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Altbachisches Archiv
Johann Michael Bach, Johann Christoph Bach, Adam Drese
Altbachisches Archiv
Genres: Pop, Classical


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All Artists: Johann Michael Bach, Johann Christoph Bach, Adam Drese, Anonymous, Johann Bach, Georg Christoph Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach, Cantus Cölln, Concerto Palatino
Title: Altbachisches Archiv
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
Original Release Date: 1/1/2003
Re-Release Date: 7/8/2003
Album Type: Box set, Import
Genres: Pop, Classical
Styles: Vocal Pop, Opera & Classical Vocal, Chamber Music, Forms & Genres, Concertos, Historical Periods, Baroque (c.1600-1750), Classical (c.1770-1830)
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 794881706228

CD Reviews

Bach's predecessors done proud
Charles Richards | Los Angeles, CA | 08/12/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Whenever anyone mentions the name "Bach" today, they almost invariably are referring to Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), considered the greatest composer of the Baroque period, if not of all time. But few are aware that Bach actually was one among a long line of composers, the Bach family being a musical one from the early 17th century all the way until the late 18th (indeed, the music of Bach's son, Johann Christian, was better known than his father's until the great Bach revival of the early 19th century). Although there have been many recordings of works of Bach's sons, most of the music of his predecessors has been completely ignored, only rarely taken out for airings, mainly as curiosities.
Musical taste is and has always been transitory; even by J.S. Bach's time the music of his forefathers and relatives was seen as old-fashioned and had been mostly forgotten. Bach, though, obviously had a great love and affection for these works, as he kept the best of them carefully preserved in a manuscript later known as the "Altbachisches Archiv", which was not published until 1935. This new offering from Konrad Junghanel and Cantus Colln is a coplete recording of that manuscript.
The archive includes works by Johann, Heinrich, Johann Christoph, Georg Christoph and Johann Michael Bach, with Johann Christoph and Johann Michael being the best represented. The works, mostly motets in the old German style (resembling those by Buxtehude, Schein, Schutz and Bruhns)are certainly of a completely different ilk than what is commonly thought of as Baroque vocal music, and it is interesting to see what a great change took place in German musical taste by the time of J.S. Bach and Telemann. That said, this is gorgeous music by any standard, and anyone who enjoys the music of the above mentioned composers will surely revel in it.
Of all the pieces, the most powerful is certainly Johann Christoph Bach's "Es Erhub Sich Ein Streit", a very musically graphic depiction of the war in heaven related in St. John's Revelation, closing one's eyes one can clearly see the battling angels and the Satan-as-dragon in all its terror and glory -- surely this is great music (J.S. Bach himself revived this piece with great success). The most famous is, of course, the same composer's "Ach, das Ich Wassers Gnug Hatte", a beautiful lament that has become a staple in the countertenor repertoire. Mixed in the bag are a number of other delightful works, my own personal favorite being yet another work by Johann Christoph Bach, "Est ist Nun Aus", a simple, strophic farewell to life, each verse of which ends with a tender and moving setting of the phrase, "Welt, Gute Nacht" - "World, Good Night".
As usual, Junghanel and the Cantus Colln are just about flawless in their execution of the music -- but, perhaps, almost too flawless. Despite its beauty, there is a certain "sameness" to these pieces, and the performance is so cool, so smooth that the average listener may be a bit tired of it all by the end. But this is only a minor crticism; Junghanel seems to know the music like the back of his hand, and his love for it can only inspire awe in its pristine beauty, a beauty unmarred by later conceits of the high baroque and rococo.
The packaging, as usual with Harmonia Mundi, is excellent, with both discs (in a digipack) enclosed in a sturdy little cardboard box along with a sixty-six page booklet.
I think almost anyone who is interested in this music will attain endless pleasure from this set, the uninitiated as well as those who are familiar with early baroque church music. We are very, very lucky that the manuscript (which has an interesting history of its own) survived, and that these simple yet sublime pieces, saved from oblivion by the composers' most famous descendant, are still with us and can inspire such radiant performances as those given here."
A must for all Bach enthusiasts
M. Holmes | Washington D.C., United States | 07/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Adding to the comments of the other reviewer from Los Angeles, I must also mention that JS Bach actually arranged performances of some of the vocal works of Johann Christoph Bach (1645-1703) during his post as Cantor of St. Thomas in Leipzig. The "Altbachisches Archiv" can be thought of as a sort of "time capsule" for the Bach family, compiled by JS Bach himself. Much of the music in this manuscript was adored by JS as well as his famous son CPE Bach.

From a seventeenth century point of view, JC Bach's music is daring, creative, imaginative, and profound. These were the actual thoughts of JS Bach himself who considered him the "great and expressive composer" or the "profound composer."

JS Bach's words should definitely not be taken lightly, and his assessment is entirely correct. I have listened to this CD over the past year with great admiration, not only of the music, but also the performance. I must respectfully disagree with the reviewer from Los Angeles and say that no performance should ever be discredited for being too perfect. I say this because I am an active performer of this kind of music, and I stand in awe of performers who can achieve such an astonshing level music making. I was so taken by this recording that I actually sent a message of thanks to the members of Concerto Palatino after the CD's release for their heroic efforts!

You don't want to pass up this recording!"
Cantus Colln and the Bach family
Critic at large | East Coast USA | 09/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I cannot really add to the praise that this CD deserves. It speaks for itself, as does the music of the Bach family. Anyone who wants to really understand the Bach family and its most famous member should buy this CD. The music making is outstanding.

One reviewer has commented on the sameness of the performance, everything at a highly excellent level. Is this a serious fault? I don't think so. One may not always care for the music of earlier eras, and perhaps the individual works are best listened to one at a time, but musicianship at this level should be admired and can't really said to be too perfect.

Another point, please listen to the music in light of the texts. The texts may seem old fashioned and in many cases uninteresting in their own right, but both the music composed by the Bachs and the performance on this recording must be listened to with the texts in mind."