Monday, November 1, 2010

More Complete Sets of Bach Cantatas + An Open Playlist

No it's not an unhealthy obsession, the Bach Cantatas deserve all these different recordings: HIP or modern instruments, sopranos or boy sopranos, one voice per part or choirs, you should listen to them all and judge for yourself. They all reveal the numerous possibilities in Bach's works in their own unique way. Thankfully Spotify will also protect you from bankruptcy while offering you all the music.

Here are the Spotify playlists:

Bach Cantatas - Harnoncourt & Leonhardt (1239 tracks, all 60 CDs are in here) "A major project, shared with Gustav Leonhardt, to record all Bach’s sacred cantatas was launched in 1971 and completed in 1990. Each director revealed his own distinctive approach in the series, with Harnoncourt the more demonstrative, exuberant, and mannerist in his musical expression. The enterprise established a landmark in Bach recording, both for its challenging of previously accepted interpretative conventions and for the use of a boy’s voice to sing almost all the soprano solos." -

Bach Cantatas - Leusink (1219 tracks, all 60 CDs are in here) Recorded by Conductor Pieter Jan Leusink, Holland Boys Choir and Netherlands Bach Collegium. "In 1999 and 2000 all Bach's sacred cantatas were recorded within 15 months, a tremendous achievement, considering the fact that it was accomplished with the same amateur (read literately: music-loving) choir, soloists and orchestra throughout the project, in itself deserving an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. The project aroused storms of criticism in The Netherlands on alleged grounds of inferior haste-work (Recording at this speed must be superficial and lacking depth) and commercialism (imagine! Culture with a capital C on the shelves of a drugstore: how low can you go!), even before anyone had heard a single note! Since the release of the first boxes, reviews have become more and more favorable, especially from foreign critics from all over the world" -

Bach Cantatas - Koopman (956 tracks, 14 out of 22 volumes that are available on Spotify, are in here) 13 volumes actually, and I put in all the non-duplicate cantatas from other Koopman recordings, approximately one volume's worth. "Koopman's directing vitality keeps the music spontaneously alive, with no sense of over-refinement or scholarly rectitude; the recording is first class, and the documentation could hardly be more informative. In short, this is a more enjoyable and rewarding series that will give much satisfaction" - Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music, 2008.

And here's an open playlist for Bach Cantata fans:

Listen to Bach Cantatas (14 tracks at this moment, continuously growing.)

Please add you favourite tracks, or the movement that really moves you as you listen through those Cantata playlists, into this open playlist. Bach Cantata recordings from albums other than those six complete sets are welcome too, and I've already put in many of them. Newcomers to the cantatas can also use this open playlist as an introduction to this magnificent new world. Yes, 300 years after they were written down, they are still much more fresh than most, if not all, of the "new music" that are fresh out of the oven everyday. One more useful link: notes and translations for all the cantatas.