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Briefly Noted: Suzuki's Secular Cantatas

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Bach, Academic Cantatas (BWV 205, 207), Bach Collegium Japan, M. Suzuki

(released on July 8, 2014)
BIS-2001 | 73'06"
As noted in these pages, the completion of Masaaki Suzuki's complete cycle of Bach's sacred cantatas, undertaken from 1995 to 2013 with the Bach Collegium Japan for BIS, was one of the highlights of last year. Bach also composed secular cantatas, over a score of them that survive but likely more than twice that number actually composed, and Suzuki and his forces are releasing their fourth volume of those this month. The two cantatas brought together on this disc, BWV 205 and 207, are both academic cantatas, commissioned in honor of professors at the University of Leipzig, with texts that celebrate the honorees' achievements in allegorical and mythological terms.

As we have come to expect of this series, all musical details in these sometimes surprising scores are lovingly tended. The quartet of vocal soloists is strong: forthright countertenor Robin Blaze and bass Roderick Williams, the sweet and light tenor of Wolfram Lattke, and the ethereal soprano of Joanne Lunn, with just a couple of the top notes straying off into the stratosphere. Instrumental solos are no less pleasing, especially in BWV 205, Der zufriedengestellte Ӓolus, where Bach had an extravagant collection of instruments to work with, including oboe d'amore, viola d'amore, and viola da gamba. As always, the intonation eccentricities of the truly natural brass instruments may be more than some listeners can stand, but here they add to the charm, representing the pack of unruly winds that threaten the summer celebration in honor of Dr. August Friedrich Müller (1684–1761). Vereinigte Zwietracht der wechselnden Saiten, a cantata in honor of Dr Gottlieb Kortte (1698−1731), is less original, recycling two movements from the composer's first Brandenburg Concerto, but in ingenious ways.

1 comment:

Jack Fishman said...

Maestro Suzuki is guest conducting the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Strathmore this coming season on March 12, 2015 in an all-Mozart program.