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Christmas Cantatas
Bach, Jesovsvek, Herreweghe
Christmas Cantatas
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
  •  Track Listings (21) - Disc #1

Western classical music rests mightily on J.S. Bach, the master of contrapuntal polyphony. Bach saw clearly that art and music best interpret the divine in human kind, that music especially elevates the human spirit while ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Bach, Jesovsvek, Herreweghe
Title: Christmas Cantatas
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
Release Date: 10/12/1999
Album Type: Import
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Styles: Holiday & Wedding, Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Baroque (c.1600-1750)
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 794881483228

Western classical music rests mightily on J.S. Bach, the master of contrapuntal polyphony. Bach saw clearly that art and music best interpret the divine in human kind, that music especially elevates the human spirit while it praises divinity. The Christmas cantatas, including, The New-Born Little Babe, Let Our Mouths Be Filled with Laughter, and Blessed Is the Man, transport listeners back to the Leipzig of 1700, to the regal cathedrals of the day. But the music and scripture-derived lyrics, framed at varying times by oboe, strings, flutes, and trailing harmony, remain glorious under the guiding hand of director Philippe Herreweghe and the flawless vocal talents of bass Peter Kooy, tenor Mark Padmore, alto Sarah Connolly, and soprano Vasiljka Jezovsek. Covering a range of joyous, reverential, and inspirational emotions and higher aspirations, the Collegium Vocale is at once soulful and incandescent in these perpetually powerful works. --Martin Keller

CD Reviews

A nice addition to your Bach collection
hcf | 01/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"What always strikes me about Herreweghe's recordings of Bach is how balanced and refined they are. The quality of the soloists is always matched by the quality of the chorus and the instrumental playing. The result is often nothing short of magic. This disc, presenting three cantatas from Bach's early Leipzig period, is no exception. Yes, the soprano and the tenor have been gently criticized for their performances here (e.g, read the editorial review above, which basically repeats what was said earlier by Gramophone), but my unschooled ears fail to notice the alleged awkwardness in their sound. The only piece on this disc that may be termed slightly awkward is the ST duet (Ehre sei Gott in der Hohe), but I attribute that awkwardness not so much to the singing as to the presence of the difficult to follow cello continuo. Bach reworked this piece from his 1723 Magnificat in E flat, and, as sung by Bott and George on Pickett's recording of Magnificat, it sounds just as "awkward." It's a beautiful piece in both versions, but the cello continuo definitely seems to have a life of its own, leaving the piece sounding a little disjointed. But let's rise above the trees and look at the forest. Each of the cantatas on this disc has a different mood, expertly captured by Herreweghe. The opening cantata, Das neugeborne Kindelein, based on the melody by Melchior Vulpius, is somber and chromatic, with motet-like movements in the lower voices. The highlight for me was the SAT trio Ist Gott versohnt. The next cantata, Unser Mund sei voll Lachens, is bright and freely-invented, with an especially masterful accomodation of the word Lachens ("laughter") in the opening chorus. This cantata features one of my favorite Bach arias Ihr Gedanken und ihr Sinnen. The last cantata is structurally the most interesting of the three: it is set out in the form of a dialogue between Jesus and the soul (SB). The overall tone of this cantata is grave, but its underlying motive - the hope of salvation - is uplifting (a typical Lutheran treatment of the theme of death)."
Solid in all respects
scott | Calgary, Canada | 03/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I personally like the approach that Herreweghe uses when performing Bach. There is a slight feeling of understatement, but also great depth. These three cantatas are not particularly well known, but are of high quality. Although that statement could be made for almost every Bach cantata we have extant. I find the soloists to be very fine, and don't really notice any awkwardness with the soprano as some reviews have stated. I must single out Pete Kooy who is one of the best basses around, and certainly a fantastic interpreter of Bach. He has three arias on this disc, each of which is a delight. The other highlight for me is the tenor aria "Ihr Gedanken und ihr Sinnen" from BWV110. This is one of the best arias ever, and sung beautifully by Mark Padmore. The alto aria from this cantata "Ach Herr, was ist ein Menschenkind" is also excellent, and well sung by Sarah Connolly.

Overall the performance by the choir, instruments and soloists is up to the usual high standards of Herreweghe, and this disc is very likely to please."