Bach: Cantatas

Bach: Cantatas

by Thomas Quasthoff
     
 

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Much acclaim has been heaped upon bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff's previous recordings of the German Romantic repertoire from Schubert to Mahler. But it's no exaggeration that this disc of Bach's three cantatas for bass -- Quasthoff's first foray into the Baroque -- is a revelation: From his first entry in the "Kreuzstab" Cantata, itSee more details below

Overview

Much acclaim has been heaped upon bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff's previous recordings of the German Romantic repertoire from Schubert to Mahler. But it's no exaggeration that this disc of Bach's three cantatas for bass -- Quasthoff's first foray into the Baroque -- is a revelation: From his first entry in the "Kreuzstab" Cantata, it is clear that the particular expressive qualities and colors of his voice are simply ideal for this immensely moving music. There's no need even to follow along with the translated texts, for Quasthoff communicates the music's spiritual meanings with a directness and intensity that surpasses language. He does have some stiff competition in these works, especially in Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's poignant performance of the cantata "Ich habe genug" (in its version for alto), which was featured on a Bach disc that topped the classical critics' lists in 2003. Yet this work, which expresses a yearning for death as a respite from the sorrows of life, seems to elicit a deeply personal response from any great singer who approaches it, and Quasthoff is no exception. With his deep and robust voice, his interpretation appears at first to be a more stoic one -- but this only makes the moments of vulnerability that emerge, especially in the ineffably beautiful aria "Schlummert ein," all the more affecting. Quasthoff has excellent support here from the Berliner Barock Solisten (members of the Berlin Philharmonic), with especially noteworthy contributions from the oboe and violin soloists. No less than the vocalist, the ensemble probes deeply into Bach's cantatas, and the result is a remarkable example of music making at its most sublime.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
Sooner or later, if you're a German baritone with aspirations of grandeur, you've got to take a shot at Bach's two great baritone cantatas, the gloomy "Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen (BWV 56)" and the doomy "Ich habe genug (BWV 82)." Thus it was inevitable that Thomas Quasthoff, arguably the best German baritone of the past ten years, would have to take on "Ich will" and "Ich habe." But given that the gloom and doom weltanschauung of Bach's Lutheran Germany is all but ignored in these cheerfully fundamentalist times, how does Quasthoff, the former thalidomide baby with a voice of burnished bronze, do at projecting dismal despair? Thankfully, not all that well. Not only does Quasthoff perform with his by now customary strength and elegance, but Quasthoff interprets with his by now customary warmth and compassion. Quasthoff knows full well the depths of doom and gloom in Bach's texts, but he also knows that despite it all, life is good and his singing projects a love of life that few other performers can match. That Quasthoff's "Ich will" and "Ich habe" are separated on this disc by a powerfully affirmative "Der Friede sei mit dir (BWV 158)" only makes the message more positive. The choral singing by members of the RIAS-Kammerchor is subtle and strong and the orchestral playing of the Berliner Barock Solisten is nuanced and sensitive. Deutsche Grammophon's sound is clear and detailed.
Gramophone - Jonathan Freeman-Attwood
If Bach had heard Thomas Quasthoff, he might have considered making his Evangelist a baritone.... This is a Bach performance brimming with vitality, meaning and risk.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/09/2004
Label:
Deutsche Grammophon
UPC:
0028947753261
catalogNumber:
000345802

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Tracks

  1. Cantata No. 56, "Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen," BWV 56 (BC A146)  - Johann Sebastian Bach  - Merle Kersten  - Rainer Kussmaul  - Rainer Kussmaul  - Thomas Quasthoff  - Albrecht Mayer  - Berliner Barock Solisten  - Johann Frank  - Daniel Reuss
  2. Cantata No. 158, "Der Friede sei mit dir," BWV 158 (BC A61)  - Johann Sebastian Bach  - Martin Luther  - Johann Georg Albinus  -  RIAS-Kammerchor Berlin  - Merle Kersten  - Rainer Kussmaul  - Rainer Kussmaul  - Thomas Quasthoff  - Albrecht Mayer  - Berliner Barock Solisten  - Daniel Reuss
  3. Cantata No. 82, "Ich habe genug," BWV 82 (BC A169)  - Johann Sebastian Bach  - Merle Kersten  - Rainer Kussmaul  - Rainer Kussmaul  - Thomas Quasthoff  - Albrecht Mayer  - Berliner Barock Solisten

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