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20.3.05

"Weinen, Klagen..."—Herreweghe's New Bach


available at Amazon
J. S. Bach, Cantatas
BWV 12, 38, 75
,
P. Herreweghe / Collegium Vocale Ghent
C.Sampson, M.Padmore, D.Taylor, P.Kooy
Harmonia Mundi

Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (BWV 12) is one of Bach's 1723/24 cantatas that deal with sorrow and consolation, based on or relating to Psalms 22 and 130 (De Profundis and Luther's German popularization thereof, Aus tiefer Not). The other two cantatas on Philippe Herreweghe's new Harmonia Mundi disc are that very Aus tiefer Not (BWV 38) and Die Elenden sollen essen (The Miserable Shall Eat, BWV 75). Aus tiefer Not is set not only to the words of Luther but also on the melody of his hymn. Though sparse as few other of Bach's cantatas, it impresses with its fine and meticulous weaving of vocal lines, doubled by the accompanying instruments.

All three are masterly performed by Philippe Herreweghe (back in more familiar territory after his recent foray into Bruckner: see Ionarts review), his Collegium Vocale Gent and the outstanding Bach singers Carolyn Sampson, Daniel Taylor, Mark Padmore, and Peter Kooy. Especially the latter two are exquisite, not surprisingly, as Bach cantata veterans who may be familiar to the listener from their collaboration with Gardiner's and Ton Koopman's respective cantata projects.

Herreweghe must have "secretly" climbed a good part of the way to a complete cantata cycle by now. That he does it—if he has any such aspirations—without fanfare and announcement would make sense if one considers that neither Sir John Eliot Gardiner nor Ton Koopman were allowed to finish their traversals with their original labels Archiv and Erato. Koopman cofounded Challenge Classics in order to finish/reissue his cycle. And just this month the first Bach cantata CDs on Gardiner’s own new label (Soli Deo Gloria) came out to much acclaim, suggesting that he, too, may yet complete a project. Otherwise the field of complete cantatas would be left to the old and scarcely available Harnoncourt, Haenssler's Rilling, or the excellent Suzuki on his loyal and enterprising BIS label.

Of course choosing and sticking with a cantata cycle is one thing: grabbing this disc for the sheer enjoyment of lamenting is another. The no vibrato style delivers the cleanest held lines, and assuming one likes it that way, the contributions leave no musical wish unfulfilled.

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