazement at what this pilgrimage is achieving. The music that they present to us with not only such affection and understanding but with such command and aplomb even in difficult circumstances is not Beethoven symphonies: it seems to have been music that they were learning as they went along.
Only two cantatas for Whit Tuesday survive, so to fill out the first disc there is a performance of the third Brandenburg concerto, a choice that suggested itself naturally because a modified version of its first movement had been a 'sinfonia' in one of the cantatas the group had just been giving at Long Melford. Bach provides no central slow movement for this concerto, only a pair of cadential chords. Something has therefore to be supplied, and here we are offered the interesting and unusual choice of an unaccompanied violin solo taken from the prelude to Bach's first sonata for that instrument. Without having taken the trouble to verify the matter, I think this may be an abbreviated version, but its main interest is in its unexpectedness and originality, although I would have liked to be told who was actually playing. Starting as it does with an instrumental number, this set inclines me to focus the review more than I have done elsewhere on the instrumental side of the performances. Bach thought of music in instrumental much more than in vocal terms, I'm quite convinced. Even when he is setting a text for singing, Bach is inspired to turn out another of his infinitely varied and infinitely expressive musical patterns just as he might do for a purely instrumental composition, and the voices are integrated into an instrumentally-focused abstract design. One excellent point that Agnew makes is how vivid Bach's orchestral colouring is -- he can work wonders in the six cantatas here with a couple of oboes, or a pair of recorders, or a trio of trumpets. Add timpani to these last and we have a wonderful and exhilarating sound in the final cantata no 129, and I am as baffled as Gardiner apparently was that it failed to arouse the expected enthusiasm among the Orcadian audience. One detail in Gardiner's account left me unclear regarding the instrumentation, and it is whether they managed to obtain a 5-stringed violoncello piccolo for cantata 175 or whether a more normal kind of instrument had to do.
The names of the soloists are becoming familiar to me as I progressively follow in the steps of their pilgrimage, and they perform to the magnificent standard that continues to astonish me without surprising me, so confidently have I come to expect it by now. Not least impressive is Paul Agnew himself, whose exceptionally interesting comments I have already mentioned. He sings with the fervour of a lover with a new musical love. I am with him in his enthusiasm wholeheartedly, and although I fully join in the extravagance of his admiration for Bach I would only suggest that 'dramatic' is not one of the words to praise him with. Bach's wonderful musical patterns can be vivid, they can be overwhelmingly powerful, but it still seems to me that Bach's mind is contemplative even when his music is most overpowering. There is no paradox in this perception. All that the composer requires for it to be true is an infinite musical gift.
As I acquire more of this marvellous series I am coming to think of it as a unity more than as a series of separate productions, and although each disc has to be assessed separately from the others I am finding that the assessment tends to be much the same every time. Similarly with the cantatas themselves. I find them less a series of freestanding works like, say, Beethoven's sonatas than a great unified river of inspiration whose source is Bach's unshakable faith allied to his limitless talent.
The age I have lived through has brought this to me through the agency of not only the artists but the technicians, whose work has been of an undeviatingly high standard. A word of thanks also to the aviation industry for delivering the pilgrims safely, and perhaps a quiet reminder that modern propeller airliners are often much newer than they look and are technologically impressive, deserving a kinder name than 'crop-sprayers'.