Bach: Cantatas Vol. 1 /Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan Import
Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan didn't begin their series of complete Bach cantatas with the proverbial bang. The three cantatas on this Volume 1 are rather subdued; two of them are downright solemn: No. 150, Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich, which concerns the suffering of this world and the wait for salvation in the next, and the famous cantata No. 4, Christ lag in Todesbanden, which rings inventive variations on the titular chorale melody. The remaining cantata, No. 196, Der Herr denket an uns, evidently was intended for a wedding, which it celebrates with a calm, glowing reverence. All three cantatas are from early in Bach's career; there are no recitatives at all, and the distinction between choruses and arias is not as clear-cut as in the later cantatas. The performances aren't quite as immaculate as those on the BCJ's later discs (the choir in particular has a few minor lapses of tuning), but the beautiful sound and graceful musicality so evident in the later work are present here, too--making this CD worthwhile at this bargain price. Several lovely excerpts from the later discs in the series are included at the end of the record as teasers--making this title the proverbial "loss leader." --Matthew Westphal
Once again, highly recommended.