J.S. Bach, Cantatas, Vol. 1 (BWV 182, 81, 129), Choir and Orchestra of J.S. Bach-Stiftung, St. Gallen, R. Lutz
(released on January 13, 2015)
BSSG-A909 | 62'41"
Vol. 2 (BWV 22, 60, 34)
BSSG-A910 | 48'33"
The Bach completist, of course, has just finished rounding out the recently concluded sets by John Eliot Gardiner and Masaaki Suzuki with Bach Collegium Japan, both of which we have been avidly following. If historical authenticity is the most important criterion, the pioneering cycle by Gustav Leonhardt and Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Das Alte Werk, Teldec) will be hard to beat, as the only one still that uses boys voices on the soprano parts, and if historical authenticity grates on you, Helmuth Rilling's set has much to recommend it.
Along comes this new Bach cantata cycle to fill that need to have a Bach cantata cycle to follow, and the results from Lutz and his colleagues are so far quite alluring, especially in the sounds of the chorus (mixed voices). Soloists are at a high level, too, with the possible exception of countertenors. Lutz has a great tenor, Bernhard Berchtold, and the rich, molten mezzo-soprano Roswitha Müller is outstanding in the opening aria of Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen? (BWV 81, for the fourth Sunday after Epiphany). The instrumental contributions are equally beautiful, charming me right from the opening track of the Palm Sunday cantata Himmelskönig, sei willkommen, in that little sonata for violin, recorder, cello, and clipped organ chords. As with singers, bigger instrumental names sometimes join on the series, like violinist John Holloway, who is featured on the first violin part in BWV 22. Count me in for the journey.