Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Bach Advent Cantatas & Magnificat - Harnoncourt

Melk Abbey
An Advent Concert of Music by J.S.Bach
Christine Schaefer - soprano
Anna Korondi - mezzo
Bernarda Fink - alto
Ian Bostridge - tenor
Christopher Maltman - baritone
Arnold Schoenberg Choir
Concentus Musicus Vienna
cond: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
recorded at Melk Abbey, Austria
DVD released 2001
Running Time 01:21:00

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland BWV 61 - Part 1

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland BWV 61 is a cantata written by Johann Sebastian Bach for the first Sunday in Advent. It was first performed in Weimar on 2 December, 1714. It has parts for soprano, tenor and bass soloists as well as the chorus.

BWV 61 - Part 2 - Komm, Jesu, komm zu deiner Kirche
BWV 61 - Part 3 - Öffne dich, mein ganzes Herze 
BWV 61 - Part 4 - Amen amen!

Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben BWV147 - Part 1

BWV 147 - Part 2 - Schäme dich, o Seele, nicht
BWV 147 - Part 3 - Bereite dir, Jesu, noch itzo die Bahn 
BWV 147 - Part 4 - Wohl mir, daß ich Jesum habe 
BWV 147 - Part 5 - Hilf, Jesu, hilf
BWV 147 - Part 6 - Ich will von Jesu Wundern singen
BWV 147 - Part 7 - Jesus bleibet meine Freude

Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben was written originally in Weimar in 1716 (BWV 147a) for Advent and expanded in 1723 for the feast of the Visitation in Leipzig, where it was first performed on 2 July 1723. The cantata is scored for four soloists and a four-part choir, a festive trumpet, two oboes (oboe d'amore, oboe da caccia), two violins, viola and basso continuo including bassoon. Its ten movements are in two parts, movements 1 to 6 to be performed before the sermon, the others after the sermon.

The opening chorus renders the complete words in three section, the third one a reprise of the first one and even the middle section not different in character. An instrumental sinfonia is heard in the beginning and in the end as well as, slightly changed, in all three sections with the choir woven into it. In great contrast all three sections conclude with a part accompanied only by basso continuo. Sections one and three begin with a fugue with colla parte instruments. The fugue subject stresses the word Leben (life) by a melisma extended over three measures. The soprano starts the theme, the alto enters just one measure later, tenor after two more measures, bass one measure later, the fast succession resulting in a lively music as a good image of life. In section three the pattern of entrances is the same, but building from the lowest voice to the highest.

The three recitatives are scored differently, the first accompanied by chords of the strings, the second by continuo, the third as an accompagnato of two oboes da caccia which add a continuos expressive motive, interrupted only when the child's leaping in the womb (in German: Hüpfen) is mentioned which they illustrate. The three arias of the original cantata are scored for voice and solo instruments or only continuo, whereas the last aria, speaking of the miracles of Jesus, is accompanied by the full orchestra.

The chorale movements 6 and 10, ending the two parts of the cantata, are the same music based on a melody by Johann Schop, Werde munter, mein Gemüthe, a melody which Bach also used in his St Matthew Passion on the words Bin ich gleich von dir gewichen. The simple four-part choral part is embedded in a setting of the full orchestra dominated by a motive in pastoral triplets derived from the first line of the chorale melody.

Magnificat in D major, BWV 243 - Part 1

Magnificat - Part 2 - Et exsultavit
Magnificat - Parts 3&4 - Quia respexit - Omnes generationes
Magnificat - Part 5 - Quia fecit mihi magna
Magnificat - Part 6 - Et misericordia
Magnificat - Part 7 - Fecit potentiam
Magnificat - Part 8 - Deposuit potentes
Magnificat - Part 9 - Esurientes implevit
Magnificat - Part 10 - Suscepit Israel
Magnificat - Part 11 - Sicut locutus est
Magnificat - Part 12 - Gloria patri

Johann Michael Rottmayr, The Triumph of St Benedict (1721)
Melk Abbey
The Magnificat in D major, BWV 243, is a major vocal work of Johann Sebastian Bach. It was composed for orchestra, a five-part choir and four or five soloists. The text is the canticle of Mary, mother of Jesus, as told by Luke the Evangelist.

Bach composed an initial version in E flat major in 1723 for the Christmas Vespers in Leipzig which contained several Christmas texts. During the years he removed the Christmas-specific texts to make it suitable for year-round performance, as well as transposing it to D major, providing better sonority for the trumpets in particular. The new version, which is the one usually performed, had its premiere at the Thomaskirche on July 2, 1733, the fourth Sunday after Trinity Sunday, which was the Feast of the Visitation at the time. The Feast was later moved to the end of May.
The work is divided into twelve parts which can be grouped into three movements, each beginning with an aria and completed by the choir in a fugal chorus. Its performance lasts approximately thirty minutes.

J.S.Bach - The Sacred Cantatas (Harnoncourt-Leonhardt)
Concentus Musicus Vienna & Vienna Boys' Choir
cond: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Leonhardt Consort & Vienna Boys' Choir
cond: Gustav Leonhardt

Warner Classics' 60-CD boxed set reissue of J.S. Bach - The Complete Sacred Cantatas, brings a monumental and immortal recorded legacy to the forefront. The box presents cantatas 1 through 199, with recordings orchestrated by conductor and cellist Nikolaus Harnoncourt and conductor and keyboardist Gustav Leonhardt between the years 1971 and 1988 using purely period instruments and choirs featuring all-male voices. Together, these recordings are one of the great musical treasures of Western civilization.
Warner Classics | 1971-1988 | 60 CD | MP3 192 Kbps | 60 ZIP (5.20Gb)

J.S.Bach - Complete Cantatas
The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
cond: Ton Koopman

Previously begun on Erato, Koopman's cantata cycle was taken over and completed in 2007 on Challenge Classics. It now looks set to surpass the famous Leonhardt-Harnoncourt set on Teldec (and indeed most of his other competitors). Koopman favours an intimate approach to the choruses - namely one voice to a part. Also, he opts for females soloists rather than boys, as would have been the case in Bach's day, and he favours mixed rather than solely male choirs. For many this will be a plus point, and it is good news for fans of Barbara Schlick. He goes for slightly higher than normal pitch - a semi-tone above present day pitch, which, as Christopher Wolff's notes point out, is what Bach used in Mühlhausen and Weimar, brightening the sonority quite a lot. The singing in virtually all the cantatas is pretty impressive and the instrumental playing is of a very high order.
Elektra / Wea / Erato | 1995-2006 | 67 CD | MP3 192 Kbps | 67 ZIP (6.43Gb)
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