The complete Philips and L’Oiseau-Lyre recordings of Bach cantatas made by Sir Neville Marriner, reissued together for the first time.
Bach’s cantatas vary enormously in scale and style, ranging from festal works featuring elaborate choral movements and large instrumental ensembles including trumpets and drums, to more meditative cantatas for a single voice and only a handful of instruments. The six examples gathered in this new Eloquence reissue tend towards the latter, more intimate vein of expression, but they also encompass stylistic poles defined by varying purposes as either a sacred exposition of Scriptural principles or a rollicking secular entertainment.
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields was not yet five years old when, in April 1964, it was joined by John Shirley-Quirk in St. Paul’s, Knightsbridge, to record the two most renowned cantatas for solo bass voice. Both Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen and Ich habe genug rank among the composer’s most profound contemplations of mortality, and singers of every voice-type have wished to put their personal stamp on them. Reviews at the time praised Shirley-Quirk’s assured legato as well as his affecting identification with Bach’s acutely sensitive response to text.
A little under two years later, the Academy and Shirley-Quirk made a sequel album, featuring another pair of much-loved English singers, Robert Tear and Dame Janet Baker. In Vergnügte Ruh’ Baker sings hauntingly of the soul’s longing for death, but to Shirley-Quirk is allotted the prize of ‘Es ist vollbracht’ in Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem, one of the most expressive arias Bach ever wrote.
Dating from the early digital era, a pair of fun, sometimes satirical secular cantatas features the husband-and-wife team of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Julia Varady, well placed to make the most of Bach’s underrated sense of humour, and as ever accompanied by playing of natural and unaffected style from the Academy and Marriner.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685–1750)
1–5 Cantata ‘Vergnügte Ruh’ beliebte Seelenlust’, BWV 170
Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
6–10 Cantata ‘Ich habe genug’, BWV 82
John Shirley-Quirk, bass
11–15 Cantata ‘Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem’, BWV 159
Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano · Robert Tear, tenor · John Shirley-Quirk, bass
St. Anthony Singers
1–5 Cantata ‘Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen’, BWV 56
John Shirley-Quirk, baritone
St. Anthony Singers
6–15 Cantata ‘Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht’ (Coffee Cantata), BWV 211
Julia Varady, soprano · Aldo Baldin, tenor · Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, bass
16–39 Cantata ‘Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet’ (Peasant Cantata), BWV 212
Julia Varady, soprano · Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, bass
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
THE COLLECTED NEVILLE MARRINER RECORDINGS OF BACH CANTATAS FOR DECCA & PHILIPS
Recording Producers: Erik Smith (BWV 159, 170, 211, 212); James Burnett (BWV 56, 82)
Recording Engineers: Hans Lauterslager (BWV 211, 212); Allen Stagg (BWV 56, 82); unidentified (BWV 82, 159, 170)
Recording Locations: St. Paul’s, Knightsbridge, London, UK, 28–29 April 1964 (BWV 56, 82); Decca Studios, West Hampstead, London, UK, 29 & 31 January 1966 (BWV 159, 170); Henry Wood Hall, London, UK, 18–20 November 1981 (BWV 211, 212)
Original LP Releases: L’Oiseau-Lyre OL (SOL) 280 (BWV 56, 82); L’Oiseau-Lyre OL (SOL) 295 (BWV 159, 170); Philips 6514 213 (BWV 211, 212)
ALSO AVAILABLE AS