Johanna Behrend, Edith Berger-Krebs, Gertrud Birmele, Marie-Luise Denicke, Agnes Giebel, Gerda Lammers, Lilo Rolwes, Gunthild Weber (soprano), Lorri Lail, Ingrid Lorenzen, AnneliesWesten, Charlotte Wolf-Matthäus (alto), Helmut Krebs (tenor), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Walter Hauck (baritone) & Gerhard Niese (bass)
This 9-CD boxed set of first releases from the RIAS archives presents the first ever attempt at a recording of the complete Bach cantatas.
For everyone who is interested in the history of Bach interpretation and in the development of Germany’s post-1945 cultural rebuilding, these recordings represent a significant enrichment. From 1946, Karl Ristenpart established choral and orchestral ensembles at the RIAS Berlin, directing the RIAS Kammerchor and the RIAS Kammerorchester. With these ensembles, and emerging young singers (including Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Helmut Krebs and Agnes Giebel), Karl Ristenpart and Elsa Schiller, then head of music at the RIAS, embarked in 1947 upon a recording series of the complete Bach cantatas. However, it proved impossible to realise the project in its entirety. The 29 cantatas which survive in the RIAS archives document a Bach ideal which is pioneering even by today’s standards: thanks to small-scale forces the musical structures are distinct and transparent, and the singers link their articulation to that of the instrumentalists.This interpretation, which is free of any monumentalism, paved the way, aesthetically, for historically informed performance practice.
“These recordings form a remarkable part of the immediate post-war musical legacy in what was then West Germany...it’s thrilling to have so many examples of [Fischer-Dieskau's] early work in this box...The singers of the RIAS-Kammerchor make a strong contribution...These performances constitute a major addition to the discography of Bach’s cantatas. Their reappearance after all these years is a cause for rejoicing.”
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