- Cantata No. 41, "Jesu, nun sei gepreiset," BWV 41 (BC A22)
- Cantata No. 92, "Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn," BWV 92 (BC A42)
- Cantata No. 130, "Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir," BWV 130 (BC A179)
The three cantatas on this disc, volume 33 of the ongoing complete edition by conductor Masaaki Suzuki and his historical-instrument Bach Collegium Japan, aren't familiar items. But they make a marvelous program that introduces the listener to many of the specific virtues of Suzuki's series. Those virtues do not run especially in the direction of warmth and humanism (turn to John Eliot Gardiner for those qualities). Instead, Suzuki's readings as a whole are clear, rather restrained, and carefully shaped, coalescing periodically into quiet moments of exquisite beauty. The cantatas here, written in Leipzig for services shortly after the New Year, have a common structure, varied in execution: each begins and ends with a big chorale setting, while the central movements, mostly solo recitatives and arias, intertwine fragments of the chorale with added material. The opening "Jesu, nun sei gepreiset, BWV 41" (Jesus be now praised) and closing "Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir" (Lord God, we all praise you) feature triumphalist applications of trumpets and drums, while the central "Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn, BWV 92" (I have to God's heart and mind [surrendered my own]) is a much more introspective work. There are Bach interpreters who would deliver more blaring, blazing power in the opening chorale of "Jesu, nun sei gepreiset," but the detail in Suzuki's delineation of the percussion part is impressive. Suzuki really comes into his own with arias like "Meinem Hirten bleib ich treu" from "Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn" (track 14), where the delicate, very sparing vibrato of soprano Yukari Nonoshita seems to float above ethereal clouds. The inner arias of these cantatas are mostly quite pictorial, and Suzuki works well with the singers to forge readings that are vivid without being overly theatrical. Hear bass Dominik Wörner in "Das Brausen von den rauhen Winden" (The howling of the rough winds), from the same cantata; he doesn't engage this fearsomely difficult aria in mortal combat, but smoothly elides the runs of sixteenth notes in such a way as to evoke the sound of the winds themselves. The Super Audio sound from Sweden's BIS label is impressively well suited to Suzuki's musical enterprise, even when auditioned on an ordinary stereo. The only disadvantage may be that investing in this disc may cause addiction to the entire high-priced series.
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